In both the Indian nationalist movements demands for the end of imperialism and the call for civil rights in America, blocking roads and reclaiming space acted as a means for disempowered people to symbolically mark the inequality and injustice they faced at the hands of unjust governments and ruling authorities. On the 9 March 1965 in defiance of authorities Martin Luther King led a March to a site where just days earlier protestors had been beaten and attacked. At the site of the attack over 2000 protestors knelt and prayed. This act of defiance was both part of a wider demand for African American calls for the vote and a show of peace – a counter to the brutality of an undemocratic ruling authority.
Blocking roads and taking space have long histories in protest movements from peace activism to anti-imperialism, from calls for civil rights to trade union demands for workers rights. These moments of appropriation are a deliberate means to challenge injustice and to call for an extension of rights: calls for power to be distributed in a more equal fashion.
Soaring over the old bailey, lady justice stands an impartial guardian. Inscribed beneath her the words ‘defend the children of the poor and punish the wrongdoer.’ Are you willing to stand by and have your rights taken under the ideological banner of economic cuts? This isn’t about money, it’s about division, untruth and injustice. It’s about centuries worth of hard fought freedoms being attacked.
On October 5th join us to protect those rights – to tell the government that they have no mandate to block our access to justice. Stand together and say no to the cruelty of taking away the rights of the most vulnerable in society. Say yes to equality before the law. Or what’s left of us then?