Police kettle women for trying to ‘reclaim’ the streets after policeman arrest for woman’s kidnap and murder

Kettled: hundreds of people – mostly women – were kettled on Clapham Common by police – mostly men.

Could there be a more strident declaration that the UK is backsliding culturally?

After a police officer was arrested and charged for kidnapping and murdering a woman, a vigil was organised on Clapham Common in memory of the deceased and as a mark of defiance against those who would put women in fear for their lives while just walking down the street.

In response, Metropolitan police officers kettled participants – boxing them in so they could not move freely – and then arrested them. Here’s how they carried out the second part of this operation:


The message is clear: in Tory Britain in the 21st century, women should feel afraid – all the time. The police will enforce it.

Possibly worst of all is the fact that the police acted this way not only after one of their number was arrested for the kidnap and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, but also under the orders of a female commissioner, Cressida Dick.

Dick’s tenure has been controversial from the start – often due to racist behaviour by her officers. This incident has renewed calls for her resignation, with accusations of sexism against people of her own gender.

As I understand it, police say they acted as they did in order to enforce Covid-19-related laws on social distancing. It is unclear how they can say kettling people is consistent with that claim.

My understanding, again, is that people gathered on Clapham Common in spite of the fact that a planned vigil had been cancelled due to difficulty in securing police co-operation. Organisers of the cancelled event, Reclaim These Streets, have released this statement:

Women across the country are deeply saddened and angered by the scenes of police officers physically manhandling women at a vigil against male violence*.

From the start, Reclaim These Streets set out to work closely with the Met to ensure this vigil could go ahead safely, so women could stand together peacefully and safely to remember Sarah Everard and all the women lost to male violence.

The Metropolitan Police failed to work with us despite the High Court ruling yesterday that a vigil could potentially go ahead lawfully. In doing so, they created a risky and unsafe situation. It is their responsibility to protect public order, public health and the right to protest – they failed tonight on all accounts.

All the time they spent fighting us on a legal claim that the Judge agreed should not have been necessary and was caused by the Metropolitan Police’s stance, they could have been working with us to ensure the vigil went ahead in a safe way. The Judge was clear and the Metropolitan Police conceded minutes before the hearing that there was no blanket ban on protest under the current law. They then had an opportunity – and a responsibility – to work with us safely and within the law.

This week, of all weeks, the police should have understood that women would need a place to mourn, reflect and show solidarity. Now is the time for the police and the government to recognise that the criminal justice system is failing women. Tonight it has failed women again, in the most destructive way.

Possibly the most chilling comment on these terrible events came from Boris Johnson, who said he would do “everything I can to make sure the streets are safe”.

He’ll probably impose an armed curfew.

Whatever he does, it will probably backfire because people are angry.

One commentator – aptly – described the situation: “Peaceful protest against violence against women is broken up by state violence against women.”

If that’s how people are seeing it, then in a country that is a seething cauldron of frustration due to Covid-19 restrictions, I fear that feelings are going to boil over and we could see some real confrontations.

And people are seeing it that way:

The woman pictured being arrested, above, is Patsy Stevenson. She was interviewed afterwards and her words capture the feeling of the moment:


Note that she said the next thing that should happen is another protest – and bigger.

With the authorities reacting not only inappropriately but violently – against the victims, I can only see this situation getting worse.

I hope I’m wrong but I know how the current government mistreats ordinary people. Tories will not understand that they cannot expect us to comply with what they say when what they do is harming us.

*Some readers may object to the characterisation of “male violence”. If you are one such person, my advice is simple: get over yourself. These events happened after a woman was attacked and killed by a man. The scenes on Clapham Common involved many men attacking many more women. And the worst of it is that all the men involved have police uniforms. Women have been left in fear for their lives not only because they don’t know whether the next man they see is going to attack them but also because they now know they cannot trust the police to protect them. Many men are saying that they have nothing to do with attacks on women and wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing, and that may be true. But that doesn’t mean that no men are responsible for such attacks. Perhaps, until a way is found to ensure that women can once again walk the UK’s streets in safety, all men should take responsibility and try to help, rather than whining that it’s nothing to do with them.

Source: Sarah Everard: Met criticised over Clapham vigil policing – BBC News

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No Comments

  1. SteveH March 14, 2021 at 1:08 am - Reply

    There is much worse to come

    Priti Patel’s new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021
    This is the work of a fascist state. I would like to describe it otherwise. I do not think that possible. When a state has the right to have someone imprisoned for being seriously annoying a line had been crossed. We will have crossed it if the Act becomes law, as no doubt and inevitably, it will.


    • Mike Sivier March 14, 2021 at 12:45 pm - Reply

      I know. I was already on this when you posted this comment!

      • SteveH March 14, 2021 at 1:50 pm - Reply

        Two great minds think alike

  2. Hecuba March 14, 2021 at 11:41 am - Reply

    Male police officers doing the fascist tory government’s work for them! So these brave male police officers were so terrified of a lone woman there had to be at least 6 male police officers violently assaulting this woman before they decided to arrest her!

    And the male police authorities believe we women should trust the male dominated and male controlled police??? Not likely – given these boys are violent male thugs!

    Who ordered these male police thugs to arrest women and kettle them???? Answer the order obviously came from the top and I doubt Cressida Dick decided by herself because a powerful male would be the one to order her to ‘kettle women!’

    We are indeed living in a fascist tory state and the fascist tories will soon issue new orders constraining our rights because no woman or man will be permitted to engage in any peaceful protest against the fascist tory government!

    Stupidity is now the byword for the fascist metropolitan police! They refused to engage with the women organisers and instead drew up their own plans which were to wait until dark and then the male police officers attacked peaceful women!

    • Mike Sivier March 14, 2021 at 12:45 pm - Reply

      Just a couple of points: the Metropolitan Police is run by a woman – Cressida Dick. And the “male” boss you mention, who would have ordered her to kettle women, is Priti Patel.

      • Julia March 14, 2021 at 5:22 pm - Reply

        Indeed! I think it is inconceivable that Priti Patel did not have prior input. It really does beggar belief that a peaceful protest against male violence should be handled in this manner by a female Home Secretary and female Police Commissioner – not to mention the fact that the issue had come to the fore because a young woman was murdered by, allegedly, a serving police officer.

        As someone who was a young woman living in the North at the time of the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’, it greatly angers and saddens me to see these current events 40+ years later.

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