Letter: Eyewitness accounts of how a rally against the Criminal Justice Bill turned into a riot

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The Independent Online
Sir: Not for the first time, a peaceful and sincere demonstration - this time, against the impending Criminal Justice Bill - has been marred by the behaviour of a minority.

Most of those who went on the march were, I believe, there like myself to 'defend diversity, defend dissent', in the words of one placard I saw. The right to peaceful protest must be safeguarded and whatever the headaches that New Age travellers and rave parties cause, criminalisation is not the solution. Unfortunately, as usual, there was a macho hard-left minority present, to whom liberal values of tolerance, justice and protest are of no interest.

Their agenda is at least as authoritarian as any the right puts forward: class war, revolution and destruction. They want conformity on their terms, not the right to non-conformity that inspires liberals.

I shall continue to go on demonstrations to show my unease at unjust legislation and policy. I urge lots of 'ordinary' liberal citizens to do the same, to marginalise those from the nasty, intolerant and repressive hard left whose provocation of violence serves only the interests of the repressive right.

Yours sincerely,

SARAH LUDFORD

London, N1

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