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There should be no law to forbid people parading in paramilitary uniforms

“BRIXTON’S POLICE SURRENDERED THE STREETS TO BLACK-SHIRTED PARAMILITARIES”, writes Guido Fawkes.

The Black Lives Matter paramilitary-style march in Brixton has had a lot of coverage, including videos of protestors yelling at police and calling them “terrorists”. Only three arrests were made despite the widespread “threatening, abusive or insulting” behaviour being clear public order offences…

That tiny arrest number is even more surprising when taking into account photos of dozens of men wearing matching para-military outfits with face coverings and branded stab vests reading “FF Force” (Forever Family).

In 1936, a new public order act was introduced to counter the rise of Oswald Mosley’s fascist Black Shirts, banning political uniforms

Guido goes on to quote chapter and verse from the 1936 law, and asks, as many are asking, why it was not enforced.

I would like to step back a moment. “Forever Family” do come across as sinister. I think their resemblance to Mosley’s Fascists should be pointed out often and loudly. But wearing an anti-stab vest is not the same as stabbing someone. Who did they hurt by marching in columns? They looked threatening in a general way, but who specifically did they threaten? Let them march. Let them disfigure the London scene wearing whatever outfits they like. Let them discredit their cause and discredit the media’s whitewashing of it. I will go further and say that Mosley’s followers should have been allowed to march in uniform as well. Not to riot, not to beat people up, just to swank around in pretendy uniforms and look like the silly asses they were.

OK, that ship has sailed. This law has been on the books for more than eighty years. I am conscious that when I ask whether one should support the equal application of a bad law I am merely repeating the question Niall Kilmartin asked more eloquently in this post from last year, “The equal oppression of the laws”. Don’t blame me for copying him, blame him for asking a good question that is widely applicable.

15 comments to There should be no law to forbid people parading in paramilitary uniforms

  • Agammamon

    People hardly question whether a law oppressing them is justified – they’re just interested in it being applied to everyone else too. Its how governments get away with ratcheting up the oppression.

    Its usually more obvious when it comes to economic regulation. Where the incumbent industry facing competition from an upstart doesn’t demand the regulation leashing them be removed, only that the upstart also be leashed.

    I have to say that, honestly, the desire for freedom is not part of human nature. Those who merely wish to be left alone are a weird minority. And its why ‘democracy’ is so popular – mutual enslavement.

  • staghounds

    That vest is an offensive weapon, that is.

  • John B

    It’s not what they do, it’s what they represent… the destruction of our institutions with the connivence of the ruling class, whilst the police fail to uphold the law.

    It was the ‘ordinary’ people who dealt with the Black Shirts by taking to the streets to oppose them. The real danger is ‘ordinary’ people let them get away with it, hiding in their cupboards so big-bad virus doesn’t get them.

    The exact same laissez-faire towards the National Socialist in Germany ended well didn’t it?

  • John

    During recent London riots the media made much of a heroic black man carrying a supine white one over his shoulder. His comment, I did it to save him being killed, was allowed to pass without asking the obvious – who was about to kill him?

    A little research revealed that our hero was a MMA instructor and was wearing his fighting Kevlar gloves. Rather odd for someone whose stated purpose was to keep the peace.

    The story died quickly. Not all self-described peacekeepers are necessarily what they claim.

  • Mr Ed

    The Sage of Kettering’s father was present at the Battle of Cable Street, and was physically involved in the attacks on Mosley’s Blackshirts, he found himself a co-belligerent with the Commies. Now the Commies are parading openly (and for now, somewhat ridiculously) as a militia. The government does not like people organising themselves into organisations much, and I suppose that it is fair to ask ‘What lawful purpose could it serve?‘ to have a uniformed organisation with political motives marching in the streets, and I suppose going back to 1936, you had to be there. Of course, had this been some form of ‘Right Wing’ (white) grouping, the police would have rushed to attack them in all likelihood.

    But looking at the words of Section 1 of the Act that create the offence:

    (1) Subject as hereinafter provided, any person who in any public place or at any public meeting wears uniform signifying his association with any political organisation or with the promotion of any political object shall be guilty of an offence:

    I suppose that the Attorney-General might be able to charge an NHS worker attending, say, a ‘Protect the NHS’ rally whilst in work clothes with an offence under that section. That I suppose is the test that shows that it is an absurd and tyrannical law.

    Section 2 of the Public Order Act 1936, which the cited piece does not mention, is actually the more pertinent:

    Prohibition of quasimilitary organisations.

    (1)If the members or adherents of any association of persons, whether incorporated or not, are—

    (a)organised or trained or equipped for the purpose of enabling them to be employed in usurping the functions of the police or of the armed forces of the Crown; or

    (b)organised and trained or organised and equipped either for the purpose of enabling them to be employed for the use or display of physical force in promoting any political object, or in such manner as to arouse reasonable apprehension that they are organised and either trained or equipped for that purpose;

    then any person who takes part in the control or management of the association, or in so organising or training as aforesaid any members or adherents thereof, shall be guilty of an offence under this section:
    Provided that in any proceedings against a person charged with the offence of taking part in the control or management of such an association as aforesaid it shall be a defence to that charge to prove that he neither consented to nor connived at the organisation, training, or equipment of members or adherents of the association in contravention of the provisions of this section.

    Just you imagine if you lived in that area of London, and were burgled, and this Forever Family (sounds like a dog adoption agency) militia usurped the function of the police by not turning up and giving you a crime number for your home insurance.

  • The exact same laissez-faire towards the National Socialist in Germany ended well didn’t it? (John B, August 11, 2020 at 8:25 am)

    On the one hand, the Weimar republic had no laissez-faire attitude but many laws to regulate speech (like our modern ‘hate speech’ laws) and protest, and used them.

    On the other hand, it could be argued that our modern state, with its ‘hate speech’ laws but also its enforcement, both arbitrary and slovenly, does indeed have resemblances to Weimar.

  • Aetius

    Quite the contrary, thank God there is such a law.
    If Forever Family Force is not soon challenged, several things are likely to happen:

    They will organise and parade in other cities where there is a significant black community;
    Drug gangs will move into FFF, if they are not already present in it;
    Salafists Muslim groups will see the opportunity and set up their own militias;
    Cities like London will have formal no go zones policed by such ethnic militias;
    The eco-Marxists behind Extinction Rebellion will see the green light, and up their aggression too;
    Groups of the ilk of Britain First will prosper.

    The total destruction of our society, which was the intent of Multi-Culturalism, will come that much closer.

    Mr Ed, thanks for pointing out the significance of section 2 of the Public Order Act 1936.

  • It is impossible to understand the politics of the Left without grasping that it is all about deniable intimidation. (‘The Crusade of Innocents’, Belmont article by Richard Fernandez, 2010)

    As Mr Ed (August 11, 2020 at 9:44 am) comments:

    had this been some form of ‘Right Wing’ (white) grouping, the police would have rushed to attack them in all likelihood.

    In US cities like Seattle and Portland, I suspect that a lack of resistance reflects the public’s knowledge that the authorities will not be so restrained in prosecuting anyone who resists the mob as they are in dealing with said mob. In St Louis, the Soros-backed prosecutor appears to have gone rather far in treating resistance as criminal. (Gone rather far for the US, that is; there are no castle laws here and I wonder what would happen to anyone seen picking up a cricket bat, let alone a deactivated gun, in the face of a threatening wokemob.)

    That said, it is significant that BLM operate most blatantly where the authorities protect them, and where a woke public were trained not to object by local public opinion even before the mob gave them other reasons to fear. The part of Seattle CHOP/CHAZ took over was the wokest part of a woke city, and Portland’s politics have long been notorious.

  • TDK

    It was the ‘ordinary’ people who dealt with the Black Shirts by taking to the streets to oppose them.

    This is a nice fantasy told by the hard left to justify its own use of similar tactics.

    If you follow that narrative, then the decline started in 1936 at Cable Street. This is essentially the idea that events are determined by street fighting, which the left won in the UK and lost in Germany. Never mind that ordinary people don’t tend to get involved, let’s pretend that they do. Antifa are ordinary people, dontcha know!

    Other narratives suggest the decline started in 1934 after filmed incidents of people being beaten up at the Olympia rally broke middle class support, including that of the Daily Mail. Added to that the reality of fascist rule in Germany with increasing levels of violence and oppression, might just have persuaded significant numbers of potential supporters.

  • -XC

    I think the question my family is tired of hearing is: are you willing to see people killed to enforce that law?

    Even “civil laws” require enforcement of penalties, which eventually lead to “armed government workers” killing people who disagree or resist.

    I’m not saying there shouldn’t be laws, I’m just saying you have to be willing to support the ultimate price of the law.

    -XC

  • Sam Duncan

    “There should be no law to forbid people parading in paramilitary uniforms”

    There isn’t. The law doesn’t forbid the wearing of paramilitary clothing. It doesn’t even forbid organizations having paramilitary-style uniforms.

    It forbids political organizations having uniforms of any kind.

    “I suppose that the Attorney-General might be able to charge an NHS worker attending, say, a ‘Protect the NHS’ rally whilst in work clothes with an offence under that section. That I suppose is the test that shows that it is an absurd and tyrannical law.”

    Don’t be absurd. “Protect the NHS” really means “Boo to a Certain Party’s Policy As Regards the NHS”. And, although such events are rare, it’s not hard to imagine people wearing exactly the same uniform at a rally supporting that party’s policy. Therefore, the uniform itself can’t be construed to indicate association with any particular political organisation or with the promotion of a particular political object: the political opinions of the person wearing it can’t be discerned purely from the presence of the uniform. It isn’t the uniform of a political organization or object.

    The law is clear, and while it’s certainly a restriction on liberty and I agree that people should be free to make fools of themselves, it’s no more egregious – arguably much less so – than the ones limiting spending on electoral campaigns.

  • Mr Ed

    SD
    Don’t be absurd.

    (1) Subject as hereinafter provided, any person who in any public place or at any public meeting wears uniform signifying his association with… …the promotion of any political object shall be guilty of an offence:

    It is perfectly clear that if there is a ‘uniform’ that ‘signifies’ the wearer’s association with the promotion of any political object, then the actus reus is made out as is the offence. My whole point is that if the law is applied with malicious intent or by a lunatic, it has terrible scope, the only hope is jury (or even judicial) nullification.
    It forbids political organizations having uniforms of any kind.

    Only in a public place or at a public meeting and if it signifies association with a movement or promoting any political object.

    Interestingly, the 1936 Act does not apply in Northern Ireland. At the time, I expect that the local laws were sufficiently ‘robust’ for this not to be needed, or even to have been an unwanted liberalising measure, the Northern Ireland Parliament being pretty much left to its own devices (and jurisdiction) at this time.

    In Scotland, the corresponding law officer and Courts were given the functions that the High Court has in England and Wales for enforcing this, but the England/Wales provisions allowing for a period on remand were not read over into Scots criminal law, with its historic aversion (not found in principle in modern English law) to people being remanded to prison before trial.

    The original section 4 of the Act prohibited the carrying of offensive weapons at public meetings, from which you might infer that they were presumably carried from time to time.

    4 Prohibition of offensive weapons at public meetings and processions

    (1) Any person who, while present at any public meeting or on the occasion of any public procession, has with him any offensive weapon, otherwise than in pursuance of lawful authority, shall be guilty of an offence.

    The exception being broadly State functionaries.

    AFAIK, it wasn’t unlawful to have an offensive weapon in public in Great Britain until 1953, when the burden was put on the accused to show a lawful excuse.

  • APL

    John: “His comment, I did it to save him being killed, was allowed to pass without asking the obvious – who was about to kill him?”

    I saw that and I thought exactly the same thing.

    John: “The story died quickly”.

    Because a moments consideration completely undermines the narrative. It’s a sort of subliminal advertising. That image is flashed before your eyes, and then on to the next lie.

    John: “Not all self-described peacekeepers are necessarily what they claim.”

    Almost certainly not that one. But it was used as a hook to show the saviour as not only a saviour of a hapless white man, but also a savour of oppressed black children, with absent fathers.

    Not interested in the saviours personal marital arrangements, nor how many bastard children he might have sired. This is the BBC, and the clown car brigade moves on.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed – my father was Marxist, he did not break with the Communist Party till after the “Battle of Cable Street”.

    The Communist Party told him to picket a shop run by a lady (her husband ran a garment trade “sweat shop” small factory) – my father said no, and then their tone became disrespectful.

    So my father picked up their conference table and hit them with it.

    That was a parting of the ways.

  • […] There should be no law to forbid people parading in paramilitary uniforms […]

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