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:
Fuck the police. This is a disgrace.pic.twitter.com/rWimprBdFT
— Kerry-Anne Mendoza 🏳️🌈 (@TheMendozaWoman) March 13, 2021
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:
Are the police fuckIng stupid?
One of their own has been charged with an evil, horrific murder and they’re they’re now battling, kettling and confronting women.
— James Foster (@JamesEFoster) March 13, 2021
The woman pictured being arrested, above, is Patsy Stevenson. She was interviewed afterwards and her words capture the feeling of the moment:
We spoke to Patsy Stevenson who was pictured being brutally arrested in Clapham Common this evening. Outrageous and completely unwarranted attack on a peaceful protest by the police. #ReclaimTheseStreets #EndViolenceAgainstWomen pic.twitter.com/HcoanlVby1
— Counterfire (@counterfireorg) March 13, 2021
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.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:
Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.
1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.
2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical
3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/
Join the Vox Political Facebook page.
4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com
And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!
If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!
Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.
The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here: