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.
Statement from Sisters Uncut
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.
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.”