Rage against the sexist system returned to the streets on Sunday as around 4,000 people protested in central London.
The protest was called by Sisters Uncut after the Metropolitan Police broke up a vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common the previous night. Angry crowds gathered outside the Metropolitan Police’s headquarters, New Scotland Yard, to protest against the cops’ behaviour and the Tories’ draconian policing bill.
The police assault at Clapham Common has hardened the mood even more against the way society is structured against women. Just like the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement last summer, a single appalling example of repression has become a symbol of daily experience and societal inequality.
Protester Heidi told Socialist Worker, “Violence against women comes from the top of the system and the violence of the police and the state are felt in every part of our society.
“People talk about women having a ‘right to safety’. But part of my right to safety should be my right to protest and oppose the system without the threat of being brutalised by the police.”
Anger toward the police ran through the protest, with people booing cops who dared walk through the crowds. When one officer told a protester that protests are banned—no matter how noble the cause, people angrily replied, “We don’t need your permission.”
People chanted, “Sisters, united, will never be defeated,” and, “Whose streets—our streets.” They marched towards Parliament Square, then joined another protest in Trafalgar Square.
The revolt from below has caused a crisis at the top of society. Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick is under intense pressure to go and the Tories are fearful of defending the assault at Clapham.
“I don’t think anybody who was not in the operation can actually pass a detailed comment on the rightness and wrongness of it,” Dick told Sky News.
Millions who watched the footage are furiously rejecting that arrogance.
Protester Zumi told Socialist Worker that, while she was shocked by the police actions at Clapham Common, she wasn’t surprised. “As someone who is black and a woman it is clear to me that the police will never be our friends,” she said.
“Their whole institution is built on violence to keep us in our place.
“I’m worried that the police will become more aggressive the more we oppose them.”
Zumi added, “I take Covid-19 seriously, we all should. But do you know what is also important—my safety on the streets. Coronavirus has meant that more women have faced domestic violence.
“We need to continue to protest against women’s oppression and we need to do it now.”
Anger was also directed towards the protest-smashing Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
The Tories want to rush a key stage through parliament this week.
Fahiima told Socialist Worker that she was disgusted by Tory home secretary Priti Patel’s proposals. “This new bill being passed through is so scary,” she said. “People need to be able to protest or how are we meant to make any change?”
The Labour Party has been pushed to change its position on the new bill that goes to parliament on Monday. It will now oppose it.
That’s the result of pressure on the streets, not internal party manoeuvres.
This is a moment when the normal dire agenda of politics is torn up by the actions of ordinary people.
Activists have called another protest on Monday for 5pm in Parliament Square.
It’s crucial to stay on the streets and keep raging against the sexist system and the cops that protect it.
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