I’m writing this open letter as a call to action.

It’s been floating around my head as I recover from Covid, and from a year of protest like no other.

Now, as the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill (the PCSC Bill) moves through the Westminster Parliament, for activists, it feels like we’re living in a ticking time bomb.

After the brutal policing of protests, and the deaths of two young Black men following contact with police in south Wales, 2022 is the year we must urgently unite.

We must come together to resist the increased policing of our communities by violent, racist, sexist, homophobic, and classist police forces.

READ MORE:

New UK government legislation could kill the right to protest in Wales

UK Police Bill could strain 'weakened' Welsh prisons

Over the past two years, protests have erupted in calls for justice for Mohamud Hassan and Mouayed Bashir; for Sarah Everard; against the destruction and selling off of our communities and homes; against climate change, and for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

There are so many huge, urgent, and unavoidable issues. It’s terrifying, and as individuals we’re all just one person. So coming together in protest - in tens, or tens of thousands - gives us comfort, as well as the power and strength to create change by standing up for what’s right.

The National Wales: Protests erupted across Wales following the deaths of Mohamud Hassan, Mouyaed Bashir and Sarah Everard in early 2021 (Picture: Huw Evans Agency)Protests erupted across Wales following the deaths of Mohamud Hassan, Mouyaed Bashir and Sarah Everard in early 2021 (Picture: Huw Evans Agency)

In 2022, the UK Government will take away our right to protest, remove the citizenship rights of many, and "review" the Human Rights Act. It’s not an understatement to say that this is a full scale assault on our rights to protest, to assemble, our literal human rights - and for some, the right to even live in Wales at all.

There are key laws (amongst a programme) tailored to appease the racist, radical right who lead and drive the Tory party.

Piggybacking on middle Englanders’ reactions to the manufactured culture wars and our Brexit hangover, the Conservative Party are centralising power in the Westminster cabinet and cracking down on any dissent or barriers to their exploitative and violent governmental programme.

READ MORE: Westminster 'increasingly authoritarian' says Welsh Government

The PCSC Bill exists because of the incredible and emotive BLM protests in 2020 and the actions of Extinction Rebellion, along with other awe-inspiring, long-running protests and direct actions across Britain.

These actions have consistently shown that sustained or targeted direct actions, which disrupt the regular flow of capital and labour, can achieve real, radical change.

The National Wales: A vigil for Sarah Everard in Cardiff (Picture: Huw Evans Agency)A vigil for Sarah Everard in Cardiff (Picture: Huw Evans Agency)

This Bill is a genuine threat to so many individuals and communities - and to me, it indicates that the impact of UK Government decisions are about to get a lot worse for a lot of people. We have to push back against it together.

The Bill creates a broad statutory offence of public nuisance with a maximum prison sentence of ten years.

It creates the new criminal offence of trespass, impacting the Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller (GRT) community severely, and effectively ending their traditional way of life.

READ MORE: Are the 'creeping tentacles' of the UK government threatening Welsh democracy?

Amongst other serious issues, the Bill will also increase the amount of time people spend in prison, disproportionately impacting Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic people and undermining the rehabilitation of prisoners.

This Bill will see perceived protest organisers and "troublemakers" targeted by police, inevitably leading to increased violence against Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic and working class people. 

For Undod, it could have stopped our campaign to save Welsh farming, the rallies for independence we've participated in , and it could curtail local actions by our members within their local communities. It will certainly impact the future of actions and campaigns across the UK.

The National Wales: Tess speaks at a protest outside the Senedd (Picture: Tessa Marshall)Tess speaks at a protest outside the Senedd (Picture: Tessa Marshall)

As Undod campaigns officer, I’m committed to working with members to resist both this Bill and the others - long after they become law.

I hope you join me in engaging in even more protest this year.

We have the power to create real change, simply by disrupting the regular flow of capital and labour; by handing out flyers; by sharing resources, and by raising our voices.

So make 2022 the year you help grind "business as usual" to a halt.

Get your mask on and join local Kill The Bill actions, and then keep turning up whenever and wherever you can.

Join the National Day of Action on Saturday 15th of January by showing up or organising an action in your community.

Kill the Bill.

With love and peace for the new year,

Tess

Undod Campaigns Officer

Undod is a movement for radical Welsh independence.

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