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