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Activism

Sisters Uncut set off 1,000 rape alarms during a protest at Charing Cross police station

Hundreds of people turned out for the feminist action group’s protest on the first anniversary of the Sarah Everard vigil.

Members of feminist action group Sisters Uncut triggered 1,000 rape alarms at Charing Cross police station during a protest against the ongoing misogyny within the Met.

The protest on Saturday marked the first anniversary of the vigil for Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by serving Met officer Wayne Couzens. Police were slammed for their heavy-handed tactics at the vigil having already tried – unlawfully – to cancel the event because it breached lockdown restrictions.

More than 200 people gathered for last weekend’s protest, which began outside New Scotland Yard before moving to Charing Cross.

Cassie Robinson, who also attended last year’s vigil, said: “The police’s behaviour was disgraceful…I participated in today’s protest because I am withdrawing my consent for violent men to have any authority in this society.” 

One of those arrested last year was feminist activist Patsy Stevenson, who made an appearance at the protest on Saturday. In a speech, Stevenson said, “This is something that needs to change, everyone needs to know what’s going on, this should be front page news everyday…These people are not being vetted properly.”

Activist groups have questioned how the police can assure their safety. Olga Smith, a member of Sisters Uncut, said: “When we found out about Sarah’s disappearance at the hands of a serving cop, we asked the police, how will you keep us safe? And the police said: Stay home. Stay hidden. Carry a rape alarm.”

One officer jovially put a pen in his ear for a humorous photo opportunity by another officer.

In a somewhat poetic response to this suggestion, 1,000 rape alarms were triggered and thrown onto the roof of Charing Cross station. The deafening sounds of the high frequency alarms caused police officers to hand out ear plugs to one another. One officer jovially put a pen in his ear for a humorous photo opportunity with a colleague.

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#PoliceCrackdownBill, one protester held the sign “women against rape.”

Since Couzens was jailed for life, an investigation by the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct) found officers at Charing Cross had been having sex on duty and sending racist and sexist Whatsapp messages. One said: “I would happily rape you,” and another message said: “Getting a woman in to bed is like spreading butter. It can be done with a bit of effort using a credit card, but it’s quicker and easier just to use a knife.”

One officer was known amongst colleagues as ‘McRapey Raperson‘. When officers on his team were asked to provide an explanation for this nickname, it was explained that there were rumours about him bringing a woman back to the police station to have sex with. A further officer clarified that he thought the nickname related to “harassing them [women], getting on them, do you know what I mean being like, just a dick.”

The police culture that nurtured such behaviour was criticised at the protest. One of the speakers said: “Which of their colleagues did anything? None of them. If even one of them stood up to that monster, maybe, just maybe Sarah Everard would still be here today.” 

Just 15 of the 1,000 rape alarms scattered around Charing Cross police station.

Between 2012-18, there were 1,500 accusations of sexual misconduct within the police system, with just 197 officers being sacked. 

Sisters Uncut advocates for cuts to police budgets and more funding to be invested into domestic and sexual abuse services, and calls for the public to “withdraw consent from policing”, referencing the tradition of ‘policing by consent’ in the UK. They believe “more police powers will lead to more police violence and a society without police would be much safer.”

The protest comes as parliament discusses the expansion of police powers with the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill, which could also have adverse effects on the right to protest. 

Nearing the end of the protest, Stevenson directed her speech to the police protecting the station and said: “I look at you guys up there, and I wonder if one of you has ever done anything, I wonder…and if you have, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

@thebigissue

Sisters Uncut Protest mark the one year anniversary of the Sarah Everard vigil which saw police officers mishandle women. #sistersuncut#sistersuncutlondon#protests#london#policeoftiktok

♬ Caution – Skrxlla
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