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Kill the Bill protest in Manchester, Photo: Lucy Nichols

Kill the Bill protest in Manchester, Photo: Lucy Nichols

The movement to stop the Tories’ clampdown on protest and to challenge violence against women continues in Manchester, reports Karen Buckley

Manchester saw a young, very lively, defiant and passionate protest in Manchester today. At least 2,000 people turned up at quite short notice, maybe more. The protest was organised by Sister’s Uncut and called ‘We Will Not Be Silenced - End State and Gendered Violence.’

The protest was a response to the attempted repression of last weekend’s vigils and protests in London over the murder of Sarah Everard. In addition, it was a protest against state violence and the Tories’ Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

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There were lots of chants and speeches throughout calling out violence and abuse to women across all groups from women generally to sex workers, refugee women, black and ethnic minority women, women killed in police custody and so on. But a huge amount of the anger was against state sanctioned police violence and against the Tories attempts to stifle protest. Chants of ‘Kill the Bill’ rose up time and time again throughout the crowd, along with a strong anti-Tory sentiment. 

There was a loud and lively march after speeches through the city centre, followed by music and further speeches. By the time I left, there was still a big queue of people wanting to speak and it seemed the protest was not going to end any time soon. 

The next step for protests like this, and their demands, should be to combine with a wider labour movement response.  Through this we can build a coherent, united movement which defends workers and the right to protest as well as fighting back for women and other oppressed sections of society.

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A woman (who appeared to be one of the organisers) said ‘we miss you Corbyn.’ I suspect the young people there are looking for the hope, optimism and better world Corbynism had offered them. Clearly, Keir Starmer and his lack of any meaningful opposition does not offer this. 

Movements such as the the People’s Assembly could do well to tap into the vacuum left by the Corbyn project and build upon the energy, passion and needs of these young people. 

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