Save the Cube of Truth in Hertford

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Anonymous for the Voiceless is an animal rights organisation, formed in Melbourne in April 2016. We expose to the public the animal exploitation that is intentionally hidden from them. Combining this with resource literature, and giving members of the public the opportunity to approach for a conversation if they wish, we fully equip the public with everything they need to switch to a vegan lifestyle, in a demonstration known as the Cube of Truth.

Despite operating successfully and with no issues in over 900 locations worldwide, and over 100 in the UK alone, Hertford town council has for some reason decided not to allow the Cube of Truth to operate in their town. Our entirely peaceful, education-based demonstrations have been shut down on two separate occasions in the past few months.

The first occasion was on Saturday 12th January 2019. We were around an hour into our demonstration, when we were approached by two police officers, who claimed that they were following up on a complaint they had received from a member of the public pertaining to the footage we were showing. We believe that this infringes upon both our right to peaceful assembly, which is covered under article 11 of the Human Rights Act, and our right to freedom of expression, which is covered under article 10 of the same act. We have several reasons to believe this:

• The police officers on the day quoted Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 as the reason for shutting down the demonstration. In order to enforce this, the material on display must have been seen to be “threatening/abusive, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby”. Since the demonstration, and the material involved, is not intended to target any specific individual or business, and is simply there for educational purposes, we do not believe that it can be considered ‘threatening’ nor ‘abusive’. Furthermore, it is not enough for somebody to simply say that they are shocked or offended by the footage on display, as legitimate protest can be offensive at least to some, and Article 10 cannot simply protect those holding the majority view.
• The police officers stated that they were intervening after receiving just a single complaint. Up until this point, we had received nothing but positive feedback from the hundreds of people passing our demonstration, having had many positive, productive conversations about veganism. The idea that the complaints of one individual can overrule all the other members of the public who had no issue with our demonstration is, we feel, unbecoming of the democratic society that we supposedly live in. We also cannot rule out the possibility that the individual who complained has a vested interest in the industries we are seeking to educate the public on – e.g. he/she may be the owner of a local butcher shop. Whilst, as previously stated, we were not there to target any individual person or business, those working for such businesses may object to our demonstration – which of course, they have the right to do, but those are not sufficient grounds to shut down the demonstration.
• We only engage in conversation with members of the public who approach us/stop to watch for a significant amount of time. Anyone is free to simply walk away at any point; nobody is forced to watch the videos on display.
• We have guidelines in place for when an unaccompanied child is in the vicinity – we will ask them if they have a parent or guardian nearby, and will check that they would be okay with them watching the footage.
• The videos on display show legal, industry-approved practices. If there is such an issue with us showing the footage, then that begs the question as to why it is legal to carry out such practices in the first place.

The second occasion where our demonstration was shut down was on Saturday 23rd February. This time it was a market inspector who approached us shortly after we began our demonstration, and on this occasion they were not following up on any complaints from members of the public – it was simply our presence there, and the showing of the footage, that was the issue. This was despite us informing the town council that we would be there prior to the demonstration.

The purpose of this petition is to urge Hertford Town Council to allow the Cube of Truth to operate in Hertford. Since, as previously stated, this demonstration regularly takes place with no issues in over a hundred locations all over the UK – everywhere from central London, to other small market towns such as Rayleigh, Essex, we see no reason why we shouldn’t also be allowed to operate in Hertford. As part of a democratic society, the interests of freedom of expression should be prioritised (within reason) regardless of who is offended, shocked or disturbed.