100 Years On What Would The Suffragettes Say...

Georgie J

The Image above was taken at the now notorious 1910 Black Friday protest (which started on 19th and was resurrected on the 22nd and 23rd). These protests are the stuff of legends and are regarded as a real turning point for the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).

The public outcry from the treatment of women by The Police led to evidence being gathered by and from eyewitnesses and written up as a report, The Treatment of the Women's Deputations by the Metropolitan Police

Conciliation Committee for Woman Suffrage.; Jessie Murray; Henry Noel Brailsford 1873-1958.London : Woman's Press 1911.


NB the first page of the original Memorandum. As something of an aside, ...we are very proud to say that we hold a copy of this memorandum in our Deeds Not Words Archive and we have decided to feature it as our item of the month.


The report was submitted to the Parliamentary Conciliation Committee for Woman Suffrage as evidence for an independent inquiry into the matter...sadly the treatment of the Suffragettes got worse before it got better when in 1918 some women eventually won the write to vote in Parliamentary elections. The rest about 50% would have to wait for another 10 years in 1928 when Universal suffrage was realised.


Read more about what happened at the Suffragette Protest at https://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/suffragettes-and-the-black-friday-protests-18-november-1910/


On the 13th March 2021 women in London and all over the country gathered in what were planned peaceful solidarity vigils to remember Sarah Everard and the many women who had been lost through male violence. The Police initially seemed to be fine respectfully, holding their lines back as hundreds of people streamed to the bandstand in Clapham Common carrying placards, letters, flowers and more.

Unfortunately the spectacle which unfolded in London took us back 111 years to 1910 as the reaction of Metropolitan Police Officers were televised and laid bare for all to see. As women stood in silence and grief holding signs such as that depicted above, 'killed by the system we're told protects', emotions seem to spill over on both sides and the relations between the police and the women deteriorated into ways that seemed inconceivable, given the fact that Sarah had been murdered by a serving Police Officer...no restraint or common sense seemed to prevail among the officers and women were seen being pushed back, dragged to the ground and handcuffed...


On the same note I must say that Derby was not without its own Vigil...two activists who shall remain nameless, went out into the Spot and chalked, messages of solidarity and support, lit candles and left flowers...Derbyshire Constabulary did come out to 'move them on' after about an hour...but in Derby's case it was done in the best way possible...two Women Police Officers taking a very laid back, sensitive, respectful approach. The activists having held the vigil for the appointed hour, were allowed to leave peacefully.








Read more at:https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/mar/13/as-the-sun-set-they-came-in-solidarity-and-to-pay-tribute-to-sarah-everard


A glimmer of hope lay in the High Court which ruled in favour of the women...


https://news.sky.com/story/sarah-everard-metropolitan-police-breached-vigil-organisers-rights-high-court-judges-rule-12563200

Moment of hope slightly bashed...we now have to await the outcome of the Police Crime and Sentencing and Courts Bill which, among other things, threatens to take away or in one way or another, the right to protest...watch this space!

Read More: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-factsheets/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-protest-powers-factsheet