Thousands attend Sisters Uncut and Reclaim The Fight protests against police violence

‘The police, courts and state don’t protect us or keep us safe: they are part of the problem’

On Sunday afternoon thousands of people attended a series of peaceful protests organised by Sisters Uncut and Reclaim the Fight.

The aim was to protest police violence as well as the new proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. This happened a day after the police force violently dispersed women attending a vigil for Sarah Everard at Clapham Common.

Calling people to attend in solidarity, Sisters Uncut posted “The police abuse the powers that they already have – and yet the government plans to give them more powers in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. This is dangerous. This will lead to even more state violence against women. This bill must be stopped.”

Falling within the same week as International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, the scale and urgency of the response by women – trans, intersex, cis – indicates that they do not feel safe. Rather, they fear the very institution which is supposed to protect them.

Thousands rallied to this call and, starting at 4pm yesterday, the crowd of protesters moved, first, from Scotland Yard, to Parliament Square, where the protestors lay down in tribute to the many women who have been killed by police officers, in prison and in custody.

What followed was an hour of speeches and testimonies, some planned, some spontaneous, and all received animatedly and echoed back by the crowd in solidarity. The MP for East Nottingham, Nadia Whittome stated “this bill will see the biggest assault on protest rights in recent history. If this bill passes, we won’t be able to gather outside Parliament Square anymore in mourning like we are today”.

Another woman broke from the crowd to give a harrowing testimony of the murder of her best friend, Iuliana Tudos, which the police had failed to investigate in 2017 – she implored the crowd “Her name was Iuliana Tudos, her case was not in the media, please remember her”. A stark reminder of all the cases of gendered violence that occur insidiously within the same echo-chamber that has amplified the most recent case of Sarah Everard. Beneath the statue of Millicent Garrett Fawcett – a prominent English politician, writer and feminist – people left candles, flowers and messages to commemorate Sarah and others they are grieving.

Another speaker from Sisters Uncut reminded the crowd of the prevalence of gendered violence, saying “three women a week are murdered in the UK. Gendered violence is not just a personal problem – it is structural. It happens in our homes, on the streets, at work. And the police, courts and state don’t protect us or keep us safe: they are part of the problem”.

As the protesters heard these speeches and rallied together, calls of “Kill the Bill”, “Sisters united will never be defeated” and “Our Streets” filled the air.

Just before 6pm the protestors calmly dispersed and many made their way to Trafalgar Square to join the Reclaim the Fight organised aspect of the protest. The organisers stated their aim was to “protest the archaic, patriarchal institutions that do not protect us” and that “We will be seen. We will be heard. We will reclaim the fight”. Standing proud on the fountains of Trafalgar Square with  posters demanding justice for women, they made a powerful statement.

After the most part of an hour’s chanting, the protest moved back down through Embankment, past 10 Downing Street, to Scotland Yard before rounding back to Parliament Square. People on buses on the road waved and showed their support and the atmosphere was animated with a collective desire for change.

As the protest drew to a close thousands held their phone torches in the air, waved their posters and continued to chant, demanding justice in Parliament Square.  At the protest’s conclusion, there was a wonderful final rally of calls for protection for all women. A few protestors ascended the statue of Millicent Garret Fawcett and led cries of “Protect trans women”, “Protect disabled women”, “Protect intersex women”, “Protect Asian women”, “Protect Black women”, “Protect ALL women”. A fitting, poignant and entirely necessary dose of intersectionality to end the display of solidarity that women, and men, from across London came together to show yesterday.

Everyone interviewed by The Tab emphasised: This is not the end. This is only the beginning.

If you want to stay up to date with the movements happening around you and get involved – follow @sistersuncut, @reclaimthefight and @reclaimthesestreets on Instagram. The Tab will continue with protest coverage, for live updates follow us @thelondontab on Instagram.

Related articles recommended by this writer:

 The police violence at Reclaim These Streets was an insult to women everywhere

• Violence used at Sarah Everard vigil to disperse peaceful attendees

Here’s why #NotAllMen deliberately misunderstands what women are saying