On 17 June, the Guardian published a letter from 152 politicians, lawyers, academics, journalists and campaigners calling on the police to stop labelling protesters as domestic extremists.
I’m one of the people who signed that letter. And I’m one of the people the police call a domestic extremist. According to my police files, my first entry on the domestic extremist database was in 1999 when I was arrested for trying to stop arms dealers travelling to a weapons fair. I know first hand the damage this label does and exactly why it should be abolished.
Other signatories to the letter are also on the domestic extremist database. These include the Green peer Jenny Jones, writer and performer Mark Thomas and John Catt, a campaigner who took a successful challenge on his inclusion on the database to the European Court.
The letter, organised by the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) states that:
Categorising legitimate free speech and dissent as “domestic extremism” intimidates and alienates people from taking part in protest activities, restricting their ability to exercise their rights to freedom of assembly and association. This cannot continue.
Netpol is currently running a campaign to abolish the domestic extremist label. And the letter supports its campaign:
We collectively support the demands of the Network for Police Monitoring’s “Protest Is Not Extremism” campaign, which calls on the police to stop categorising campaigning and protest activities as domestic extremism. We also seek a clear separation of protest policing from counter-terrorism and better protection for campaigners against surveillance, including independent oversight of how police use it in relation to political protest.
Read more: Here’s why I’m one of 152 people who want the police to stop labelling protesters as domestic extremists