#KillTheBill Nottingham: What it was actually like at the protest

A socially distanced crowd of hundreds showed up in solidarity with anti-police brutality and women’s rights campaigners

In light of uprisings around the UK, Nottingham held its first #KillTheBill protest on Saturday, 27th March 2021 at Forest Field’s Recreation Ground.

The atmosphere was unlike anything I’d ever had the privilege of being a part of. Pots and pans were hammered together as anger rippled through members of the public listening to sexual assault survivors re-live their merciless trauma.  Roaring, cheering, and booing sounded in beat with the frustration that enough is enough. How many more of us girls have to jeopardize our safety just to make a point?

I arrived at the Rec at approximately 4.35 pm; already a crowd had assembled on the vast parkland. Socially distanced, bestowing masks on their person and completely complying, and respecting, that household groups should be stood separately. The atmosphere was welcoming, ardent, and outstandingly pertinent.

We found our spot, ensuring a two-meter separation from similar parties who were sporting plaques and signs of strong declaration and annoyance.

One student at Nottingham Trent University who also attended the protest reflected on her experience to me : “It was such a great turn out. Especially the fact that there was a good mix between students, local citizens, and members of the local area of all ages and backgrounds. It felt like I was part of something that everybody cared about. This is such an important issue that everybody should be learning about”.

The protest was pre-organized by Nottingham’s TUC and other supporters such as the Next Gen Movement, in support of decommissioning the Police Crime, Punishment and Sentencing Bill that passed in the Houses of Parliament at the beginning of March.

The bill, which received 359 ayes in its second reading at Westminster earlier in March, allows for ten-year imprisonment for defacing a statue in public, which is less than the statutory rape sentence at a maximum of eight years in prison for assaulting someone over the age of twelve years.

This is why people are angry; not at the police, but at the degree of leniency the police have, and how little protection there really is for women and vulnerable people. We are not campaigning to abolish the police, abolish the patriarchy, or anything to the extreme.

There is only one extreme that these protests are trying to achieve: combatting the utter abuse and oppression that women still face.

Throughout this approximately four-hour-long demonstration, party leaders, poets, and members of the public were invited to take to the microphone, sharing brutally honest, thought-provoking statements about oppression towards marginalized groups, specifically women.

You may be asking, why? Why women? Why are there still achievements left unmet between genders? Why are women receiving this amount of attention in the media? Well, it has recently been highlighted by UN Women UK that 97% of women, aged 18-24, have been sexually harassed.

Nadia Whitmore, Nottingham East’s Labour MP, wrote a speech that reiterated this shocking statistic, with an important emphasis that this is not pitting genders against each other. Believe me, we know it is not all men, but it still cannot take away from the fact that it is all women.

The MP further tweeted her support and thanks for how the event turned out:

‘The future ain’t too Priti’, ‘No to silence, end police violence’, and ‘Kill the Bill’ accompanied a myriad of opposing signs dancing in the sky above Forest Recreation Ground on Saturday. We chanted, cheered, and clapped together. It was incredible.

One moment which sticks with me prominently is when a Poet, a domestic and sexual abuse survivor and an all-around inspiring woman, took to the stage with vigour: “We know that it is not all men, but it is enough that all women are living in fear. Do you have to make it about yourself? Instead of listening to the centuries-old plight of women? Can you understand that you are diminishing the problem by making it about you?”

This is not supposed to be an angry ramble about men, I don’t think that is what any campaigner passionate about seeing change actually hopes to do. If you’re angry, you just look guilty.

We are not asking for you to make it all about you, we are not asking for you to feel victimised, we are certainly not asking for your opinion. We are just asking that you think a little bit more carefully the next time you see a woman in the street on her own, dancing drunkenly in a club or just genuinely going about her own daily business.

We don’t want an argument, we just want change.