MINISTER SUBMITS COMPLAINTS TO METROPOLITAN POLICE ABOUT THEIR HANDLING OF THE CHRISTIAN WITNESS AT PRIDE LONDON
Please pray that the complaints will be dealt with fairly and in the interest of the freedom of the gospel and of our right to uphold God’s moral law in the public square.
COMPLAINT 1: THE POLICE REFUSED TO PREVENT THE HIGHLY INTIMIDATORY ACTION OF A PARADE SUPPORTER PLACING A LARGE LOUDSPEAKER RIGHT IN FRONT OF A PREACHER SO AS TO DROWN OUT WITH LOUD MUSIC HIS LAWFUL RIGHT TO PREACH
Whilst I was preaching, a parade supporter came and positioned a large loudspeaker right in front of me in order to drown out my preaching with loud music. This action was aggressive, intimidatory and constituted harassment. When I complained to the Police Liaison officers about it, I was told that there was nothing that they could do, because no law was being broken, even though this action was hostile, and a direct attempt to prevent our lawful right to preach.
I pointed out to the officers that we, in contrast, would not be allowed to do anything which might hinder the progress of the parade, nor to intimidate anyone within it (not that we would wish to do this), yet parade supporters are allowed with no intervention by the Police to hinder the progress of our lawful activity.
Holding a loudspeaker directly in front of people and in close proximity to them, which is blaring out loud music, could damage their hearing. I repeat, it is intimidatory behaviour. The Liaison Officers did not engage in the common sense policing whereby officers tell those to move away who are behaving in an anti-social manner and creating unnecessary tension and provocation.
COMPLAINT 2 : OUR LAWFUL RIGHT TO WITNESS AND PROTEST WAS SEVERELY HINDERED BY GROUPS OPPOSED TO US BEING POSITIONED RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, SO THAT NEITHER THOSE IN THE PARADE NOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC COULD PROPERLY SEE US
Our witness was considerably hindered by church groups strongly opposed to our stance, and we had to continually endure amplified music being played right in front us in order to drown out our preaching. We of course respect the right of other groups to support the parade and make their point, but they have the whole of the parade route and Trafalgar Square in which to do this. However, these groups occupied the whole area in front of our location, the whole area between us and the public who might wish to see what we had to say. Coming along with the aim of preventing anyone noticing our witness, and of nullifying our equal right to have a presence, seems to be unnecessarily provocative, and if we were not such reasonable and peaceful people, such attempts to neutralise us would potentially constitute a breach of the peace.
May I give you an example of why we feel somewhat aggrieved. The BBC carried a report showing a photograph of a ‘Christian’ group in support of the parade : https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-44745424 .
The report, however, completely failed to point out, and the reporter may even have been unaware of, the presence of our witness, which was strongly opposed to the parade. In other words, we were neutralised as far as the media were concerned, and as far people in the parade being able to see us was concerned. The result was that a major news outlet like the BBC was not accurate in terms of its reporting on the Christian reaction to the parade.
So we would like to ask the question, please, Were these church groups opposed to us and taking up their position in front of us, and between us and the parade, doing so on their own initiative on the day, or did they do so by prior arrangement with the Police? Did the Met tell these groups specifically where our witnessing area would be? Were these groups advised by the Met to stand in the location in which they did stand? Why did the Police not advise these groups to take up an alternative location so as not to hinder, obscure and neutralise our right to make our point in the sight of the parade? Why was normal Police practice in a demonstration situation of keeping opposing groups apart not adhered to in this instance?
For example, this week (July 31st) outside of the Royal Courts of Justice there was a group of Tommy Robinson supporters and a group of Antifa protestors, both groups being strongly opposed to each other. Both groups had equal access to the area in front of the courts and both groups could be equally well seen by the public, but the Police made sure that they were kept apart and that there was considerable space between them. Why was this principle of keeping opposing groups apart (whilst enabling the public to see them both) not adhered to in the case of our group at the Pride parade, and not adhered to to such a degree that those opposed to our stance were able to neutralise our witness to the extent that the BBC appeared not to even know that we were there?
COMPLAINT 3 : THE NEED FOR THE POLICE TO APPEAR IMPARTIAL WAS UNDERMINED BY OVERT ACTS OF SUPPORT FOR THE PARADE
It is vital in situations where there are public demonstrations of opposing viewpoints, viewpoints which also have political ramifications, that the Police appear to be totally impartial. However, various officers policing the parade were seen to be carrying rainbow flags, had rainbow-painted faces, or had rainbow-coloured epaulettes on their uniforms. How do such overt shows of support for the parade encourage those opposing the parade that the Police will be acting in a totally impartial manner?
May I please remind the Metropolitan Police that 161 MPs voted against the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) bill in 2013. So the Met cannot claim universal acceptance across the political spectrum for its stance on Pride, or that its stance is not politically and morally controversial.