Sisters Uncut

Taking direct action for domestic violence services.

Aren’t Palestinians women too?

Thursday, November 2, 2023

The title of this piece is inspired by Sojourner Truth, and later bell hooks’, famous clapback: “Ain’t I a woman?”. Black feminists have always been asked to justify our tactics and sympathies to white women.

 

An article about us in the Jewish Chronicle asks: Why does a feminist group care about Gaza? What has bombs and genocide got to do with women and feminism? To our Black and migrant Sisters whose feminism has, by necessity, always been about more than domestic patriarchy, this is a familiar question. It translates roughly to: ‘why do you care about things beyond white Western women’s sympathies or concerns?’

 

This question sets up a false binary between two things conceived as being opposed to each other: justice for Palestinians on the one hand, and feminism on the other. This is an entirely disgusting and depraved juxtaposition, if you pay attention to conditions on the ground for women in Gaza. So in response we ask the Jewish Chronicle: aren’t Palestinians women too?

 

50,000 women in Gaza are pregnant. 5,500 are due to give birth in the next month.  The collapse of the Gazan healthcare system due to Israel’s genocidal actions, and the lack of medicine and medical supplies as a result, means women in Gaza are facing medieval-style childbirths. We already know caesarian sections are taking place without anaesthesia, on the floors of hospitals. Hospitals that could at any second be blasted by Israeli missiles.

 

Women who give birth over the coming days, weeks and months will likely have no homes to take their newborn children to, nor can mothers produce sufficient milk to keep them alive due to Israel’s starving of Gaza. Feminists have long fought to improve the quality of, and ensure universal access to, women’s healthcare: today in Gaza the act of bringing life into the world has become a potential death sentence – for mother and baby.

 

We know that in times of human catastrophe and crisis, barbarity and oppression, women experience the brunt of violence: both at an interpersonal and institutional level. We know that with war comes brutal, unflinching gendered violence. These universal facts – that come out of living in a patriarchal and violent world – don’t change when the women are Palestinian.

 

More broadly, we know that the mutually sustaining systems of apartheid, settler colonialism and occupation, that keep Palestinians cruelly oppressed, have devastating effects on the psyche of women, and is incompatible with women’s liberation. This is why Palestinian women’s rights organisations and activists have themselves long insisted that women’s struggle and the struggle for national liberation are inseparable.

 

We know divisions of labour exist in Palestine in similar ways they do in the West: when Palestinian men are caged in Israeli jails, or killed by Israeli guns it is women who pick up the additional work to raise Palestinian families. Traumatised Palestinian mothers, having to raise traumatised Palestinian children, in conditions of inhumane oppression.

 

This is a dynamic too many Black women in the West know well: it is almost always Black women who run the justice campaigns, and are the ballast that holds a family upright, when a Black man has been murdered by police, or locked up due to the systematic targeting of Black men and boys in Western criminal justice systems.

 

It’s important to peer through a feminist lens when looking at the ongoing genocide and 100 year oppression of Palestinians. However, with reports of sexualised torture being used to brutalise Palestinian men and boys by Israeli authorities, long before this moment; silenced narratives of the rape of Palestinian women during the Nakba; reports of sexualised violence being meted out on Israeli women by Hamas; as well as the Islamophobic and racist weaponisation of sexual violence that presents it as an Arab, as opposed to a global, problem* there are multiple, overlapping ways feminists must speak out.

 

Yet, the bottom line is a fundamentally human one. We believe in freedom for all Palestinians.

 

Quite rightly, no people would ever accept being murdered, humiliated, dispossessed, racially targeted, oppressed, cleansed, exiled – and colonised – without resisting. This means lasting peace will only ever be possible when Palestinians are free. Period.

 

Freedom means Palestinians having full human rights; to live, love and laugh as equal human beings in a democracy, for all the people on all the land, built on equal rights – not demographic majorities and racial supremacy. This requires political, not military, solutions and that begins with a ceasefire now!

 

We care about Gaza because we care about women. And we care about women because we care about humanity.

 

 

 

*We added this following generous and loving feedback from our Arab/Muslim comrades – thank you.

 

References:
1 – Gaza situation dire, UN says, as Israeli military admits security failures (BBC)
2 – Pregnant women in Gaza reportedly being forced to undergo C-section deliveries without anaesthesia (Al Jazeera)
3 – EU must go beyond urging a humanitarian pause and call for a ceasefire to protect Palestinian civilians, says ActionAid (ActionAid)
4 – Palestinian child says he was raped by Israeli interrogator (Electronic Intifada)
​​​5 – Sexual torture of Palestinian men by Israeli authorities (Reproductive Health Matters)
6 – Suppressed Nakba memories in Palestinian female narratives : Susan Abulhawa’s The Blue Between Sky and Water and Radwa Ashour’s The Woman from Tantoura (Ingenta Connect)
7 – https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-what-is-a-war-crime-and-did-hamas-commit-war-crimes-in-its-attack-on-israel

HUNDREDS OF PRO-PALESTINE ACTIVISTS SHUT DOWN LIVERPOOL STREET TO DEMAND CEASEFIRE ON THE EVE OF THE BOMBING OF JABALIA REFUGEE CAMP.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

HUNDREDS OF PRO-PALESTINE ACTIVISTS SHUT DOWN LIVERPOOL STREET TO DEMAND CEASEFIRE ON THE EVE OF THE BOMBING OF JABALIA REFUGEE CAMP.

 

  • Over 500 people took action to shut down Liverpool St station to amplify urgent demands for a ceasefire in Gaza 

 

 

  • Sisters Uncut claim it ‘is not business as usual’ and call for an end to Israeli genocide, a ceasefire and an end to the arms trade with Israel. 

 

 

  • The action follows a blockade of the Foreign Office this morning by Jewish group Na’amod, and a 300-strong blockade of Waterloo station on Saturday 
  • Many commuters joined in, with one even showing the Palestine flag on their phone.

 

LINK TO PHOTOS AND VIDEOS – CREDIT SISTERS UNCUT

EMAIL: [email protected]

At 17:30 on Tuesday 31st October, direct action group Sisters Uncut coordinated activists from across the Palestinian liberation movement to stage a sit-in during rush hour on Halloween at Liverpool Street station.

Demanding an immediate ceasefire to Israel’s UK-backed attacks on Gaza and an end to arms exports to Israel, speakers from Palestinian Youth Movement, Na’Amod, No More Exclusions, Sisters Uncut and International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network spoke to the gathered crowds, Palestinian music was played and chants were led. 

Chants included “Ceasefire now!” and “Stop bombing Gaza!”  

The protest follows the continued refusal of UK politicians to call for a ceasefire in Palestine and their continued support of Israel’s aggressions on Palestine. 

Following Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s calls for  ‘a time for war’ and Keir Starmer’s refusal to call for a ceasefire, the group calls for there to be a ceasefire now and for the UK to end its arms exports to Israel, in the same way apartheid South Africa was isolated. 

The group is also urging Keir Starmer and the UK Government to represent the demands of the 500,000+ people taking to the streets every weekend.

The groups pointed out that between 2016 – 2010 alone, Britain approved arms licences to Israel worth £387 million and most recently prime minister Rishi Sunak sent Royal Navy war ships and RAP planes to Israel. Britain has also allowed Israel to breach international law with impunity.  

The protest is taking place in Liverpool Street Station due to its connection to the City of London, notorious for funnelling arms trade money through it. Banks including Legal & General, HSBC and Barclays invest in the arms trade with Israel, and HSBC, Lloyds, RBS, Barclays and Standard Chartered all help provide loans to companies that arm Israel. 

Crossrail is currently advising the Israeli government on building a national transit service. Britain continues to profit from not standing up to this genocide.  

 

QUOTES:

Aditi Wilson said:

“It cannot be business as usual when businesses in the City fund and profit from the murders of Palestinians. The UK has a moral obligation to stop fuelling this war with weapons and with its public endorsement. The UK must speak in strong favour of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza, as well as an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel. Has everyone lost their minds? How is it possible that we are condoning such obvious war crimes and racist rhetoric from Netanyahu?”

Another protestor, named Eda Gencer said: 

“It’s clear to see the UK won’t challenge Israel as they are once again putting  profit over humanity. How anyone can see the pictures emerging from Gaza and not be calling an immediate ceasefire is beyond me! We are here today to tell the government, this is genocide and it must stop! They bombed Jabalia refugee camp just today! They are literally committing war crimes in front of us!”

“As Israel continues to bomb hospitals, like the Al-Ahli hospital, the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, Al-Quds hospital and with threats made against Al-Shifa Hospital, the UK government must stop endorsing war crimes and stand up to Israel. Until then there can be no business as usual.” 

Referencing the Kindertransport statue at Liverpool Street station, Jewish protester Miriam Eppenheim said: 

“In 1938 the British Government allowed 10,000 Jewish children to find refuge here, whilst abandoning their parents to murder at the hands of the Nazis. Today our Government has not only abandoned but enabled the murder of thousands of Palestinian children, together with their parents and families, at the hands of the Israeli war machine.The British Government has long been complicit in colonial violence, one example marked by the Balfour Declaration in 1917 – the anniversary is this Thursday!”.

 

Notes for Editors:

EMAIL: [email protected]

[1] As well as describing Palestinians as “human animals”, multiple senior Israeli military and political officials have been stating openly that “The emphasis is on damage, not accuracy,” that “Gaza will eventually turn into a city of tents,” and that “There will be no buildings.” 

Israeli Defence Minister: ‘We Are Fighting Human Animals’ | HuffPost UK Politics (huffingtonpost.co.uk) 

[2] Israel’s actions to stop fuel, electricity, food and water entering Gaza have deliberately created a dire humanitarian crisis of ‘unprecedented’ proportions, according to the United Nations. Charity Oxfam stated this week that Israel is using ‘starvation as a weapon of war’.

[3] UK arms exports to Israel include engines for drones, ammunition and light arms. Over 30 licences allowing unlimited delivery of equipment to Israel have been granted between 2016-2022, according to Campaign Against Arms Trade’s database.

PHOTOS: Sisters Uncut set off 1000 rape alarms outside Charing Cross police station

Saturday, March 12, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
6pm Saturday 12 March 2022

  • The action marks the anniversary of the infamous Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard, where police beat and arrested women
  • Patsy Stevenson, violently arrested by police at the vigil last year, gave a speech to crowds: “I was arrested on the floor for putting down a candle”
  • Since the murder of Sarah Everard by serving police officer Wayne Couzens, repeated reports of police sexual abuse have broken into the press

For interview and comment contact: [email protected] / 07436324082

@SistersUncut #BecomeUngovernable

At 6pm on Saturday 12 March, members of feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut set off 1000 rape alarms at Charing Cross police station, the centre of the Met’s misogyny controversy this year. On Twitter, the group said “One year ago today, the police waited until sunset to brutalise us at Clapham Common. Today, we waited until sunset to detonate 1000 rape alarms at Charing Cross station”.

The group were joined by Patsy Stevenson, who gave a brief speech before the alarms were detonated. She said: “I was arrested on the floor for putting down a candle”, and said “shame on you” to police officers present at the protest.

An IOPC report released in February investigated various allegations against officers at Charing Cross police station, including a police officer assaulting his partner, officers having sex while on duty, racist and sexist Whatsapp messages, including some sent within a police officer Whatsapp group that said ‘I would happily rape you’ and ‘if I was single I would happily chloroform you.’(4) 

The investigation is the latest in an outpouring of abuse reports within the Metropolitan Police since the Clapham Common vigil, most recently culminating in the resignation of Cressida Dick. 

The date of this action marks the one-year anniversary of the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard, which saw police officers ordered to violently manhandle women. The vigil kickstarted the Kill the Bill movement, which has seen thousands of people protest the introduction of expanded policing powers in the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.  

This week, two judges ruled that the Met Police breached the rights of the organisers of the planned vigil for Sarah Everard, who did not attend the vigil itself.

Sisters Uncut maintain that police violence against women is not new. At least 15 women have been killed by police officers since 2009. As reported in the Guardian, according to the Centre for Women’s Justice, one woman a week comes forward to report a serving police officer for domestic or sexual violence. 

The action calls for the public to “withdraw consent from policing”, in reference to the tradition of ‘policing by consent’ in the UK. Sisters Uncut say, given the repeated reports of misogyny embedded in the institution, there is no way for women to consent to police power. Sisters Uncut maintain that more police powers will lead to more police violence and a society without police would be much safer.

Sisters Uncut advocate for police budgets to be cut, and funding for domestic and sexual abuse services reinstated. 

Quotes

Sisters Uncut member Olga Smith said : ​​”When we found out about Sarah’s disappearance at the hands of a serving cop, we asked the police, how will you keep us safe? And the police said: stay home. Stay hidden. Carry a rape alarm. When we refused to hide away, when we gathered in grief and anger at Clapham Common to mourn our sister, Sarah Everard, the police brutalised us. Today we say: police are the perpetrators. Police don’t keep us safe. That is why have thrown our rape alarms back at the perpetrators in the infamous Charing Cross police station.”

Cassie Robinson, a 36 year old from London who attended the action said “I was there last year on Clapham Common, and the police’s behaviour was disgraceful.  I’ve completely lost faith in the police to take violence against women seriously, and I participated in today’s protest because I am withdrawing my consent for violent men to have any authority in this society.” 

For interview and comment contact: [email protected] / 07436324082

Notes for Editors:

  • Sisters Uncut are a direct action group protesting cuts to domestic and sexual violence services. The group was formed by domestic violence survivors and sector workers in 2014, and now has a network of groups across the country.
  • The Guardian reported that, according to the Bureau for investigative Journalism, 700+ reports of domestic abuse were made against police officers between April 2015 and April 2018 (1)
  • Between 2012-18, there were 1,500 accusations of sexual misconduct (including sexual harassment, exploitation of crime victims and child abuse) resulting in only 197 officers being sacked (2)
  • Between 2015-17, 415 referrals were made for officers that had abused their position to sexually assault someone, with domestic and sexual violence victims, sex workers and drug users being most at risk of being abused by an on-duty police officer (3)
  • The IOPIC (Independent Office for Police Conduct)’s Operation Hotton report can be read here (4). Coverage in the Independent here (5).

Images:

Video of alarms being set off:

IMG_0056

‘Police are the perpetrators’: Sisters Uncut set to take action one year on from Clapham Common vigil

Monday, March 7, 2022

  • Feminist action group that launched Kill the Bill movement mark one year since Clapham Common vigil, where women were brutalised by police officers 
  • Hundreds expected to gather at New Scotland Yard to withdraw consent from British policing

@SistersUncut #BecomeUngovernable

[email protected]

At 5pm on Saturday 12 March, feminist activist group Sisters Uncut will host a mass direct action at New Scotland Yard for the public to withdraw their consent from British policing. Details of the action will not be revealed until the day. 

The date marks the one-year anniversary of the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard, which saw police officers ordered to violently manhandle women. This event kickstarted the Kill the Bill movement. 

The year since the vigil has seen an outpouring of abuse reports within the Metropolitan Police, most recently culminating in the resignation of Cressida Dick. 

Sisters Uncut maintain that police violence against women is not new. At least 15 women have been killed by police officers since 2009. As reported in the Guardian, according to the Centre for Women’s Justice, one woman a week comes forward to report a serving police officer for domestic or sexual violence. 

The action calls for the public to “withdraw consent from policing”, in reference to the tradition of ‘policing by consent’ in the UK. 

Given the repeated reports of misogyny embedded in the institution, the group states that there is no way for women to consent to police power. Sisters Uncut maintain that more police powers will lead to more police violence and a society without police would be much safer.

Sisters Uncut advocate for police budgets to be cut, and funding for domestic and sexual abuse services reinstated. 

 

Quotes

Sisters Uncut member Gina Cane said: “The police are perpetrators of violence. We saw this in the way they beat women at Clapham Common last year, we saw it in the murder of Sarah Everard, and we’ve seen it in the countless reports of police sexual abuse. When the policing bill passes, we can expect to see more police powers lead to even more police violence. We reject the authority of the police, a racist misogynist institution built on coercion and control.” 

Cassie Robinson, a 36 year old from London who plans to attend the action said “policing by consent means the power of the police is dependent on public approval. I am withdrawing my consent for violent men to have any authority in this society.” 

 

Notes for Editors:

  • Sisters Uncut are a direct action group protesting cuts to domestic and sexual violence services. The group was formed by domestic violence survivors and sector workers in 2014, and now has a network of groups across the country.
  • The Guardian reported that, according to the Bureau for investigative Journalism, 700+ reports of domestic abuse were made against police officers between April 2015 and April 2018 (1)
  • Between 2012-18, there were 1,500 accusations of sexual misconduct (including sexual harassment, exploitation of crime victims and child abuse) resulting in only 197 officers being sacked (2)
  • Between 2015-17, 415 referrals were made for officers that had abused their position to sexually assault someone, with domestic and sexual violence victims, sex workers and drug users being most at risk of being abused by an on-duty police officer (3)

 

Police are the perpetrators: Sisters Uncut call mass national action against police

Friday, February 11, 2022

Feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut are calling a national demonstration for people to withdraw their consent from police power.

On Saturday 12 March, Sisters Uncut invite the public to gather outside Scotland Yard, headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, at 5pm. No further details are revealed at this stage.

The date marks the one-year anniversary of the Clapham Common vigil, led by Sisters Uncut, where women were beaten and arrested by Metropolitan police officers. The police violence triggered Sisters Uncut to launch the ‘Kill the Bill’ mass movement, which has mobilised thousands of members and the public and politicians to reject the proposed expansion of police powers in the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Sisters Uncut maintain that more police powers will lead to more police violence.

In the past year, there have been countless reports of serving police officers committing rape, sexual harassment and domestic abuse. As public trust has been severed, Sisters Uncut maintain that a society without police would be much safer.

A spokesperson from Sisters Uncut said:

“Cressida Dick is resigning but she is leaving behind an institution that is rotten to the core. The police are perpetrators of violence, whose power remains unchallenged and intact. The Met police who beat women at Clapham Common are still yet to be handed unprecedented powers through the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill. The issue has always been institutional, not individual.

“Policing by consent is a story this country likes to tell about itself. The reality is that policing is unaccountable, aggressive and violent. We withdraw our consent from policing, and encourage the wider public to as well.”

Justice for Jasmine: Sisters Uncut solidarity with Jasmine York, facing jail for Kill the Bill protest

Monday, January 31, 2022

Today we are picketing the trial of Jasmine York at Bristol Crown Court. We stand in unconditional solidarity with her. Jasmine was charged by police after she complained about her injuries.

Jasmine York was brutalised by police and badly bitten by police dogs at last year’s Bristol Kill the Bill demonstration. But today she’s the one on trial, facing up to 14 years in prison. Her case symbolises the very worst of police violence against women, and abuse of police powers.

Whilst attending the protest against increased police powers on 21 March 2021, Jasmine was badly beaten by police officers and bitten by a police dog. Photographs of her injuries have been widely circulated on social media, and received press attention in the Guardian at the time.

On 22 March 2021, Jasmine complained to the police about her injuries, who informed her that an investigation would be opened.

On 31 March 2021, Jasmine was informed by police that no investigation into her injuries would take place, and instead Jasmine was arrested and charged. It seems that the police used her complaint, and her comment in the Guardian, as an opportunity to avoid scrutiny for their actions and make an example of her.

On 31 January 2022, Jasmine faces trial for riot and arson in Bristol Crown Court, and could spend 14 years in prison.

We stand in unconditional solidarity with Jasmine. She could be any one of us. Police violence against women protestors like Jasmine is state-sanctioned violence against women. We launched the Kill the Bill movement last year in response to the police violence against women protestors at Clapham Common. It was evident then, as it is now, that police are drunk on the powers they already have, and Jasmine’s case is further proof that police cannot be trusted to have more. More police powers will lead to more violence against women.

The events surrounding the disappearance and murder of Sarah Everard ignited a movement against policing. Jasmine is part of that movement. This movement, to kill the police crime sentencing and courts bill, was ignited after Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a serving metropolitan police officer and after the police brutality meted out against mourners at Sarah’s vigil disgusted millions of horrified onlookers.

We attended the vigil for Sarah and everyone who faces gendered violence. We attended because the police told women to stay indoors when Sarah went missing, and when a vigil was called to stand up to this example of police sexism, the cops took every opportunity to intimidate the organisers into calling it off.  We attended because we would not obey police orders.

We attended on the principle of defending the right to protest, the right to freedom of assembly, and the right to hold the police to account when they rape and murder our sisters! When 1000 of us turned out to stand up to police intimidation, they lay their hands on us, they chased us, they forced us to the ground, they handcuffed us, and they carried us away into the dead of night on Clapham Common. This was just minutes away from where one of their own kidnapped Sarah Everard. The outcry over Sarah’s murder and the police brutality at the vigil in her name quickly pivoted towards the governments planned power grab the following week, which would give the police unprecedented powers to unleash violence against women, protestors and working class, Black and Gypsy Roma Traveller communities.

In the days after the vigil, Jasmine joined thousands across the country to protest the government’s plans to give the police any more powers through the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Jasmine joined them to stand up against police misogyny, police racism, police brutality, and police intimidation. When Jasmine came out on the streets, as is her right, she was beaten by police, and viciously attacked by police dogs. She went home with the evidence of police brutality across her body.

Jasmine has a protected right to protest, a right to assemble. In exercising that right, she made a complaint to the police about her injuries. In what seems like an attempt to avoid accountability and scrutiny, the police made a counter claim against Jasmine, accusing her of initiating the violence. This is an age-old tactic by the police. The cops cannot tolerate any challenge to their authority and have repeatedly shown that they will smear the reputation of those who seek to hold them for their violence and corruption.

The cops are so intolerant of any scrutiny, they will mete out violence against anyone who challenges them. Last week, we heard that Dr Koshka Duff was arrested for giving a 15-year-old boy a bust card while he was being stop and searched. She was pinned to the ground by police officecrs, strip-searched, subjected to misogynistic jokes and humiliation for exercising her right not to give her name. This can only be described as state sanctioned sexual assault.

The police sent police to infiltrate and spy on Doreen Lawrence’s justice campaign for her murdered baby boy Stephen. Spy cop tactics were used against a string of women in the climate justice movement such as Kate Wilson, who was targeted with state-sponsored rape to gain access to and dismantle a movement fighting against the destruction of our planet.

Since Sarah Everard’s murder, the media have finally shone a light on what some of us have known for years: that the police are an institutionally misogynistic gang that use their powers to beat, sexual assault and murder women both on and off duty. Thousands of reports of domestic and sexual violence by cops continue to go uninvestigated.

From 2015-17, 415 reports were made against officers who abused their position to commit sexual assault. And who do the cops target for sexual assault when they are on duty? Domestic and sexual violence victims, sex workers and drug users. Women they are banking on being unprotected, vulnerable and unlikely to be believed. What happened to Sarah Everard, to Doreen Lawrence, to Kate Wilson, to Koshka Duff, to Jasmine and the countless women subjected to violations and violence at the hands of cops show us that the police are the perpetrators.

The police have the monopoly on violence in our society, and the only way they can maintain that violence is through a culture of impunity. They know that if they are to maintain their authority, they must resist any criticism from outsiders.

If you give a class of people legal powers, handcuffs, tasers, spray, batons and even guns to carry out their legal powers and then ensure that they are only accountable to themselves, they are going to use those powers both within the law and outside of it, to hurt and oppress those most exploitered in our society. Because the job of the police is to side with and protect the powerful.

Police will repeatedly use their powers to ensure those most exploited stay in line, whether women, black and white working-class communities, Gypsy Roma and Travellers, migrants, queer, trans or disabled people. We are in the midst of an abolitionist movement based on solidarity between all those who face police oppression. Through deep community organizing such as community self-defense and CopWatch, we will resist every stop and search, every police assault, every police kidnapping, and we will make ourselves ungovernable to the police crime sentencing and courts bill and all police power. We will withdraw our consent.

If we have any hope of winning, we must also stand in active solidarity with all those facing police repression for holding cops to account. We are proud to stand in solidarity with our brave sister and comrade Jasmine. We demand that Jasmine is found not guilty of all charges and we make a promise here today: if they won’t give us justice than we won’t give them peace.

BREAKING: Tens of Thousands take to the streets for Mayday Kill the Bill protests

Saturday, May 1, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @sistersuncut

On Saturday 1 May, tens of thousands turned out to lively ‘Kill the Bill’ protests across the UK. The demonstrations are the latest in the public protests against the government’s police powers Bill.

In London an estimated 10,000 people attended, and events started at midday in Trafalgar Square, where gathering crowds watched as feminist campaign group Sisters Uncut drove up to the square in a red double decker bus playing grime music from speakers and shouting  ‘Kill the Bill!’.

Using portable speakers on the back of a pick-up truck in Trafalgar Square, a rally was held featuring speakers from Sisters Uncut, the youth empowerment organisation The 4FRONT Project, anti-school exclusions campaign group No More Exclusions, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Socialists, Women of Colour and Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM).

Shortly after, the crowd of thousands set off in the streets towards the Home Office, where speeches were given from atop the double decker bus, including students from Pimlico Academy who recently walked out of school in protest of racist school uniform policies. Activists expressed solidarity with Osime Brown, a young autistic Black man currently facing deportation to Jamaica.

The crowds marched over Vauxhall Bridge to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens to participate in several direct action workshops including how to intervene in police Stop and Searches, how to resist evictions and how to stop immigration raids.

This is the latest demonstration in the ‘Kill the Bill’ movement – a coalition of over 40 activist groups who have joined forces and taken to the streets since March to reject the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is due to resume its path through parliament in May.

The groups are committed to disrupting the Bill’s progress through parliament at every stage and have lifted up the Bill’s attack on racialised communities, the right to protest, and on civil liberties.

Groups in the Kill the Bill coalition include Sisters Uncut, Black Lives Matter UK, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Socialists, Disabled People Against Cuts, No More Exclusions, Women’s Strike Assembly and IWGB.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a 300-page piece of proposed law that seeks to increase police powers in terrifying ways. It will drastically impact the lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, give police expanded Stop and Search powers and criminalise the right to protest. Lawyers argue that this proposed legislation violates international law.

Quotes

Sara Parkes, a teacher who attended the protest said: “The resistance that’s building against this Bill is so inspiring, and there are people who are coming together to learn more about how it impacts all of us in different ways. As a teacher, my concern is the government proposals around ‘secure schools’, which are effectively youth prisons. We can’t let this pass into law.”

An anonymous member of Sisters Uncut said: “The police powers bill should be scrapped entirely. It is authoritarian in tone and in nature, and will lead to more abuse of police powers. It will take a mass movement to force it to be thrown out of parliament.

If this police powers bill becomes law, we will see even more police violence – against people who speak up against injustice, and specifically against Black, Muslim and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.”

 

BREAKING: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom”

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 16 MARCH 2021

BREAKING: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom” Thousands pledge to continue fighting proposed policing laws outside Parliament

  • At 18:00 on Tuesday 16 March, thousands gathered in Parliament Square for the fourth consecutive day of protests for Sarah Everard and against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
  • Sisters Uncut say “the police are drunk on power already: do not reward them with more”
  • In response to the news that the Bill has passed its second reading with 359-263 votes, protestors remained undeterred: “This is just the beginning.” 
  • The demonstration included a coalition of grassroots groups who spoke against the Bill, including domestic violence support centre Sistah Space, BLM, Women’s Strike Assembly, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Activists, Women Against Rape, Good Night Out, and more.

Email: [email protected]

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 the bill had its second reading in Parliament. The vote was called during the demonstration, and whilst it passed this reading 359-263, protestors 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.”

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.”

Earlier this morning, feminist activist group Sisters Uncut laid 194 bunches of flowers outside Parliament spelling out “Kill the Bill,” commemorating the 194 women killed by police and prison violence since 2010.

Speakers referenced police at Clapham Commons on Saturday who ignored sexual harassment of women protestors, 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 human rights campaign group Liberty said: “We are here today because government wants to pit us against one another, to criminalise our right to dissent, to challenge when we dare to stand up to power. They are voting against our right to protest, they are telling us that objection to oppression is worse than the oppression itself. But protest is a fundamental human right, not a gift that the state can take or give away as a gift at its pleasing. We demand the right to take to the streets. We demand the rights to organise together. We demand the right to be out at night. We are here, we are together, and we are not afraid.”

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.

A member of SOAS Detainee Support (SDS) added, “We know the state is the greatest source of violence. Policing as we know it today was born out of British colonialism, and the role of policing was to protect white men’s private property and to oppress and control black and brown people. This new Bill will disproportionately affect migrants, someone protesting at parliament square could be arrested and detained and deported, just for protesting. The police must not be handed more powers through this Bill… Policing is not the way out of the crisis, policing is the crisis.”

A speaker from Sisters Uncut concluded the protest saying, “As feminists we condemn the violations of consent, the use of forced restraint, the devastation of being separated from our loved ones and these violent experiences that are fundamental to the function of the criminal justice system. If the government is serious about ending violence against women, it will halt this bill.”

At the end of the protest, participants spilled into the streets, chanting “Kill the Bill.”

Quotes:

An anonymous member from Sisters Uncut said, “Every day, the movement against this Bill grows in number and in anger. We saw in the summer that many people, especially young people, are sick and tired of being on the sharp end of police repression. Now a broad coalition is coming together to fight this dangerous extension of police powers.”

— END —

 

Our Response to Boris’ Statement: No More Police Powers

Monday, March 15, 2021

Last night Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters that he was “deeply concerned” and “committed to reviewing” the violence that has recently been enacted onto women and gender non-conforming people at the hands of the police.

If Boris is serious about ending violence against women, he will halt the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. 

As the actions of police at peaceful vigils this weekend show, police abuse the powers that they already have – and yet the government plans to give them more powers in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The death of Sarah Everard must be seen in context of the structures of violence against women in this country, which include the police who brutally manhandled grieving women on Saturday, and the routine failures of the police to investigate rape cases as well as their own record of domestic abuse against women.

Under the Conservative Party, deaths from domestic violence have reached a 5-year high with 173 people killed in 2018 – up from 32 in 2017. 3 people a week are now killed by a partner, ex-partner or family memberSpending on domestic violence refuges has been cut by nearly a quarter (24%) since 2010. Only 1.4% of all reported sexual violence is prosecuted.

The police are institutionally violent against women. Handing them more powers will increase violence against women. ​​​​​​

The current ‘tough on crime’ approach does nothing to improve the lives of victims of violence, and it protects police officers from accountability. In 2019, a Bureau of Investigative Journalism report found that police are treated differently in abuse cases. For police, 3.9% in England and Wales ended in a conviction, compared with 6.2% among the general population.

Evidence from charity Women in Prison shows Black, Asian and minority ethnic women are more likely to be overpoliced, criminalised and receive disproportionately harsher treatment if this Bill passes.

The powers introduced by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will also empower police to decide where, when and how citizens are allowed to protest and have their voices heard by those in power. It will also increase penalties for those breaching police conditions on protests. The right to protest is essential for all people, and especially survivors of violence, to hold powerful institutions accountable.

This bill must be stopped.

Boris we don’t want your concern, we don’t want more reviews, and most importantly we don’t want any more laws. Too many people have already died at the hands of the police and the current government, and we need radical change.

STATS:

No More Police Powers: Press Releases from Protests of March 13-14th

Sunday, March 14, 2021

13 MARCH 2021

Police manhandle women at Clapham Common vigil

  • Thousands of people gathered at 6pm on Clapham Common to publicly mourn the death of Sarah Everard and protest police violence, despite organised protests by #ReclaimTheStreets being called off.

  • Feminist protest group Sisters Uncut who were in attendance said: “we will not be silenced, we will not ask for permission, we will not be told what to do by violent men”.

  • Half an hour into the event ,the police stormed the bandstand and began to antagonise women gathered. Police escalated to grabbing and manhandling women in the crowd, tearing down a banner.

  • Sisters Uncut tweeted: “Tonight, thousands of women came to Clapham Common to grieve the death of a woman killed by a male police officer after dark. Tonight, male police officers waited for the sun to set before they started grabbing and manhandling women in the crowd.”

  • Numerous arrests were made.

Email: [email protected]

This evening, thousands gathered on Clapham common to publicly mourn and honour Sarah Everard, in defiance of police orders against the vigil organised by #ReclaimTheStreets. The majority of the crowd were women.

Around 6pm, people laid hundreds of bouquets of flowers around the bandstand. Women in the crowd took it in turns to stand on the bandstand and deliver call-and-response speeches to the crowd, saying “the streets are ours and we deserve to be safe on the streets.”

Around 6.30pm, shortly after sunset, Metropolitan police stormed the bandstand and told members of the public to “go home”. By 7.30pm, police were grabbing and manhandling women in the crowd and ripped down a banner held by women.

After a stand-off, police left the park and the crowd began to disperse at 8.00pm. Numerous groups stayed in Clapham Common to quietly lay flowers and light candles.

National statistics show every 3 days, a woman is killed by a partner or ex-partner.

Sisters Uncut are protesting against routine and systemic violence perpetrated by the police. This includes members of the police who last summer took photos of the dead bodies of two Black women, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman and who routinely perpetrate domestic and sexual violence.

Despite increasing reports of sexual violence, currently only 1.4% of sexual violence cases are prosecuted, and since 2019 prosecutors have been being told to drop “weak cases”.

Recent research by the Prison Reform Trust found that survivors reported being repeatedly arrested by the police despite their partner being the primary aggressor.

With increasing cases of domestic violence across the country due to the ongoing pandemic and a criminal justice system that only increases violence, Sisters Uncut say that the right to publicly protest state and interpersonal violence is more important now than ever before.

A member of feminist group Sisters Uncut said:

“The police tell us that we will only be safe if we stay at home, and there are more police on our streets. But violent perpetrators are in our homes, and perpetrators are in the metropolitan police”

“We have come here today because of grief, and anger, at the senseless murder of of Sarah Everard, we have come here today, because after Sarah’s disappearance, the police told women to stay at home. This isn’t the first time. Almost 50 years ago, when another murderer, the Yorkshire Ripper, was attacking women, the police said that the only way for women to remain safe was to stay at home. Then and now, women say no.”

“We will not be curfewed. Time and again, the police have attempted to control us, the police have attempted to divide us, but we demand the right. Not only to survive, to thrive. And that means going where we want, when we want. We don’t care if you’re at night partying. We don’t care if you’re out at night drinking. We don’t care if you’re out at night seeing your friends. We don’t care if you’re out at night sex working. We don’t care if you’re gender non-conforming. No one deserves to die for being out at night.”

Notes for Editors:

IMG_4552.jpg

IMG_4547.jpg

14 MARCH 2021

Thousands of women defy police violence to hold vigil at New Scotland Yard

  • At 4pm on Sunday March 14th, the day after police manhandled women at a vigil for Sarah Everard at Clapham Common, thousands came to gather at New Scotland Yard to honour Sarah and to reject new police powers proposed by the government. 
  • In a statement online Sisters Uncut said:  “The police abuse the powers that they already have – and yet the government plans to give them more powers in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. This is dangerous. This will lead to even more state violence against women. This bill must be stopped.”
  • Speakers at the protest read the names of over 200 women who have died after contact with the police or in prison since 1980, laid flowers in mourning, and took a minute of silence to honor victims of gendered violence. 
  • Thousands of people, mostly young women, lay down in Parliament Square to symbolise the women killed by the state.

Email: sistersuncutmedia@gmail.com

Today, thousands gathered for a vigil at New Scotland Yard to publicly mourn Sarah Everard and all victims of state and gendered violence, and to reject the police violence against protestors demonstrated at yesterday’s vigil at Clapham Common. Over two thousand more joined a livestream of the vigil.

Shortly after 4pm outside New Scotland Yard, the police attempted to kettle protestors. After a minute’s silence for Sarah Everard, the crowds moved to Parliament Square.

In Parliament Square, some spontaneous and planned 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 protests 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.”

A woman spontaneously burst forward from the crowd, identifying herself as the best friend of Iuliana Todos, who was murdered in Finsbury Park on Christmas Eve in 2017. She described how the police had failed to investigate the case, and Iuliana’s friends had found her mutilated, naked body in the park three days later. The woman said “Her name was Iuliana Tudos, her case was not in the media, please remember her.”

Participants echoed calls for Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to resign in chants, following the graphic images circulating of mourners being brutalised by the police at Saturday’s vigil, and chanted “the police do not protect us” and “sisters united will never be defeated.”

As the public response shows, women across the UK see Sarah’s death in context of the structures of violence against women in this country. Speakers linked this violence that caused the death of Sarah Everard to the one year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s murder by the police in the US, to protests against femicide and violence against women in Mexico and across Latin America for International Women’s Day, and to global structures of gendered violence. One speaker said, “The violence against women in this country is the same as the violence we see causing thousands of femicides against women across Latin America. As we say in Spanish, the state does not take care of me – we take care of us.”

Participants highlighted the over 200 deaths of women, trans people, and gender-non-conforming people at the hands of the police. A speaker led a chant in mourning of these people, saying, “Rest in peace to Sarah Everard, to Breonna Taylor, to Shukri Abdi, to Black trans women who have been murdered, to all women, trans people, gender nonconforming people, and all those killed by police violence.”

Participants took a minute of silence and lay down in Parliament square. took a knee to honor these victims of police and state violence at the end of the event, and many attendees brought flowers in mourning.

Sunday’s event was attended by numerous groups including Sisters Uncut, BLMUK, Abolitionist Futures, All Black Lives UK, Women’s Strike Assembly, Campaign Against Prison Expansion, London Renters Union, and Jewish Solidarity Action.

The vigil dispersed peacefully at 5:30pm.

Quotes:

A speaker from Sisters Uncut said: “Three women a week are murdered in the UK. Gendered violence is not just a personal problem – it is structural. It happens in our homes, on the streets, at work. And the police, courts and state don’t protect us or keep us safe: they are part of the problem.”

“Yesterday, women came to grieve and were brutalised by the colleagues of the man who may have killed Sarah Everard. This has illustrated why police cannot be granted even more powers – because they already abuse the ones they have. And women – trans intersex and cis- pay the price.”

“More police on the streets means even more violence against women. The government are also using the funding of more police to justify 500 new prison places for women. This decision directly goes against all evidence bases that show we should be locking fewer women up. It’s specialist community services, public resources and support that keep our communities safe.”

Photos: