Well, here we are again, another chilly Sunday and another ‘Let Women Speak’ event menaced by TRAs. This time they brought along foghorns, megaphones and an amplifier, and I’d like to address that first of all. There’s a bylaw in the Royal Parks which states that amplification is not allowed. It makes sense really. On a busy day at Speaker’s Corner it would be impossible to hear a thing if all the speakers were amplified. Everyone else would just be immersed in a huge nonsensical cacophony of sound. Welcome to my Sunday afternoon, which was just that.
In yet another classic example of the ‘do whatever you want, all the time’ philosophy, the police made no attempt to stop the amplification. I spoke to one officer who said something about how on this occasion they were going to respect the TRAs ‘human right’ to express themselves. And express themselves they did – I expect they’d be glad to know my ears are still ringing.
Why are my ears ringing? Because, for much of the time, I was one of the women trying to ensure the TRAs didn’t move in and kettle us in an even smaller space. The police insisted they’d got it, but a few of us stood in the bigger gaps so the women listening to the speakers could- theoretically-feel safer. Another women who had positioned herself to stop the TRAs moving closer was using a walking aid with a seat. She faced a group holding a tarpaulin with ‘TERFs off our turf- defend trans lives’ sprayed on it in black paint. A kid in a beanie and a mask, probably young enough to be her grandchild, held up a piece of cardboard in front of her. It said ‘Fuck Fascists‘. I looked over to my right. A TRA was screaming something about being on the right side of history.
It was a damp afternoon, with brief half-hearted burst of sunshine and an on-and-off drizzle. As such, I faced a row of pointy rainbow umbrellas, less than a foot away from what Julia Long once referred to as ‘the baying mob that wants us dead’.
The TRAs held signs up above their umbrellas. Sometimes they hid behind them and at others they popped up to shout abuse over the top. Most of them wore face masks. A megaphone was just a foot from my face at one point and I could see an amp on the ground nearby. The guys at the front were tall and volatile. Think I’m exaggerating? Check out some of the clips I and others have shared on Twitter.
When I thought to do so, I counted about a dozen officers inside the perimeter. I couldn’t see outside but I’m told there were about half a dozen more.
Torn between my own distrust of the police and wishing there were more of them, I looked around, trying to measure out in my head how much space we had, using the ‘one tall man lying down= 6ft’ method. I reckoned our cut-off circle was about 18ft across. There were about a hundred people, mostly women, inside the circle, and about a hundred TRAs outside.
“We’re enclosed in a really small space,” I said to one officer. “They shouldn’t have been allowed to push us so close together.” He told me there weren’t enough officers present to protect a larger circle. I asked ‘Why not?’. Hadn’t they seen what had happened in New Zealand? He nodded, but to be honest I’m not sure he’d even heard what I said. Remember, we were surrounded by five score screaming lunatics. He didn’t have an answer but at least he was willing to speak to me. At least two of the officers seemed to be employing a ‘don’t engage at all’ policy.
“Scratch a TERF a fascist bleeds!” chant the TRAs.
We’ve had a lot of meetings in Hyde Park over the last few years. I’d like to know when any woman has stood up and said anything fascistic? Because I’ve been to many, if not most, of the meetings, and I’ve never heard anything like that. The TRAs seem genuinely confused with no idea of specifics. They are double-plus good. We are double-plus ungood. We are mean, nasty poopoo heads because we don’t want to play with the gender fairy. They are sounding foghorns and shouting that we are Nazi scum and that there are more of them than us.
“They’re moving in,” I observed to the policewoman. “If they get much closer it would be really easy for them to rush us.” She ignored me. I made the same observation to another officer, “Oh no they’re not,” he said, in a perky and reassuring tone. “Don’t worry, nothing’s going to happen. We’re here to protect everyone.”
I wasn’t sure I shared his confidence, faced as I was with over a hundred angry protestors, but to give him his due, it didn’t kick off.
“How many more queer kids must die?” chanted a woman into a megaphone. “Family values are a lie!” screamed the guy behind her, who must have had a really shit childhood.
Wait though… what… whose family? Which values? That’s a lot of assumptions right there.
The guy with the blue wing-eyeliner continued screaming, “family values are a lie!” in a rough, gravelly and yet somehow high-pitched voice. I didn’t know whether to feel more sorry for him or his mum.
Shortly afterwards, a woman started shouting about abortion rights. I was genuinely confused for a moment. Did she honestly believe that as a group we were against abortion rights? Someone shouted ‘gay rights are human rights’. Don’t they realise that about half the people they are kettling are LGB? One person, their head entirely covered, was holding a sign reading ‘Gender is stewpid anyway’. Yes. So it is. So what the fuck is all this about?
It’s insane. They literally have no idea what they are protesting about. They think they’re shouting at a group of women who want to exploit the poor, deny abortion rights, torture children, kick puppies and force everyone to be straight and boring. It is absolute fucking madness. And why are their signs so stewpid and hyperbolic?
TERFS FUCK OFF
FASCISTS FUCK OFF
FUCK OFF FASCISTS
Posie Parker? More like park your TERF arse elsewhere
Every trans suicide is a preventable murder
Gender is stewpid anyway
You can resist we’ll still exist
Your bigotry kills kids
Trans lives matter more than fascist feelings
“Why don’t you just kill yourselves?” yells one. A few of them take it up, giggling at their own bravado.
“Why don’t you just kill yourselves? Why don’t you just kill yourselves?”
But I digress. Where was I? Ah, yes, the amplification. Totally against the rules of the Royal Parks, for reasons we’ve already noted. I remember a year ago- two years ago?- when Posie (or possibly another woman) brought along an amplifier we were told in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t allowed.
The policeman- who seemed like a reasonable bloke, just trying to do his job yada yada- told me it had been decided by ‘command structure’ that it was the protestors ‘human right’ to use a megaphone to protest, despite the bylaw forbidding it. I asked if the bylaw was meaningless in that case, we all had human rights, so was anybody allowed to break it? No, he replied, the excemption was only for the purposes of this event.
“So are you saying his human right to use a megaphone overrules the law?” I asked.
“A minor infringement of a bylaw, yes. In order for the protest to take place.”
“Nazi scum! Nazi Scuuuuuuuuuum!” screamed the guy in front of us.
A foghorn went off by my left ear.
The officer told me the police’s role was to “make sure the event goes off without any physical altercation and everyone has the opportunity to protest peacefully.”
“Nazi Scum!” screamed the guy in front of us, banging his drum in a frenzy. “NAZI SCUM! NAZI SCUUUUUMMMMM!”
It was LOUD. So loud that now, over 5 hours after I was standing near the megaphone in Hyde Park, my ears are still ringing as if I’d just left a really loud gig. The police officer standing next to me at one point didn’t even have the luxury of moving around. She just had to stand there while they yelled “Why don’t you fucking kill yourselves?” at us and “All coppers are bastards” at her.
Freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest are vital in a civilised society. Yelling in peoples faces, making loud noises in their ears, screaming at them to kill themselves & calling them Nazis is neither free speech nor peaceful protest. It’s bullying & intimidation, and guys, wake up, you are not on the right side of history if you behave like this, whatever that’s supposed to mean.
“Nazi scum,” they shout. “Kill yourself! TERFS kill kids!
You can’t hide! You’ve got fascists on your side!”
Women Spoke Anyway
Despite the frenzied noise, women did speak. I couldn’t hear any of them, but there are several links below to videos of the afternoon.
Mr Menno posted a video thread of his experience at Speakers Corner and how TRAs followed him and his friends afterwards.
Julia Hartley Brewer discusses the afternoon in Hyde Park, in a recording shared on Twitter by Venice, here.
Journalist Subject Access who ‘endeavour(s) to cover as many news stories as possible that the Mainstream Media refuse to report on’ recorded his experience here.
“I’ve been at Speakers Corner for 35 years. Speakers Corner is about the right to free speech. That’s not free speech. That’s the destruction of free speech.”
“The feminists are being labelled as Nazis for stating mere scientific facts,” observes Muslim YouTuber Ali Dawar in his video.
Referring to the TRAs, who pushed him, swore at him and poked him with umbrellas, he observes,“these guys are violent thugs… they’re a religion, a very violent religion.”