• Filippo Ceccanibbi

Is There A Threat To Democracy On The Horizon?

On the 15th of March, 2021, I attended a peaceful protest in Parliament Square, London. The protest was inspired by tensions caused after the kidnapping and murder of a British woman in South London, Sarah Everard.

The 33-year-old disappeared on the 3rd of March while walking back home after visiting a friend. Her body was found a week later in woodland near Ashford, Kent. As a result of Everard’s murder Wayne Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer was arrested for being a suspect in the case.

On the 13th of March, a vigil was held to remember Sarah Everard in Clapham Common, unfortunately, it led to tensions between participants and police resulting in four arrests for breaches of COVID-19 regulations.

The arrests made by police on that day, especially Patsy Stevenson’s, brought a lot of attention to the Reclaim These Streets movement to stop violence against women and sexual harassment.

During the protest on the 15th of March, MPs were discussing an anti-protest bill that would give police the power to impose severe restrictions on protests that result in serious disruption, unease or distress to an individual.

Mental Magazine sent photographer Filippo Ceccanibbi to photograph the protest.

A woman shows her sign ‘97% of women’ marching along Westminster Bridge. YouGov poll has revealed that 97% of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed virtually while the same survey found out that 81% have been harassed or abused in public. London, United Kingdom – 15th March 2021.

Protesters gathered in Parliament Square two days after tensions between the participants and police during Sarah Everard’s vigil in Clapham Common. London, United Kingdom – 15th March 2021.

A woman shows her sign in Parliament Square during Reclaim These Streets manifestation. The movement has been inspired after Sarah Everard’s kidnapping and murder in South London. London, United Kingdom – 15th March 2021.

Protesters in Parliament Square manifest against the anti-protest bill discussed by British politicians and Sarah Everard’s murder allegedly committed by Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens. London, United Kingdom – 15th March 2021.

A protest banner and flowers in Parliament Square to call for action in order to end violence against women and remember Sarah Everard and all other victims of femicide. London, United Kingdom – 15th March 2021.

A protester complaining about protesting the right of protesting in Parliament Square. The anti-protest bill discussed in Parliament passed a second hearing and could put an end to all peaceful protest that may cause disruptions or annoyance to other people.

A protester shows her sign ‘I am more than my p**sy’ raising awareness about male violence against women in Parliament Square, London. London, United Kingdom – 15th March 2021.

Protesters walk across Westminster Bridge, blocking the traffic and trying to be heard by politicians discussing anti-protest bill inside Parliament. London, United Kingdom – 15th March 2021.

Protesters laying on the streets in front of New Scotland Yard showing support for Sarah Everard allegedly kidnapped and brutally murdered by a Metropolitan Police officer. London, United Kingdom – 15th March 2021.

Young protesters in Parliament Square reclaim their right to walk alone at night in the streets without fearing sexual harassment or male violence. London, United Kingdom – 15th March 2021.

After Sarah Everard’s kidnapping and murder, the incidents that happened in Clapham Common during the vigil and the controversial opinions raised by the anti-protest bill created a very tense atmosphere. On the 16th of March (the day following the protest), the bill passed to a second hearing, and our right to protest risks being turned over. The new rules would allow police to stop every protest causing disruption to activities, unease or distress. Please sign the petition to stop these severe changes that will affect everyone.

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© 2020 by Mental Magazine