Ministers Considering Protest Restrictions During Olympics

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 77 months ago
Ministers Considering Protest Restrictions During Olympics

The Independent is reporting that ministers are so worried about the possibility of protests during the Olympics that they're looking at putting together "exclusion zones" where protests - particularly camped protests like Occupy - won't be allowed.

It sounds a bit like Beijing's specially designated "protest zones" in 2008, tucked away out of sight where nobody really saw them. (Government: if you haven't already worked this out, inviting comparison with China on freedom of speech is not a good look.)

In basic terms, the responsibility for clearing protest camps would switch from the landowner (which involves lengthy court cases, precisely what the City of London Corporation are starting with Occupy at St Paul's) to 'public authorities'. The police, in other words, who would be able to go in and clear encampments quickly, like at New York's Zuccotti Park this week. (Also: the Indy mentions in passing that police have powers to go into people's homes and confiscate political posters that might be used at protests during the Olympics. What the actual - ?)

The government may well find they've scored an own goal here. Nothing tends to wind people up like telling them they can't do something - even if they had no intention of doing something in the first place. We've already spotted several tweets suggesting some rather meta Olympic Park protests protesting against banning protests.

Photo by AMIAFAD from the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 20 November 2011


And didn't the government condemn China for banning protests? Double standards apply! Just like the US supporting protests and democracy in the middle east for the "Arab Spring" but clearing protest camps in NYC...


I am uncomfortable with the proposed changes as "leaked", but then again, if a the owner of a plot of private land asks a trespasser to leave, why does it take a lengthy legal process before you can get rid of them?

Much better to tidy that up so that if the owner of land asks a protester to leave their property, then if the protester is rude enough not to accede to a request - then they can be evicted asap.


The thing that concerns me about this kind of cobbled-together legislation is that it sets a precedent. I think we're going to be seeing a lot more chipping away of people's right to protest.