One protester was escorted out of the UK Parliament for holding a poster against King Charles III – Copyright AFP SERGEY BOBOK
On Tuesday, British police faced criticism from civil liberties groups over their treatment of anti-monarchy protesters who have publicly opposed the accession of King Charles III, as well as public support for the royal family.
On Monday, footage circulated on social media of a woman protesting holding a ‘Not my King’ protest poster, which was then confronted by at least four officers outside the British Parliament in London.
She was seen being led away from her seat and was reportedly forced to stand elsewhere, away from the Parliament gates.
Lawyer and climate activist Paul Paulsland also tweeted that an officer warned him that he would face arrest after he showed a blank piece of paper in front of Parliament.
“He confirmed that if I write ‘Not my king’ on it, he will arrest me under the Public Order Act because someone might be offended,” he wrote, along with a video of him talking to an officer. .
The UK is in national mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, and the death of the 96-year-old monarch sparked a rare moment of national unity amid a show of sympathy for the royal family.
But it also raised questions about space for dissent: Several civil liberties groups have warned that the police fail to respect the rights of a small minority of anti-monarchists.
“If people are arrested simply for holding protest signs, then this is an affront to democracy and is likely to be illegal,” Big Brother Watch said in a statement.
“Police officers have a duty to protect the people’s right to protest just as much as they have a duty to promote the right of the people to express support, mourn or pay respect.”
In another case, a 45-year-old man was arrested in Oxford in the south of England on Sunday after he shouted “Who elected him?” during the public proclamation of the accession to the throne of Charles III.
Jodi Beck of the Freedom campaign group said the right to protest is “a vital part of a healthy and functioning democracy.”
“It is very disturbing to see how the police use their wide powers in such an arbitrary and punitive way to stifle freedom of speech and expression,” she said in a statement.
– “Basic Law” –
The London Metropolitan Police appeared to have acknowledged the overzealous actions of some officers late on Monday evening.
“The public has an absolute right to protest,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Kandy said.
“We have clarified this to all officers involved in the ongoing emergency police operation and we will continue to do so.”
The Queen’s coffin was put on public display for the first time on Monday in Edinburgh after a silent procession in which a young man yelled at Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second son, as he walked behind the hearse.
A bully who called Andrew a “sick old man” because of his ties to American pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein was shown being hauled away and escorted by police.
Passers-by reacted with cries of “God Save the King!”
Scottish police confirmed that two people were arrested on Monday and charged with disorderly conduct.
Another woman who held up a banner to “abolish the monarchy” at the proclamation ceremony for King Charles III in Edinburgh on Sunday has also been charged, according to reports.
“This is clearly a period of national mourning for the majority, vast, vast majority of the country’s population,” Liz Truss, a spokeswoman for the prime minister, told reporters in London on Tuesday.
“But the fundamental right to protest remains the cornerstone of our democracy.”
The UK Public Order Act 1986 gives the police the power to arrest people found guilty of causing “harassment, alarm or disturbance” through “threatening words or behavior or disorderly conduct”, including by holding up banners.
The right-wing conservative government has faced harsh criticism from civil liberties groups over a new police law passed earlier this year that expanded the ability of security forces to curb protests.
Anti-monarchists are a marginalized group in Britain: according to a survey conducted in May this year by the research group YouGov, 13% of respondents consider the monarchy “bad for Britain.”
A total of 54 percent consider it “good” for the country.