On Monday 23rd September, Woman’s Place UK held its 24th public meeting in two years: A Woman’s Place is at Conference. It was timed to coincide with the Labour Party’s annual conference and to publicise our manifesto which contains demands we believe would significantly improve the quality of women’s lives, as well as address the structural oppression and discrimination that we face.
Members of our local organising team liaised closely with the venue and made sure they were fully informed about our campaign, and that previous meetings had been protested.
We also liaised with the local police who assured us they had resources in place to manage any protest should it occur.
At 4.30pm, the original venue cancelled our meeting saying they could not guarantee the security of the building in light of the scale of the planned protest.
Fortunately, we had booked an alternative venue and were able to switch the details before the email with the location went out.
As the organisers arrived at the venue, they were met by a small group of protestors who took photos of them. The only way these protestors could have found the location of the venue is from someone who had purchased a ticket. They must have shared this information despite our clear statement that it is confidential to ticket holders.
The protest grew substantially in size until at least 100 people were outside the building. The security team we had hired was extremely efficient at ensuring the venue itself was secure but ticket holders had to brave a narrow corridor surrounded by aggressive protestors taking photos, shouting ‘SCUM! SCUM! SCUM!’, ‘TERF! TERF! TERF’ and ‘SHAME ON YOU’ in peoples’ faces.
Two women reported water being thrown at them. Others reported being touched or manhandled.
Amongst the audience were survivors of sexual and domestic violence and several women were in tears as they entered the building.
Sheets had to be pinned up at the door to stop protestors taking photos of women within the building.
Allegations that anyone associated with Woman’s Place UK was abusive or threw water from a balcony are entirely untrue and unsubstantiated. WPUK had no access to any other part of the building beyond the ground and basement floors.
Protestors then made their way round to the back of the building and proceeded to bang noisily on the windows of the room we were in.
This banging persisted incessantly throughout the meeting which, apart from creating a horrendous noise, was clearly an attempt to intimidate and silence our speakers.
It did not work.
All three speakers rose to the occasion and gave brilliant speeches.
The audience refused to be intimidated and we sustained the expected two-hour meeting with time for a full Q&A.
The police were present but their intervention was entirely inadequate. In fact, we feel that they effectively facilitated the intimidation of the meeting by their actions.
They did not create a sufficiently safe space for attendees of the meeting to enter and exit the venue.
They did not assist any ticketholders who expressed concern about their safety.
They did not stop the protestors banging on the windows.
They did not protect the fabric of the building.
They refused requests for assistance from some ticket holders as they exited the meeting.
Two women with disabilities were obstructed from exiting the meeting safely.
We are in the process of submitting a formal complaint.
The World Transformed
We were shocked to discover that organisers of The World Transformed posted on social media an encouragement to join the protest to stand up to ‘transphobic bigotry’, a slur which is entirely without foundation. It has been reported to us that an organiser also encouraged people to attend the protest from TWT platform.
Labour Party Delegates
We were also shocked to see several Labour Party delegates subsequently make false accusations about Woman’s Place UK from the podium which went unchecked by the Chair. We absolutely refute the accusations which we believe to be defamatory.
We are seeking legal advice.
26th September 2019
Press & Social Media
Women’s Meeting besieged by raging Crowd, Morning Star
Hundreds of protestors picket women’s rights meeting for hours, Brighton Argus
Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union came to the meeting and posted these comments:
Thangam Debbonaire MP condemned the intimidating nature of the protest:
The Women’s Equality Party Brighton posted this comment on Facebook:
Read the text of Kay Green’s speech, Dear Labour Party
- Watch the film of Kay Green’s speech
Read the text of Dani Ahrens’ speech, I am not your enemy: lets’s talk
- Watch the film of Dani Ahrens’ speech
Read the text of Onjali Rauf’s speech, The sheer audacity of our existence
- Watch the film of Onjali Rauf’s speech