Protesters at demo against ‘rotten’ Met activate rape alarms at police station
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.
Led by feminist campaign group Sisters Uncut, 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.
Revisiting advice given following Ms Everard’s murder, activist Jill Mountford, 61, said women “should never, ever be told again that the answer is to carry a rape alarm”, while Patsy Stevenson, who was arrested at an impromptu vigil for Ms Everard last year, called for Home Secretary Priti Patel to resign.
Ms Mountford, a community worker from Lewisham, south-east London, told PA: “First of all, they (the Government) need to stop the cuts that are happening to local authorities, to street safety, to women’s safety.
“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.”
Ms Stevenson spoke to the crowd at Charing Cross police station as dozens of officers watched on, and told PA she is 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 the resignation of the Met’s commissioner Dame Cressida Dick would amount to change, Ms Stevenson said: “Just because she’s out doesn’t mean anything is going to change.”
Wiping away tears as she spoke to the crowd, Ms Stevenson said Ms 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.
“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 by imposing start and finishing times, setting limits on noise, and fining protesters who break rules up to £2,500.
The Bill is opposed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats in its current form.
Saturday’s protest also comes one day after High Court judges found the Met had breached the rights of organisers of the vigil for Ms Everard by “failing to perform its legal duty” to consider whether they had a “reasonable excuse” for holding the gathering amid Covid-19 restrictions.
Reclaim These Streets held the vigil for Ms Everard near to where she went missing in Clapham, south London, in March last year.
The Met has been contacted for comment.
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