Feminist direct action collective Sisters Uncut temporarily blocked Waterloo Bridge in Central London this Sunday in a protest against the removal of government funding for domestic violence support services.
Marching from Trafalgar Square to the southern end of Waterloo Bridge, the activists handed out flyers with the slogan: “You block our bridges. We block yours.”
The protest was organised by Sisters Uncut groups from north and south London, including the Hackney-based East End group.
Sisters Uncut East End activist Nadine Forde said: “The Autumn Statement is coming up on Wednesday. Theresa May has announced that she will allocate £20m to [domestic violence] services but what we’re saying is that that is not enough.”
The activists protested and chanted at Trafalgar Square for about 45 minutes before marching to Waterloo Bridge where they stopped oncoming traffic and staged a sit-in, blocking the whole bridge and chanting: “You cut, we bleed.”
Sisters Uncut said in a statement: “Theresa May’s £20m funding announcement is just another sticking plaster over a haemorrhage.” Forde added: “We want to make sure that everybody knows that Theresa May is not a sister of ours. She is against everything that we’re standing for.”
Sisters Uncut groups in Glasgow, Bristol and Newcastle also organised similar bridge-blocking marches on Saturday. Sisters Uncut groups also replaced adverts across the London Overground to emphasise their campaign ahead of budget announcements in the Autumn Statement this Wednesday.
Sisters Uncut rallying against domestic violence cuts in Central London. Video: Marie Segger.
As well as what they say is insufficient funding for mental health services, Sisters Uncut are protesting against organisations having to compete for money in the funding pot. Their flyers say that the government is “treating life-saving support like a prize to be won.”
Instead, they demand a strategic plan to support all domestic violence survivors. These survivors “need a bridge to safety” and according to the activists this bridge is taken away by the cuts in funding.
Forde said: “Black and brown people don’t go to mainstream services in general and migrant survivors can’t even if they wanted to. And we’re saying that that can’t be enough, if you’re going to create a hostile environment for immigration, you’re actually going to kill people with that.”
The group on Waterloo Bridge moved on when a police car arrived and other protesters were escorted by the police off the bridge before dispersing. No arrests were made.
The protesters began their rally in Charing Cross and made their way through Central London, eventually ending at Waterloo Bridge.
— Caroline Murphy (@_C_Murphy) 20 November 2016
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