Hundreds gathered on Forest Recreational Ground yesterday evening to express their concerns with the Policing Bill that is currently being proposed in Parliament, and to criticise male violence against women. After several weeks of heavy-handed policing at protests across the country, there were some concerns as to whether the demonstration would remain peaceful.
The protest organised by a coalition of organisers from groups such as Next Gen Movement and Extinction Rebellion, remained largely peaceful and saw an array of speakers sharing their experiences with police and male violence. The speakers included everyone from well-established leftists to young women who felt the need to share their experience with male violence and the resulting treatment from the police.
Nadia Whittome MP, who originally planned to attend the event, had a speech read out for her reiterating the fact that it might not be all men, but it is all women. This sentiment was held by all the speakers, with many recalling their experiences of feeling dismissed or even problematised by the police.
The policing of the event was light. Although it was clear there was a heavy police presence close by, they remained away from the crowd of protesters. This lack of police engagement with protesters contrasts with the recent clashes in London, Bristol, and Manchester. Despite this light-touch approach, the crowd remained well-controlled and peaceful.
domestic abuse has increased in lockdown
Despite this, the protest still highlighted issues with the conduct of Nottinghamshire police.
It has been widely reported that domestic abuse has increased in lockdown with calls to abuse helplines taking place every thirty seconds in the first seven weeks of lockdown. Nottinghamshire police’s own statistics however show a decrease in cases between April 2019 and April 2020, highlighting divisions on the scale of the issue.
This movement is one largely lead by women*
This all circles back to the new policing bill which gives police more powers and stricter punishment for property damage, whilst, at the same time, not increasing the sentences for crimes involving violence against women, such as sexual assault and rape.
This movement is one largely lead by women*; after seeing the recent failings of police in the handling of the Sarah Everard case and other cases, many feel that it is not the time to give the police more powers. Protests will continue as the bill continues its journey through the Commons.
Images courtesy of Alice Nott. No changes were made to these images
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