Personal safety alarms blare at women’s protest against Met Police

Hundreds of protesters have filled the streets of Westminster with the deafening shriek of rape alarms as part of a demonstration against the Metropolitan Police.

Feminist campaign group Sisters Uncut led the protests. Activists blocked traffic, released bright blue smoke flares, and chanted “our streets” as they marched from Scotland Yard to Charing Cross police station in central London.

The march marked just over a year since serving officer Wayne Couzens abducted Sarah Everard. And protesters told the PA news agency that they were demanding “radical change” from a “rotten to the core” Met.

Sisters Uncut protest
Protesters from feminist action group Sisters Uncut march from Scotland Yard to Charing Cross police station in central London (James Manning/PA)

Sisters Uncut said 1,000 rape alarms were activated at the police station, following emotional speeches from protesters.

Read on...

‘Radical change’

Patsy Stevenson, who was arrested at an impromptu vigil for Everard last year, called for home secretary Priti Patel to resign. Stevenson spoke to the crowd at Charing Cross police station as dozens of officers watched on. She told PA she’s calling for “radical change from the whole of the policing system”.

When asked how the Met can restore public trust, she said:

First thing is accountability, holding your hands up and admitting you’ve done something wrong.

Secondly they need to understand there needs to be radical change from the whole of the policing system.

At the moment we don’t even need police, and that’s not how it should be.

Sisters Uncut protest
People attend the protest organised by Sisters Uncut (James Manning/PA)

When asked whether she thought new leadership following Met’s commissioner Cressida Dick’s resignation would amount to change, Stevenson said:

Just because she’s out doesn’t mean anything is going to change.

Wiping away tears as she spoke to the crowd, Stevenson said Patel should resign next. She said:

Cressida Dick – thank god she resigned.

Priti Patel is next by the way, let’s not forget who’s in charge.

That vigil was a vigil for Sarah Everard, and so many women are murdered at the hands of men.

How dare they tell us to stay indoors.

Patsy Stevenson has called for Home Secretary Priti Patel to resign at a feminist protest led by Sisters Uncut in Westminster (Laura Parnaby/PA).
Patsy Stevenson has called for Home Secretary Priti Patel to resign (Laura Parnaby/PA)
Police Bill

Protester Marvina Newton described the police as “a corrupt system that’s rotten to the core”.

“The bigger system is broken,” she told PA. She added:

We want to kill the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill, we want to make sure that our children’s children should be able to have the democratic right to fight an oppressive power.

Marvina Newton at the Sisters Uncut protest (Laura Parnaby/PA)
Marvina Newton at the Sisters Uncut protest (Laura Parnaby/PA)

If passed, the bill would give police greater powers to control protests. They would be able to impose start and finishing times, set limits on noise, and fine protesters who break rules up to £2.5k.

Educate men, not women

Revisiting advice given following Everard’s murder, activist Jill Mountford said women “should never, ever be told again that the answer is to carry a rape alarm”.

Mountford is a community worker from Lewisham, south-east London. She told PA:

First of all, they (the government) need to stop the cuts that are happening to local authorities…

We should never, ever be told again that the answer is to carry a rape alarm or to stay indoors.

The answer doesn’t lie with us, it lies with men in society, it lies with the Government and the cops and the police particularly.

Jill Mountford, 61, at a Sisters Uncut protest on Saturday (Laura Parnaby/PA)
Jill Mountford at the protest (Laura Parnaby/PA)

Breach of protesters’ rights

Saturday’s protest also comes one day after High Court judges found the Met had breached the rights of organisers of the vigil for Everard. The court said the Met failed “to perform its legal duty” to consider whether they had a “reasonable excuse” for holding the gathering amid coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions.

Sisters Uncut protest

The Sisters Uncut protest began with a blockage on Victoria Embankment road outside Scotland Yard (James Manning/PA)

Reclaim These Streets held the vigil for Everard near to where she went missing in Clapham, south London, in March 2021.

The Met has been contacted for comment.

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