Thursday, 10 September 2015

Letter to West Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner Mark BurnsWilliamson regarding Green Party "extremism"

Letter to Mark Burns Williamson,
West Yorkshire Police 
From: Cllr Andrew Cooper, Kirklees
Dear Mr Mark Burns-Williamson,
Re: Green Party “Extremists”
I am writing to you on behalf of Yorkshire and Humber Green Party and as a Kirklees Green Party Councillor to ask for an apology to Green Party members for remarks made by West Yorkshire Police staff equating the actions of peaceful Green Party protestors, such as Green MP Caroline Lucas, as examples of “Extremism”.
This occurred at a recent training event for teachers in Kirklees, as reported in theTimes Educational Supplement on the 4/9/15. 
You may recall that Caroline was found not guilty at her trial along with several other peaceful protestors.
Surely it is a right for people in the UK to peacefully protest, as Caroline Lucas MP did at Balcombe to oppose fracking? Would you agree with me that equating her actions to that of the supporters of Al Qa'ida or ISIS is wholly inappropriate? Given that there may well be protests against fracking in West Yorkshire, how are you going to ensure that the people who are trying to protect their communities from fracking are not put in the same category as people who support violent terrorist activities and are treated accordingly by West Yorkshire Police?
There is at the heart of this issue an interpretation of the ‘Prevent’ Strategy that seems to label all people who oppose Government policy as extremists. This is not the approach that we need if we are to have a healthy democracy. Don't you agree?
Of course we would like an apology from West Yorkshire Police, but we would also like to offer to meet to discuss how West Yorkshire Police can have a better understanding about the activities and motivations of Green Party activists and other peaceful protestors. I think this is essential to ensure protestors are understood by the Police and are treated respectfully.
Yours sincerely,

Councillor Andrew Cooper
Leader of the Green Group on Kirklees Council

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