Political comedian Mark Thomas is taking Britain's anti-protest laws seriously…well, kind of. Thomas has been organizing people to challenge the UK law that prohibits unsanctioned demonstrations, where organizers and protesters are required to register their planned demo six days in advance and fill out the proper paperwork. Failure to do such means a hefty fine.
Thomas (shown in a video above roasting arms dealers and Blair at a recent awards ceremony honouring peace activist Brian Haw) rightly thinks this is downright stupid and Orwellian, stating on the CBC this morning that a friend of his was wearing a T-shirt with a peace symbol on it, when a police officer attempted to ticket her for protesting without a permit. As the law has it, one person with a pin, a picket, or a peace symbol, amounts to a demo.
So Thomas has rallied the troops and is attempting to clog the bureaucratic cogs with paperwork by having several people daily request demo forms. He says:
Some are serious, like protesting the war in Iraq, others are just silly, like the picket I saw the other day against animal cannibalism. But the effect should be the same – show them how wrong this law is, and how anti-democratic it is.
Thomas has been hard at work, with the daily demos (or McDemos, as they are called on his site), stand-up shows, speeches, a new book on arms trafficking, and a new website. This from the site:
On Thursday 5th April, thanks to a bunch of friends and associates, we handed in 1,184 applications at Charing Cross police station. With a lot more support from you all we managed to take the number of applications over the 2,000 mark. From confirmed reports we received from you the final total was 2,294 applications. The police told us the final figure according to them was 2,486 applications so I guess there were a few others that applied. Makes it a nice target to beat next time?
Check out his site for loads of more info and political monkeywrenching…