Lancaster 'Defend the Right to Protest' May Day March to go ahead
Lancaster and Morecambe Trades Union Council will hold its annual May Day March on Saturday May 1.
This year’s theme is Defend the Right to Protest: Defend our Gypsy Roma and Traveller Communities.
The organisation said that as well as a physical protest in the city, live streams would also go ahead for those that continue to need to self-isolate.
Nationally, 200 trades unions, campaign groups and other organisations are united in their opposition to the government's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The May Day march coincides with a national day of action in protest at the contents of the bill.
Audrey Glover, spokesperson for Lancaster and Morecambe Trades Union Council, said: "Initially the government stated that the bill was a response to movements like Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter.
"However, the 300 page proposed bill contains a myriad of amendments on existing legislation.
"In particular, the bill will increase police powers to stop any protests, including single person protests if they are deemed to cause “annoyance”.
"This will potentially see bans on picket lines, Pride, anti-racist protests, and protests such as the school students’ strikes against climate change.
"Further, it removes the right to judicial review, existing legislation that allows government policy to be challenged through the courts."
Lancaster and Morecambe TUC said that the bill, if passed, effectively criminalises the Gypsy Roma and Traveller way of life, giving the police powers to seize homes, impose fines and imprison people for camping by the roadside.
Ms Glover said: "It is already the case that the provision of existing sites is woefully inadequate.
"Our Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities already suffer severe inequalities.
"In education, children are disproportionately excluded from school and members of the communities have repeatedly reported discriminatory practices such as the denial of entry to local pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities.
"This culminated in the well-attended, peaceful Travellers Lives Matter protest, supported by Lancaster and Morecambe Trades Union Council last September.
"On Saturday we will march in solidarity with our GRT communities and hear an invited speaker."
She added: "The Lancaster and Morecambe May Day march is always inclusive of everyone.
"It is a peaceful celebration of workers' struggles locally and internationally.
"It is a celebration of unity and solidarity.
"This year it is as important as ever to demonstrate our democratic right to protest without which many of our rights and freedoms would not have been won."
The March and Rally is supported by Lancaster and Morecambe NEU, Lancaster University UCU, RMT, UNITE, Extinction Rebellion, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Lancaster Labour Party, Lancaster Green Party, Stand Up to Racism, People Before Profit, East Meets West and members of the Gypsy and Traveller Communities in Lancaster and Morecambe.
Speakers include Catherine Varey Lupton from the Traveller Community, Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith, NHS nurse Ian Mooney, Coun Gina Dowding from The Green Party and others.