Suffragettes July 25 1913

 

THE MORNING POST JULY 25 1913

SUFFRAGISTS AND POLICE

FIERCE STRUGGLE IN PICCADILLY

 

There were fierce disturbances outside the London Pavilion yesterday afternoon at the conclusion of the weekly meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union. Mrs. Pankhurst, who has been staying at a flat in Westminster since her last release from prison, attended the gathering and with her on the platform was Miss Annie Kenney, who was also on licence. Mrs. Pankhurst entered the building when Miss Kenney was disposing of her two licences by auction, each of which was ultimately sold for £6. Scotland Yard soon ascertained that the two women were present, and uniformed officers were rapidly drafted to Piccadilly-circus, and surrounded the building. An inspector stood in the entrance hall and refused admission to all save those who possessed tickets issued by the Union. Posted at the entrance were half-a-dozen constables, and police guarded every door of the triangular building, which faces the Circus and has Shaftesbury-avenue on one side and Great Windmill-street on the other. The officers, it may be mentioned, did not enter the Pavilion, while the meeting was in progress, because, according to an interpretation of the provisions of Mr. McKenna’s Act, they have no power to do so.

During the latter portion of the meeting, several notes were brought by a woman to the chairman’s table, and were perused by Mrs. Pankhurst and Miss Kenney. At the close of the speech-making; Miss Brackenbury requested the audience to disperse quietly, as they wanted, she said, to continue holding their meetings in the hall. Mrs Pankhurst did not leave by the wings, but passed down off the stage to the box on the right, the presumption beginning that she was on her way to leave the theatre by the state door. Miss Kenney then passed from the stage to the main door, and as soon as she reached the pavement beneath the front porch she was arrested, and without a pause was hurried by the police towards a taxicab which was waiting. Women at once closed in on the police and attempted to tear Miss Kenney from the hands which held her. Losing all sense of restraint they smashed the officers across the head with umbrellas and even pummelled the officers’ faces with their fists. While two detectives, grasping Miss Kenney, pushed their way through the swaying and fighting mob, others aided by a strong force of uniformed men tried to force back the desperate women. For nearly two minutes a fierce fight raged, and the officers were at last compelled to use violence. Coats, dresses, and hats were ripped and torn, umbrellas, and sticks were smashed, and both the police and the women, who were aided by a few men, had a rough time. A man who hit an officer in the mouth was felled to the ground, and women who fought with ferocity got as good as they gave. Miss Kenney was literally torn from the hands of the crowd, and was bundled unceremoniously into the taxicab, which immediately drove away, no attempt being made to stop follow it.

Meanwhile Mrs. Pankhurst had succeeded in getting away. She certainly did not leave by the stage door, and Inspector Riley, after a thorough search of the Pavilion, admitted that she was not concealed anywhere inside. There was no doubt that while the police were fighting to retain Miss Kenney Mrs. Pankhurst’s friends had taken advantage of the confusion on the pavement and had hurried her through the crowd. She was supposed to have crossed the road and departed in a taxicab.

Later it was announced by the Women’s Social and Political Union that Mrs Pankhurst whose birthday it happened to be, was “at home in bed having tea.” Describing how she escaped, an official of the Union said that Mrs. Pankhurst and Miss Kenney both left the Pavilion together at the front entrance. Miss Kenney went first, and the women closed around Mrs. Pankhurst so that the police failed to see her. They arrested Miss Kenney, and during the scuffle which ensured Mrs. Pankhurst walked out and got into a taxicab. She added that no attempt had been made to re-arrest Mrs. Pankhurst.

The tactics of the Suffragists who strove to rescue Miss Kenney, and who even bit and scratched in their wild efforts, resulted in the police making three arrests. Two women and a man were conveyed to Vine-street, and will be charged at Marlborough-street this morning. Their names are Miss Bell, of the Union, and Mrs. Mary Wyan both charged with assaulting the police; and Robson Page of Tooting, charged with obstruction. So great was the crush outside the Pavilion that a man at the corner of Great Windmill-street was pushed into the road in front of a vehicle and was injured son the head.

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