BREAKING: Sisters Uncut declare victory at halting police powers bill in Parliament
Thursday, March 18, 2021
- Feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut declare victory as controversial police powers bill is delayed in Parliament.
- Sisters Uncut have organised five consecutive days of action since Saturday 13 March, where women were brutalised by police at a Sarah Everard vigil.
- Sisters Uncut say the police are drunk on power and should not be granted more.
- Since Saturday 13 March, thousands have joined Sisters Uncut outside Parliament Square and New Scotland Yard. A coalition of grassroots groups have mobilised together to speak out against the Bill.
- In response to the breaking news that the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has been delayed until April, the group are defiant: “This is the power of protest, and this is just the beginning. We are ready to fight the police powers bill at every stage of parliament”
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At 21:30 on Thursday 18 March, feminist direct action group celebrated victory against the government’s police powers bill.
Sisters Uncut have held five consecutive days of organised protest against the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill, which was sparked by the police violence against women at a Sarah Everard vigil on Clapham Common on Saturday 13 March.
The week so far:
At 18:00 on Saturday 13 March, Sisters Uncut joined thousands of people on Clapham Common at a Sarah Everard vigil. After flowers were laid and the sun went down, Metropolitan police stormed the bandstand where women were standing and told members of the public to “go home”. By 7.30pm, police were trampling flowers and grabbing, manhandling and arresting women in the crowd.
At 16:00 on Sunday 14 March, Sisters Uncut declared a second vigil outside Scotland Yard in direct response to the police violence. A minute’s silence was held for Sarah Everard, before the crowd moved to Parliament Square, where thousands of people lay down on the ground in protest at the state’s violence against women and gender non-conforming people. Speeches were made, featuring MP for East Nottingham Nadia Whittome who emphasized that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will expand police powers and diminish the right to protest. She said, “This bill will see the biggest assault on protest rights in recent history. If this bill passes, we won’t be able to gather outside Parliament Square anymore in mourning like we are today.”
At 17:00 on Monday 15 March, after two consecutive days of vigils honouring Sarah Everard and rejecting gendered violence and police violence, thousands gathered for a third day of protest at Parliament Square. Protesters were joined by multiple Members of Parliament and trade unionists. Between speeches, the crowd took a minute of silence to remember Sarah Everard and all victims of police, state, and gendered violence.
At 09:00am on Tuesday 16 March 2021, on the second day of the government’s reading of the draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, feminist group Sisters Uncut laid flowers outside parliament spelling out the words “kill the bill” in a bid for the government to scrap the legislation.
At 18:00 on Tuesday 16 March, thousands gathered at Parliament Square for the fourth consecutive day of protests for Sarah Everard and against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill moving through Parliament. Speakers at the protest called the Bill an “assault on freedom” and implored Members of Parliament inside to “kill the bill.”
This demonstration happened at the same time as the bill had its second reading in Parliament. The vote was called during the demonstration, and whilst it passed this reading 359–263, protesters pledged to continue fighting, chanting a popular refrain from Assata Shakur, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom – it is our duty to win.”
Speakers referenced police at Clapham Commons on Saturday who ignored sexual harassment of women protesters, spoke about the dehumanising photos taken by police of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry after their deaths, and invoked the names of Black people who died at the hands of police. Members of Sistah Space, a Black-led domestic violence support centre, said, “This is for Sarah, for Sandra Bland, for Breonna Taylor, for Nicole and Bibaa. If you see a Black woman arrested, get involved.”
A speaker from Sisters Uncut announced the reading vote, saying, “This is just the beginning. We will fight in our thousands at every stage, and we’re just getting started. Join us. We will not be silenced.”
At 19:00 on Thursday 18 March, Sisters Uncut held an online meeting with over 4,000 attendees. Speakers included the Public Interest Law Centre, Black Lives Matter, Traveller Pride, No More Exclusions, Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) and Disability Justice.
Evidence shows that giving the police more power, as is proposed in the Police, Crime, Senencing and Courts Bill, will lead to an increase in the number of survivors being arrested, especially black and minority ethnic and poorer survivors. It will give police more power to digitally stripsearch survivors of gendered violence who report to the police. It will give police more powers to enact sweeping new stop and search powers, to increase surveillance and to criminalise Gypsy and Traveller communities. And most importantly it will give police more power to to decide where, when and how citizens are allowed to protest institutional systemic violence.
An anonymous member from Sisters Uncut said, “The last week has shown that protest works. That’s why they want to ban it, and that’s why we’re fighting back. The coalition that is coming together shows just how many people are angry about the brutal reality of policing in this country, and who are determined to roll back this dangerous extension of state power. Saturday night has shown us that the police are drunk on power, and should not be rewarded with more.”
“Policing by consent is a story this country likes to tell about itself. The reality is that policing is unaccountable, aggressive and violent. Targets of police repression – working class people, racial minorities, sex workers and many others – have had enough.”
Notes for Editors:
- Sisters Uncut are a direct action group protesting cuts to domestic violence services. The group was formed by domestic violence survivors and sector workers in 2014 to defend domestic violence services from austerity cuts, and has blossomed into a mass movement across the UK, with groups in Doncaster, London, Newcastle, Bristol, Portsmouth and Birmingham.
- Sisters Uncut is formed of non-binary people and women renowned for bold protest tactics, including jumping on the red carpet at the ‘Suffragette’ premiere and dying the Trafalgar Square fountains red.