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Posted on 16 March 2021 at 13:18 GMT

At a vigil for Sarah Everard

At a vigil for Sarah Everard   (Click to enlarge)

Stop police brutality

Justice for victims of gender violence

There was understandable outrage at the appalling scenes of Metropolitan police brutality against women peacefully taking part in the vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common. Those present were already furious that the Met had refused to allow a socially distanced vigil to go ahead. That women protesting gender violence could then be physically grabbed, dragged, pinned to the floor and arrested by the police almost beggars belief. That a serving member of the Met, 'one of their own', had been arrested and charged with Sarah's murder only enraged people more.

Almost as sickening is the hypocritical response of establishment politicians. Home Secretary Priti Patel was apparently "upset" by the footage. The same Priti Patel who called Black Lives Matter protests "dreadful" and is planning yet further draconian curbs on the right to protest through the police, crime, courts and sentencing bill.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey has called for Met chief Cressida Dick's resignation. This is the leader of the same party that in coalition with the Tories was complicit in taking the axe to public services, decimating refuge and other support for women suffering from violence and abuse.

Sadiq Khan, Labour mayor of London is "urgently seeking an explanation": the same Sadiq Khan who is going along with Tory cuts to Transport for London that could seriously put at risk the safety of women travelling in the capital. And it's Khan who the Met reports to! Why didn't he speak out in support of the peaceful vigil going ahead in the first place?

Police and justice system

What happened at the bandstand on Clapham common will only further undermine the lack of confidence that women victims of violence already have in the police and the criminal justice system as a whole, which are seriously failing them.

Defend the right to protest

Defend the right to protest   (Click to enlarge)

Less than 20% of women who are raped report what happened to the police. Not surprising when only 1.5% of reported rapes end in conviction.

We remember the two sisters, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, stabbed to death in Wembley, London and the nauseating action of police officers taking selfies next to their dead bodies. Their mother said she had to initially organise a search herself for her daughters because of the Met's poor response.

And Amy-Leanne Stringfellow, whose throat was slit by her partner with a sword in June last year - one of 110 victims of abuse killed since lockdown began. Her killer had been let out on police bail after assaulting her a month previously.

"Who do you serve?", "Who do you protect?", were two of the chants at the vigil attacked by the police. This is the same question that was asked after the deaths of Mohamud Mohammed and Moyied Bashir in Wales, and after the arrest of a protester in Manchester demonstrating for a decent pay rise for NHS workers.

Establishment politicians of all stripes hide behind talk about the 'operational independence' of the police. But police chiefs have themselves spoken about the 'political pressure' they face in policing protests. Investigations into police violence, racism, sexism and anti-worker attacks; decisions about operational priorities, cannot be left to the police themselves or to capitalist politicians.

Socialist Party members in Hackney, London

Socialist Party members in Hackney, London   (Click to enlarge)

All of these state institutions both reflect and defend the capitalist profit system which is based on inequalities of power, wealth, gender and race. We need democratic community and trade union oversight of the police, as well as the criminal justice system.

But we also need to fight for an alternative socialist system in which power and control are taken out of the hands of the minority who currently wield it, and in which the economy and society are democratically controlled and organised by the majority.

We say:

Socialist Party national meeting: End violence against women

Fighting to end sexism - a socialist approach

Friday 19th March, 6pm - 7.30pm

Join on zoom. All welcome. Meeting ID: 858 8429 2264

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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