Pictures: Traveller communities unite at Drive to Survive demonstration in London

By Hannah Davenport

A WIDE RANGE of groups gathered this afternoon to highlight the threat to Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller (GRT) communities posed by The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill.

The event was organised by Drive to Survive, a coalition of Romany Gypsy, Irish Traveller, nomadic activists and community organisations.

Demonstrators drew attention to section four of The PCSC Bill about unauthorised encampments, which will criminalise trespass with intent to reside.

Drive to Survive co-founder and activist Sherrie Smith told Redaction Report: “Our communities are absolutely shellshocked (by this Bill). We’ve never as a community come together as Drive to Survive has to try and challenge what’s going on. 

“We’re absolutely petrified, all of us, because we know that our language, our culture and our history are almost gone.”

Image: Hannah Davenport

[READ MORE: ‘We’ve always been used to people attacking us in the streets, but we never thought it would be state sanctioned’ – Campaigner fears policing bill outlaws Traveller communities]

The event brought together a wide range of groups including Stand Up to Racism, Black Lives Matter, The People’s Assembly, the SNP, Liberty, Friends of the Earth and Extinction Rebellion.

Speakers included Labour MPs Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Zarah Sultana and Andy Slaughter as well as the organiser of Appleby Fair Billy Welch and other representatives of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

The House of Commons voted by 365 votes to 265 in favour of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on Monday, July 5, 2021.

Featured Images: Hannah Davenport

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