A vigil on Clapham Common

After waiting until darkness fell a gang of mostly male police officers attacked a group of women yesterday (March 13th 2021) who were holding a vigil on Clapham Common in London for Sarah Everard who was murdered a week earlier and the suspected murderer is a police officer in the same force. 

Police and their political supporters claimed their violent assault on the vigil was an attempt to enforce lockdown rules related to the Covid-19 pandemic.  That claim is baseless: Similar vigils in other cities in Britain were unmolested by police actions and a week earlier police in Scotland assisted a mass gathering of football supporters of Rangers FC following the club’s first ever league title win. 

The decision to enact an assault on the women was entirely political.  Home Secretary Priti Patel and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick are opposed to protests, pickets, demonstrations and rallies.  A succession of new laws by the Tories are eroding human rights to protest.  Brexit allowed the government to eschew previous obligations toward protests.  Even a vigil that was not political was an anathema to Patel and Dick.  They and senior police officers revelled in an opportunity to demonstrate power and control.

The violence was routine police violence.  Black Lives Matter protesters and Extinction Rebellion protesters received similar, and worse, violence last year.  In September last year Patel spoke at a police superintendents conference where she egged on such actions against Extinction Rebellion. 

Alongside the encouragement of violence the government seeks to criminalise all effective protest.  Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion have succeeded in raising awareness and in describing the connection with exploitative capitalism; consequently they are targetted for suppression.  The government hired disgraced former Labour MP and current peer John Woodcock to investigate both organisations. 

Even the majority of the right-wing defenders of state control cannot defend what police did on Clapham Common but they found a way to distract from it: They are focussing on their support for swifter relaxation of lockdown rules.  They are almost blaming lockdown restrictions for the police violence.  As said earlier, lockdown rules were not involved in the motivation for how the police behaved and to pivot quickly to a discussion of such is just a means of not criticising the violence. 

Metropolitan police officers took part in unprovoked, unnecessary, idiotic thuggery against women at a vigil against violence against women.  There are no mitigating circumstances, no caveats, no excuses and no justification for the police actions.  It was state violence against women because they refused to be ordered to not support a murdered woman.  No woolly contorted logic can diminish the nefariousness.

In the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source.” – Lucretia Mott

Statements on the police action

ClaphamStatement

Sisters uncut: “Tonight we attempted to have a peaceful vigil to mourn Sarah Everard and protest all forms of gendered violence. The police were violent towards us and prevented us from mourning.  So tomorrow [March 14th], we will gather at New Scotland Yard, 4pm. Join us.  The police abuse the powers they already have – and yet the government plans to give them even 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.  Tonight, thousands of women came to Clapham Common to grieve the death of a woman – allegedly murdered by a male police officer.  Tonight, Metropolitan police officers waited for the sun to set before they started grabbing and manhandling women in the crowd.”

A vigil on Clapham Common

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