Next week, Netpol is launching a new campaign demanding that the police stop categorising campaigning and protest activities as ‘extremism’. The category “domestic extremist” used by the police to smear campaigners is not defined in law but has nevertheless been applied indiscriminately to participants in a wide range of campaign groups, including those who are actively opposing fracking, fox-hunting, nuclear weapons and the arms trade, as well as and anti-fascists and climate change campaigners.
This is not a trivial issue: there are real and serious consequences for people categorised people in this way. A ‘domestic extremism’ label may result in intrusive levels of police surveillance and may restrict employment, travel, and other aspects of day-to-day life. It also risks curtailing the right of assembly and expression more widely, by ‘chilling’ participation in public protest and campaigns. Over the next six months, Netpol is campaigning on several fronts, including a call on our elected representatives to act to protect the rights of campaigners and protesters, by stopping the police from categorising us all as domestic extremists on little more than a whim. We need your help to put pressure on political parties and politicians and to gather more evidence of the miscategorisation of completely legitimate campaign activities as "domestic extremism".