Suffragettes July 28 1913





Following on a meeting of the militant section of the Woman Suffragists which was permitted in Trafalgar-square yesterday, more riotous scenes took place in Whitehall. Plans had been made for an attempt to raid the Government offices in Whitehall and Parliament-street, but these were frustrated by the cleaver tactics of the police. At first the meeting in Trafalgar-square proceeded in an orderly way. Most of the demonstrators had come from Whitechapel and Bow, and as they marched they sang the “Marseillaise” and waved red Phrygian cape – the Cap of Liberty of the French Revolution – which also adorned the poles of the banners. Addresses were given from three sides of the plinth of the Nelson Monument. After the meeting had been in progress for about half an hour Miss Sylvia Pankhurst made her appearance. She was hailed with loud cheers by her supporters. By this time the gathering had grown to great dimensions about ten thousand being present, most of them being merely spectators. Miss Pankhurst was attended by a bodyguard of men, who had forced a way for her through the crowd. She interrupted the meeting to say that the women of the East End were demanding the vote, and had signed declarations which must be carried to Downing-street. She asked all who cared for votes for women to take part in that struggle.

We are a great concourse here,” she went on to say, “and there are very few police. If you get close up do not content yourselves with jeering merely, but get inside the houses. There is a small brass knob on the door of the Prime Minister’s house which when pulled will open the door. I hope everyone in this meeting will go to Downing-street with these resolutions.” Later she said that in 1886 men were advised to loot the Park-lane, but to the Ministers’ house. A resolution to take the demands of the East End women to Downing-street was then put by Miss Pankhurst who declared it carried, though hands were held up against it even among those on the plinth.

An extraordinary scene followed. Miss Pankhurst came down from the plinth and was again surrounded by her bodyguard of dock labourers, who linked arms and made their way towards Whitehall. The police had been prepared for the movement and had hidden their reserves in the recruiting barracks and the fore court of the Admiralty. No resistance was made to the advance of the bodyguard and the militants’ leader till they had gone nearly to the Admiralty. There they found a cordon of police suddenly drawn across the road. Acting on instructions, Miss Sylvia Pankhurst and her male guardians were let through, and then the rest of the crowd were held back, despite efforts to break the line of police. Another body of constables closed in on the bodyguard, who showed some fight, but were broken up at once, and the object of their care was re-arrested by Inspector Buckley, who had all the necessary authority for the purpose. The success of the police stratagem and her own re-arrest by Inspector Buckley made Miss Pankhurst very angry. Instead of the easy march to Downing-street which had been prophesied she found the authorities ready at every point. When she was taken to Cannon-row Police-station she broke a pane of glass, cutting her fingers in the process. She was put into a taxi-cab, and despite her struggles on the way, re-lodged in Holloway Prison.

None of her followers knew of the movement on the part of the police. They made attempts to break through the police cordon to rescue her, and a number of her bodyguard and others were arrested for obstruction and for assaulting the police. Some of the women perpetrated grave assaults on the police, deliberately kicking the men. Several windows at the Home Office were broken by stone-throwers. One woman threw a stone at 10, Downing-street, but missed the house so widely that the police were content to keep her on the move. Many of the constables were struck with sticks and umbrellas.

The names of those arrested by the police, all on charges of obstruction and assaults, are Benjamin Gomm, Charles Green, Joseph Harrison, James Palmer, George Carter, Lucian Desbledes, William Young, James McPherson, James Booty, Albert Jamrach, Jane Fall, Gwendoline Cook, Alice Brown, Miss Billings, Alice Rose, Mary Joachim, Mrs. D. Cole, Mrs. Pascoe, and Miss Morris. All were bailed out later in the evening and will appear at Bow-street today. A large number of their friends principally young girls, came to the station to offer themselves as bail and had to be taken to task for unruly conduct. Several others waited about near the gates demanding to be allowed to bail out Miss Sylvia Pankhurst, unaware of the fact that she had been taken to Holloway Prison. Crowds remained in the neighbourhood of Cannon-row till a late hour.

Mrs Pankhurst was reported last night to be “out of danger.”



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