The activist known as “Stop Brexit Man” has had equipment seized by police officers attempting to shut down his regular protest near parliament, as a new protest law came into force.
Steve Braya former coin dealer and failed Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, posted videos on Twitter showing police officers approaching him near Parliament Square on Tuesday. His sound system was seized.
The PoliceCrime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which came into force on Tuesday, introduced an offence of intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance, in an effort to crack down on disruptive guerrilla protests.
These are the sort of tactics that have been used by climate change protesters who have taken their campaigns to the streets. The Ministry of Justice said the police would be supported with new powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to parliament.
Bray posted videos of himself setting up his protest on Tuesday morning, acknowledging he was doing so “despite police warnings”. He tweeted: “The police are harassing hell out of this protest today.”
The Metropolitan police have been approached for comment.
Jun Pang, a policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said: “Protest is not a gift from the state, it is a fundamental right. Being able to choose what, how and when we protest is a vital part of a healthy, functioning democracy, and nowhere is this more important than at sites of power like parliament – especially at a time when the government is bringing in laws that make it harder to challenge them.
“Protests are by nature noisy and disruptive. It is very worrying the police have already started enforcing the broad powers within the Policing Act in such a heavy-handed and punitive way. As the government tries to push through further attacks on protest in the public order bill and the rights removal bill, we must all oppose these measures that will make it much harder for us all to stand up for what we believe in.”