Anti-Lockdown Protests

Justice For the Hyde Park One

There follows a guest post by Andrew Rootsey, the solicitor acting for Debbie Hicks, an anti-lockdown protestor. Debbie is hoping to appeal two recent conviction to the High Court, but needs to raise £10,000 to do so. You can find her DonorBox fundraiser here.

As you may recall, we secured Debbie’s acquittal at Cheltenham Magistrates Court on the December 20th 2021 for offences relating to organising/being involved in organising a gathering of more than 30 people during a period of national lockdown or alternatively for participating in the gathering.

The relevant gathering was a protest held in Stratford Park in Stroud in November 2020 against the restrictions imposed on the British public under the Coronavirus Regulations. The protest was called the ‘Freedom Rally’ and was attended by more than 50 people.

The Stroud ‘Freedom Rally’ was held two days into the second national lockdown and therefore at the time it was illegal to organise a gathering of more than 30 people or to meet in groups of more than two people. A conviction would have left her liable for a £10,000 fine.

Ms. Hicks was acquitted of both offences after the court accepted our argument that her arrest and prosecution was a disproportionate interference with her human rights – namely the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, given that she was engaging in a legitimate protest.

The court found that Ms. Hicks had organised the ‘Freedom Rally’ and had breached the Coronavirus Regulations in force at the time by doing so. However, she had a reasonable excuse because she was attending a legitimate, peaceful and well-organised protest. The officers on the ground at the protest had been labouring under a misapprehension of the law – that protesting was not lawful under the Regulations – and were essentially imposing a blanket ban on protesting. Therefore, their actions in arresting her were not rational or proportionate.

Thousands Gather at Scotland Anti-Lockdown Protest

An ‘unplanned’ anti-lockdown protest in Scotland’s largest city has taken place today that appears to be one of the country’s largest demonstrations since the pandemic began. MailOnline has more.

Thousands of protesters gathered at Glasgow Green at 1pm on Saturday as public anger boiled over at First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s latest Covid curbs.

The activists began the unplanned procession by marching through Argyle Street, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, during what the campaign group called a “Freedom Rally”.

Some of them were pictured carrying placards saying “Do you trust your government with your life?” and “vaccine passports means your body will be owned by the state forever”. 

The protest is believed to have been organised by Scotland Against Lockdown, a group that runs campaigns against mandatory facemasks.

The campaigners are also opposed to the Scottish and U.K. Governments’ Coronavirus Act 2020, social distancing and mandatory vaccines, according to its social media pages. 

Official data showed Covid cases in Wales and Scotland are increasing faster than in England despite the nations’ harsher restrictions.

Confirmed infections are rising more than twice as quickly in Scotland as they are in England, jumping from 6,976 to 14,006 in the former nation in the week up to January 2nd – an increase of more than 100%.

For comparison, cases increased 44% in England to 129,014 during the same period. They increased by more than 52% in Wales to 9,718. 

Worth reading in full.

Debbie Hicks Cleared of Breaching Lockdown Restrictions

Debbie Hicks, the anti-lockdown activist who is facing a number of attempts to prosecute her for protesting in various ways, was found not guilty earlier today in Cheltenham Magistrates Court. BBC News has more.

A woman who helped to organise a rally during lockdown has been found not guilty of breaching Covid regulations.

Debbie Hicks attended the Freedom Rally in Stroud, Gloucestershire, in November 2020.

The free speech activist was arrested on the day and faced two charges relating to lockdown regulations.

A district judge has found her not guilty and said police were incorrect to act as though there was a blanket ban on protests at the time.

Cheltenham Magistrates Court was told the Freedom Rally took place in Stratford Park on November 7th, two days after the latest round of lockdown regulations had come into effect.

Those regulations banned gatherings of more than two people.

More than 50 people attended the rally and police, who identified Ms. Hicks as an organiser – something she denied – approached her and told her she might be arrested if she did not leave.

Ms Hicks, who said she was not against vaccinations but wanted to take part in the rally to support “freedom to protest”, remained at the scene and was eventually arrested.

PC Tim Burch, from Gloucestershire Police, told the hearing that officers had been briefed that the rally was “not reasonable” because of the lockdown restrictions coming in.

Ms Hicks, of Stratford Road, Stroud, faced two charges; holding or being involved in a gathering of more than 30 people, and participating in a gathering of more than two people.

She said she was exercising her rights under the European Convention of Human Rights articles 10 and 11 – that deal with freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

“I felt human rights superseded that [lockdown] and it was my right to be there to protest,” she told the court, adding that she was “shocked” by the level of policing on the day.

Clearing her of both charges, District Judge Nicholas Wattam said while the evidence proved she was one of the event organisers, he found the police response to the rally was “not proportionate”.

“I’m concerned that the understanding of police officers on the ground was flawed,” he said, adding that it was not the fault of the police at the event as they were taking their instructions from senior officers.

The judge added that a blanket ban on public gatherings was not in place at the time, and if it had been it would have been a breach of human rights.

Debbie was only able to fight this case because readers of the Daily Sceptic generously contributed to her crowdfunder, meaning she could afford a crack legal team from Murrays Partnership. Wish Debbie luck – she still has four more cases to fight.

Anti-Lockdown Protest Sweeps Through Brussels

In response to the Belgian Government tightening Covid restrictions last Friday, anti-lockdown protesters marched through the streets of Brussels, the nation’s capital. Belgium has become the latest European country to receive this kind of backlash after imposing new Covid measures, with similar anti-lockdown protests occurring in Austria and the Netherlands only yesterday. MailOnline has the story.

Hordes of protesters marched through the streets towards the headquarters of the European Union, shouting ‘Freedom! Freedom!’ and carrying placards which read ‘everyday fascism’ emblazoned with yellow stars, drawing comparisons with the identification tags Jews were forced to wear in Nazi-occupied Europe.

The Government on Friday introduced fresh Covid restrictions – the third week in a row that rules have been tightened amid the latest surge in cases.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that nurseries and primary schools will close for the holiday season a week early, and children must now wear masks from the age of 6 years-old. Indoor events will only be allowed with a maximum of 200 people.

Previously, the Government closed nightclubs, and ordered bars and restaurants to shut at 11pm for three weeks. 

The main crowd in Sunday’s mostly peaceful march had already dispersed when about 100 protesters ran into a riot police barricade cordoning off access to the European Commission.

After a brief stand-off with police, protesters threw rubbish and other objects, including a bicycle, at police and set off firecrackers and flares.

It comes a day after many cities in Europe saw demonstrations against new restrictions in the run up to Christmas – upwards of 40,000 people held protests in Vienna, Austria, while thousands more piled into the streets of Utrecht in the Netherlands and Frankfurt in Germany. 

Austria last month became the first country in Western Europe to reimpose a lockdown, which is set to last 20 days, and said it would make vaccinations mandatory from February. 

It comes as governments across Europe warn of the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant which has now been registered in several nations including the U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Norway…

Meanwhile in Austria, police used pepper spray and made several arrests on Saturday when more than 40,000 people marched through Vienna to protest against a lockdown and plans to make vaccinations compulsory.

Faced with a surge in infections, the government last month made Austria the first country in Western Europe to reimpose a lockdown and said it would make vaccinations mandatory from February.

Worth reading in full.

Anti-Lockdown Protests Erupt in York, Austria and the Netherlands

Thousands of anti-lockdown protestors have descended on the streets of York, Austria and the Netherlands as new Covid restrictions are imposed across Europe in response to the (seemingly harmless) Omicron variant. MailOnline has more.

No one has died with the new super mutant Omicron Covid variant despite the strain being spotted in 38 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed.

But world leaders have been implementing extra measures including large fines to encourage populations to get fully vaccinated.

In Austria, unvaccinated people who breach lockdown rules – which have been extended to December 11th – face fines of up to €500. Anyone refusing to comply with vaccination status checks could be fined up to €1,450.

In Vienna, thousands protested on Saturday against restrictions on public life designed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in York for a so-called ‘freedom protest’ and took part in musical performances in front of York Minster.

Meanwhile, several thousand people gathered in the central Dutch town of Utrecht on Saturday to criticise new coronavirus restrictions that came into force last weekend.

Protesters walked through the streets carrying banners saying “Medical Freedom Now!” and waving Dutch flags. A heavy police presence was visible along the route of the march.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Government has announced that all travellers to Britain will need to take a lateral flow or PCR Covid test 48 hours before departure from Tuesday. This is in spite of Grant Shapps ruling out pre-departure PCR tests yesterday. MailOnline has more.

SAGE Adviser Demands People Get Booster Jabs to Avoid Anti-Lockdown Protests

Professor John Edwards, a SAGE adviser, has openly stated that Britain will not share the same fate as much of Continental Europe which has experienced a rapid rise in Covid cases. However, Edwards has connected the necessity for booster vaccines with the emergence of anti-lockdown protests across various European countries, such as the Netherlands, urging members of the public to get triple-jabbed to avoid similar protests breaking out in the U.K. MailOnline has the story.

A SAGE adviser has moved to reassure Britons the UK will not see a spike in Covid cases like Austria and Germany, but warned Europe’s soaring infection rate lockdown riots should act as a ‘warning’ as he urged people to get their booster jabs.  

Professor John Edmunds said today that opposition to stringent restrictions on the continent have demonstrated the importance of booster jabs, warning, “it is pretty clear immunity does wane”. 

“What you see now in central Europe with these rapid increase in cases, you see the importance of vaccination,” Edmunds told Sky News

But Edmunds said the U.K. was unlikely to be hit by the Christmas chaos because the country “is in a slightly different position.”  

This comes amid a fresh wave of Covid infections on the continent that has sent nations back into draconian restrictions and could see excess deaths start to rise again.

Italy is considering a lockdown of the unvaccinated, it emerged yesterday, which would make it the second country to impose the controversial intervention after Austria.

And Germany’s incoming Government has said that it wants unvaccinated people to be barred from going to work and travelling on public transport amid what Angela Merkel calls “dramatic” infection levels. The Netherlands has also introduced a 7pm curfew for pubs and restaurants amid rising cases there.

Austria has made vaccinations mandatory and yesterday announced it would return to lockdown on Monday, with Germany poised to follow suit after health officials warned they cannot rule out a full shutdown. 

The reintroduction of restrictions across Europe have sparked a fierce backlash and fevered protests broke out in cities including Rotterdam overnight, where riot police fired warning shots, injuring protestors marching against the Covid measures.

Today, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Vienna with the far-right opposition Freedom Party among those who have called for the protest and vowed to combat the new restrictions.

Demonstrations against virus measures are also expected in other European countries including Switzerland, Croatia and Italy. 

Worth reading in full.

Dutch Police Open Fire on Anti-Lockdown Protestors

Seven people have been injured after Dutch police fired on anti-lockdown protestors on Friday night, amid rising anger at new Covid restrictions. MailOnline has more.

Police confirmed the injuries in Rotterdam on Friday and said they had fired both “warning shots” and directly at protesters – but did not say if live ammunition or rubber bullets were fired.

Local media reported that at least 20 people were arrested.

Police also fired water cannons to disperse demonstrators who lit fires and set off fireworks in one of Rotterdam’s main shopping streets, one week after the new COVID-19 measures came into force.

The violent scenes came amid a rising anger at coronavirus measures across Europe, with Austria making vaccines mandatory and introducing a full lockdown from Monday, and German ministers not ruling out following its neighbour’s lockdown lead.

Restrictions have also been placed on the unvaccinated in Germany – where they have been banned from Restaurants – as well as in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Video from social media appeared to show a person being shot in Rotterdam, but there was no immediate word on what happened.

Police said in a tweet that it was “still unclear how and by whom” the person was apparently shot.

Local media reported seven people were injured and at least 20 were arrested, with one eyewitness – a press photographer – telling De Telegraaf they saw shell casings “everywhere on the floor”.

Police spokesperson Patricia Wessels confirmed that police fired shots, though it was not immediately clear what type of rounds were fired.

“We fired warning shots and there were also direct shots fired because the situation was life-threatening,” she said.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Michael P. Senger has posted a tweet showing Dutch police shooting at protestors.