Sunday 7 May 2023

Republic: "We will continue to protest with one simple message: Charles is not our king, it is time to abolish the monarchy"

Graham Smith, CEO of Republic, has issued the following statement: 

"Yesterday, as we prepared for a peaceful and lawful protest, a number of Republic's team were arrested and detained for the rest of the day.

These arrests are a direct attack on our democracy and the fundamental rights of every person in the country. Each and every police officer involved on the ground should hang their heads in shame. They showed no judgement, no common sense and no basic decency. This was a heavy handed action which had the appearance of a pre-determined arrest that would have occurred regardless of the evidence or our actions. 

The right to protest peacefully in the UK no longer exists. Instead we have a freedom to protest that is contingent on political decisions made by ministers and senior police officers.

The right to dissent and protest is one of the most profound and important rights in a democracy. Many people will disagree with what we were protesting about, but that right to protest must be protected. Anyone may find themselves wanting to protest against a government policy, a grave injustice or in solidarity with victims of a visiting world leader. Such protests must always be freely conducted as a matter of right, not on the basis of permission from the state.

I have campaigned on the issue of the monarchy for twenty years. Time and again I have been told the monarchy protects us from tyranny, that the monarch guards our democracy and freedoms, defending us against the excesses of government. These arrests put the lie to those claims and are another example of the weakness of our constitution and the failure of our constitutional monarchy.

The Crown is one part of our failing constitution that concentrates too much power in the hands of government at the expense of parliament and people. We need a fundamental shift in power. We need elected representatives who are able to resist such draconian laws as those introduced this week, and a constitution that empowers the people to defend their rights.

These arrests have also destroyed whatever trust might have existed between peaceful protesters and the Metropolitan police. What is the point in being open and candid with the police, working with their liaison officers and meeting senior commanders, if all their promises and undertakings turn out to be a lie?

It is notable that King Charles has said nothing about these arrests. Rather than defend our liberty and values he is content celebrating his anointment as monarch while citizens are locked up. What is the point of a head of state who will say nothing and do nothing to defend the people?

These arrests were not about protecting people from harm, but about protecting the King from embarrassment. It was the state wanting to stamp down dissent in order to present an image of a grateful and consenting public at the time of the coronation.

Rather than a puppet-king, doing the bidding of the government, we need an independent elected head of state, there to stand on the wall and guard our constitution and our rights from government power. 

Republic has a strong track record of peaceful and lawful campaigning and protests. We will not be deterred from further protest. We will protest on Trafalgar Square, we will protest on The Mall, outside Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace. We will protest outside Downing Street and parliament, in Windsor and around the UK. As much as possible we will  continue to protest wherever Charles goes, wherever William goes. We will continue to protest with one simple message: Charles is not our king, it is time to abolish the monarchy."

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