Suffragettes May 22 1914





The attempt of Mrs. Pankhurst and the militant Suffragists to present a petition to the King at Buckingham Palace yesterday proved, as was expected, a fiasco. The Suffragists were baffled at every turn by the police organisation, Mrs. Pankhurst, with fifty or sixty other persons, was arrested, and the shouting, gesticulating women who attempted to take part in the demonstration became the sport of a huge crowd, which seemed to regard the affair as a holiday spectacle. The object of the proposed “interview” with the King was stated to be to present a petition demanding votes for women, to protest against “torture,” and to claim equal treatment for militant Ulstermen and militant Suffragists. The women had been informed that their request for an interview would not be granted, but they persisted in their demand, and they came to scene of operations in a violent and aggressive mood, many of them armed with bottles, truncheon, and other weapons, and some with sulphur adhesive powder, and preparations which burst on striking the police.

The procession was never given a chance to assume a combined form. The women who were to compose it met for instructions before mid-day at the offices of the Women’s Social and Political Union in Kingsway afterwards proceeding to various points among those being the Union’s offices in Tothill-street. It was proposed that the procession should leave there at three o’clock, but the police on duty in Tothill-street informed the leaders that this would not be allowed, and that any attempt to form a procession would be at once frustrated. This had an important bearing on the later proceedings of the day, for it effectively prevented anything like combination by the various units.

In the open space outside the Wellington Arch there was a scene of great violence just about four o’clock. Both inside and outside the gates there was a considerable force of policemen, with some mounted men, and another detachment of mounted men patrolled Constitution Hill under the direction of Superintendent Wells. Just before four o’clock a large body of women approached the entrance gates, Mrs. Pankhurst walking in the centre of the font row. The procession was largely reinforced by women who had been waiting about. Before they could enter the park the gates were closed. The women immediately attacked the police. Some of them tried to pull the mounted men from their horses; the men retaliated with their fists, and were then struck with truncheons. The police in turn used their batons on the arms and shoulders of the women, and general fight followed, in the course of which many women and several of the constables were injured. As the gates were opened to permit of the passing through of a fresh force of police many of the women slipped into the park, including Mrs. Pankhurst, who proceeded towards the Palace, where she was arrested. The women outside the gates were gradually driven back. About a score of them were pushed into Hyde Park Police Station, and many others were taken to Cannon-row Police Station.



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