With today’s protest against DUP/SF proposed legislation to restrict the right to public assembly the PSNI earlier demonstrated how they will try and curb the current right to legal Public Assembly anyhow.
Last year the PSNI successfully prevented éirígí’s protest against Armed Forces Day in Belfast by blocking protestors as they made their way to the assembly point.
This year éirígí got around that by assembling directly at City Hall and not travelling there as a group. This meant their protest was inarguably a Public Assembly and did not require any application or permissions to take place.
However, as can be seen in the picture the PSNI attempted to claim that the legal public assembly was a parade and displayed a large poster warning of the potential for action under Public Processions legislation which has no relevance to Public Assemblies. As we’ve noted before on Slugger Public Assemblies fall under the Public Order Act and are not subject to any parading law.
The PSNI also threatened a man making a statement in support of Armed Forces Day with arrest for breach of the peace as Stepbar’s photo shows (many thanks for permission to use the image). More photos from Stephen Barnes here.
ADDS: The protestor pictured above has informed Slugger (me) that while he said ‘arrest me if you must’ to the PSNI he also stated ‘what our troops are fighting for is Democracy so people can protest like erigi as long as its within the law’