Advance For A Free Future
On May 1st there was a march and rally, organised by The Advance Party, to demonstrate opposition to the Criminal Justice Bill. The march was attended by about 15,000 people but was largely ignored by the media. Debbie Staunton, stalwart campaigner of The Advance Party, writes of her impressions of the day.
Squall 7, Summer 1994, pg. 24.
For those of you who perhaps do not know anything about The Advance Party, I should explain that we are a collective of all sorts of people, from all backgrounds and of all ages, who have one thing in common: We enjoy attending free festivals and gatherings. We came together to provide an information and support service because we felt our rights were being abused; and having endured a summer of what we considered to be persecution at the hands of the authorities, felt that enuff was enuff.
Now, I must say that campaigning against the CJB on behalf of mere party-goers may seem to be rather a frivolous cause when compared to the more serious issues such as the right to silence, the right to a home, the right to travel freely and the right to protest. But, in attacking the freedom to gather, the Government have shown just how malicious, mean-spirited and, quite frankly, insane they really are. Humans are sociable creatures, and festivals in Britain are a part of our cultural heritage, in that they date back to Neolithic times.
From the moment I arrived in Hyde Park, I knew that this would be a momentous event. You could feel it in the air - we all could. Weeks of hard work had gone into this day and now it had arrived. The happy throng burgeoned, chatting, laughing, dancing to drums, a bicycle-powered sound system, and the Desert Storm posse’s camouflaged Transit which carries a full rig with drop down sides and speakers on the roof. A celebratory mood engulfed the marchers which was surprising, considering the nature of the threat we face but, such is the festival atmosphere.
The march itself was, for me, the best part of the whole day. You see, it became it's own entity, the march was an expression of feeling, from joyous celebration to complete outrage at the Government slaughtering our freedom and making criminals of the victims - us! We danced, shouted, screamed, whistled, drummed, waved and walked. The public, the people the Tories want to protect from the like of us, clapped and cheered from the buses and cars in support, we were even toasted by the well-to-do from a hotel window on Park Lane. The feeling of unity was tremendous, and we moved as one body, one soul, one heart and mind.
As we neared Trafalgar Square, the emotion was overwhelming; we packed ourselves in and the sight of so many wonderful people, from every walk of life, was breathtaking.
Needless to say, the rally and speakers were inspiring. Liberty, Charter 88, SQUASH, Alarm UK, The Green Party, CND, ANL and others. All spoke of the struggle we face and that, if the CJB becomes law, it will be the beginning not the end of our fight.
If we learn anything from the march, it is this: That we have a voice; that others support us; that we are right to do what we do. All of us together; a powerful vision of how things could be in the future. We have respect, we have hope and we have each other. We are not alone.
For more articles about the Criminal Justice Act and Public Order Act 1994 - covering the build-up, the resistance, the consequences, plus commentary of discussions in the House of Commons about it click here.