Jack the Ripper museum Photo credit: Ros Connelly

Draped in chains of purple, white and green, local people blocked the road in protest outside the grotesque ‘Jack the Ripper Museum’ due to open on Cable Street on Tuesday evening

The protest in east London was called in response to the revelation last week that a proposed museum celebrating women of the east end would in fact be about Jack the Ripper.

There was plenty of press attention for photos of the creative costumes and placards brought by a mix of young and old, male and female members of the local community.

With cuts to arts funding and other vital services, local teacher Kiri Tunks asked ‘who benefits from this museum?’ It is not the local schoolchildren, students, and workers.

Speakers entertained the crowd with stories of local women fighting back and the rich history of women’s groups and campaigners. One example was women throwing every household object they could get their hands (including tools) out of the window at the police escorting fascists on Cable Street in 1936.

Jack the Ripper museum

The protest was called by Kate Connelly, historian and biographer of Sylvia Pankhurst, and Jemima Broadbridge, local resident. It was supported by Counterfire, Green Party, National Assembly of Women, Women’s Assembly Against Austerity, and community groups.

Sarah Jackson is aiming to launch a genuine women’s history museum in east London. She spoke to the crowd of the recent surge of support for a real museum to honour the women of East London.

Nia rounded off the protest by performing a short catalogue of songs on the doorstep of the museum, filled with feminist wit and critical assessments of cat calling, police brutality and everyday sexism.

The museum appeared to be closed, with workers still preparing foyer for opening. Visible from the outside was a small gift shop selling glasses and other homeware adorning the dubious silhouette of the Ripper. One t-shirt featured the phrase ‘Keep Calm – I’m a Ripperologist’.

This is an example of the joke the museum makes of the lives of these women, murdered by a man who has become a legend, that glorifies violence against women.

Other protests are scheduled to take part this week, uniting the call for the museum to be closed and replaced with the museum we wanted and funded with public money.

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