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Sisters Uncut occupy Royal Courts of Justice to protest police violence against women

Two Met Police officers today admitted to taking photos of the bodies of murdered sisters.

Sisters Uncut protesters outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Image: Greg Barradale

Sisters Uncut protesters outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Image: Greg Barradale

Protesters from feminist group Sisters Uncut occupied the Royal Courts of Justice in central London on Tuesday to voice their anger over “rampant” police violence against women.

Around 50 people marched to the High Court in Westminster, with tempers flaring slightly as a small group of activists were removed from the building.

Sisters Uncut delivered a “formal complaint” to police in protest over what they called “routine and systemic violence perpetrated by the police”.

Upon arriving at the building, a speaker announced that a group of activists had occupied courtrooms inside, and said: “We are taking back and holding the space to say enough is enough to complicit institutions, to systematically violent institutions.

“Our siblings inside are reading out our letter of complaint on behalf of all women.”

The letter, also handed out at the protest, said: “There is an epidemic of police violence against women in this country. Today we withdraw our consent to police power.”

As the protesters inside were escorted from the building, purple and green flares were let off, and one activist scaled the fence to get out after it had been locked.

The protest took place hours after two Met Police officers admitted sharing photographs of the bodies of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, who were murdered last year in North London.

PCs Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis left their duties manning a cordon to take the pictures, which they went on to share on WhatsApp. A judge told them it is “extremely likely” they would receive “custodial sentences of some length”.

Two Met Police officers have also recently been accused of rape. The trial of one officer, James Geoghehan, began last week in Essex, while a second officer, PC Adam Zaman, has been charged with rape and remanded in custody until an appearance in court later this month.

In September, Met police officer Wayne Couzens was given a whole-life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard in March 2021. Couzens’ trial heard how, although not on duty at the time, he had used his position as a serving police officer to tell Everard she had broken coronavirus restrictions, handcuff her and drive her to the site of her eventual murder.

Sisters Uncut outside the Royal Courts of Justice to protest police violence against women. Image: Greg Barradale
Sisters Uncut outside the Royal Courts of Justice to protest police violence against women. Image: Greg Barradale

The Metropolitan Police’s heavy-handed treatment of women at vigils for Everard in the days after her body was found, when Couzens was still being questioned, were heavily criticised at the time.

At least 15 women have been killed by police since 2009, according to the Guardian.

Sisters Uncut, who are part of the “Kill the Bill” movement opposing new anti-protest laws, previously protested outside the Old Bailey before the sentencing of Wayne Couzens, chanting: “We will not be silenced by police violence”.

One speaker, who said they had been campaigning since 1976, said: “People have been calling for a public inquiry – this is a women’s public inquiry”.

The action ended with the chant: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

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