Suffragettes March 17 1913





Ever since the militant section of the Women’s Suffrage movement adopted a policy of outrage they have had the greatest difficulty in obtaining a hearing at their Hyde Park meetings. Fresh developments of disorder made their appearance at their meeting yesterday afternoon, and even before the speaking began some thousands of people who had collected in the Park made it clear that they were resolved that the women should not be allowed to continue. The meeting became of such a disorderly character that the police intervened and stopped it after it had been in progress for a little over half an hour; and it was perfectly evident that had it not been for the extraordinary precautions taken by the police to protect the women they would have had a very rough time indeed.

The cart which served as a platform was in the same position as last wee, by the inner railing on the Bayswater-road side of the Park. The speakers and their principal supporters entered from the other side of the Park, and when they were about half way across they were surrounded by a great crowd, which tried to arrest their further progress. So threatening did the people’s attitude become that the Superintendent Wells – who with some hundred of the police, both mounted and on foot have to devote their Sunday afternoons to protecting the militante – sent off a number of mounted men to provide an escort for Miss Brackenbury and the others. The crowd continued to grow, and the Suffragists and their police escort had to pass through a dense mass of unsympathetic spectators who jeered at and derided them. Thanks, however, to the hard work of the police the women were able to reach their extemporised platform in safety.

Mrs. Drummond was the first speaker, but the moment she made her appearance the noise of the crowd became deafening. It was impossible to hear a word she said a few feet away. Bells were rung whistles blown, songs sung in chorus, and every possible expression of derision used towards her and the other women on the platform beside her. The crowd was in a much more ugly temper than the week before many shouting “Why did you burn the railway stations?” Mrs. Drummond`s answer was inaudible. She had, in fact hardly uttered more than half a dozen sentences when she was struck by a piece of turf, and after that both her speech and those that followed were punctuated with a shower of missiles, none of them at first being of a nature to inflict injury. Besides turfts of grass and earth, orange peel and tomatoes were thrown, one of the latter breaking on Mrs. Drummond`s velvet jacket and leaving a great stain.

When she was tired out with the noise, which compelled her to shout at the top of her voice, Mrs. Drummond`s place was taken by a young woman, who put such vigorous action into her speech that her voice was drowned in shouts of laughter. A little later not only turf but pebbles began to rattle about the cart. Superintendent Wells had a great force of police in reserve on the outskirts of the gathering, and these were closed in nearer to the temporary platform. The shouting, singing, and turf throwing continued, and it obvious that an attempt would be made sooner or later to rush the cart, with the likelihood of personal injury being sustained both by the militant women and many of those who had come as onlookers, Superintendent Wells felt himself compelled, therefore to close the meeting. The horse was hastily harnessed to the cart, which, with the women still in it, was driven away, accompanied by a force of mounted police. When the crowd saw that the meeting was ended they sang the National Anthem in the heartiest fashion.

A large number of police on foot had to accompany the women as they left, and the demonstration against them did not cease for a long time. Turf was thrown at them as the cart, with its bodyguard of fifty or more stalwart policemen, slowly made its way to the road-way at the Marble Arch. Mrs. Drummond insisted on alighting, and immediately she had done so she had to be provided with a personal escort, who had to force a way for her towards the Tube station at the Marble Arch. The traffic at the end of Oxford-street and Edgware-road, as well as Park-lane, had to be held up while the women were getting away. The Tube station was occupied by the police, and for half an hour or more there were outbreaks against militants who either were known or were selling the Society’s newspaper.



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