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New Scotland Yard protest, March 14th 2021. Photo: Yonas Makoni

New Scotland Yard protest, March 14th 2021. Photo: Yonas Makoni

In an atmosphere of anger and resistance, protestors call for an end to police violence against women, reports Yonas Makoni

Protestors gathered outside New Scotland Yard at 4pm Sunday as part of a growing struggle against violence against women. Following police violence at the vigil of Sarah Everard in Clapham Common on Saturday, this has developed into a new wave of protests against male and police violence and state censorship.

Since a male police officer was arrested last week on suspicion of Everard’s murder, these protests have combined a general anger at the endemic violence and harassment towards women in society with outrage at the way police and other authority figures seem to be able to practise this violence with impunity. Saturday’s attack by a group of mostly male police on a crowd of mostly women, peacefully protesting and paying their respects at a vigil, only cemented this frustration.

So it did not come as a surprise that there was a general atmosphere of anger and hostility towards the police at the protest on Sunday. Chants of ‘No justice, no peace’, ‘fuck the police’ and ‘shame on you’ reverberated frequently through the crowd.

But with the introduction of a new bill that would severely curtail the right to protest and speculation that the Home Secretary had ordered the use of force on Saturday, the protestors also directed their rage at Priti Patel and Met Commissioner Cressida Dick.

Calls for Patel’s and Dick’s resignations and chants like ‘Kill the bill’ showed that these protests were not just about individual cases of violence, but about fighting a system that lives off violence and tries to break our capacity to act against it. Partly Sunday’s demonstration was about defending the right to protest itself.

However, despite this tense atmosphere, the protests were peaceful, with the police clearly having been informed to stay on their best behaviour and avoid confrontation, following media coverage of their attacks at the vigil.

Around 4.30, the crowd began to march to Parliament Square, where speeches were given and a minute’s silence held in remembrance of Sarah Everard and other women who have been murdered at the hands of the police.

Around 5.30, the demonstration came to an end, with the Sisters Uncut organisers announcing “this is just the beginning!” to a roaring crowd.

This is indeed just the beginning. The brutal scenes from the vigil on Saturday sent shockwaves through the nation. But collectively women are stronger than the police and any force that oppresses them. If they keep up this fight, they can prove it. The protests will continue at 5pm today on Parliament Square.

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