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East End Women Protest

March 8, 2022
by the gentle author

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East End Peace Women’s Group in action in Dalston

If on International Women’s Day, we should need evidence that the spirit of the East End Suffragettes of a century ago is still with us, Contributing Photographer David Hoffman‘s astonishing images of women’s protest in the eighties are an enduring and inspirational witness to our unquenchable desire for justice.

“Some of these photographs are of our gang, Tower Hamlets Women for Peace, along with two blokes from Tower Hamlets Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, blocking the Whitechapel Rd near the Cambridge Heath Rd crossing early in the morning of Tuesday 20th Dec 1983.  Most of us were nicked and defended ourselves in a remarkable court case at which we were all found guilty but unconditionally discharged.

Other photographs show when we blocked Whitechapel Rd close to the Vallance Rd crossing, sometimes by crossing the road back and forth repeatedly rather than sitting down. We did this whenever we got a message on the Greenham ‘phone-tree’ that Cruise nuclear convoys were on the road. We wanted to publicise this as well as the fact that Whitechapel Rd is a Military Service Route to be taken over as such should our government or the United States government decide to wage a nuclear war.

There are also photographs here of the Blood Money demo outside British Association of Film & Television Arts at 195 Piccadilly where there was a conference of arms traders and manufacturers on International Women’s Day, 8th March 1984. Our Peace Group joined others there to chuck red paint in their general direction. One of the pictures shows the arrest of an older woman in a shawl writing a note on her wrist, who was the one who had the good wheeze – sadly not possible on modern public transport – of hopping onto a bus and chucking her paint from the platform as it passed. Unfortunately, the cops caught up with the bus at the traffic lights.

Various arrests and  court cases ensued, of which I remember only my own at which I got off by showing – with the help of David Hoffman’s photos – that my red paint had actually hit BAFTA’s door, not the public pavement I was accused of damaging.”

A Member of Tower Hamlets Women for Peace

East End Peace Women’s Group in action in Whitechapel

East End Peace Women’s Group in action in Hackney

East End Peace Women’s Group in action in Piccadilly

“I started photographing protest and other social issues in the seventies. I was living in Whitechapel at that time and the women I knew were involved in squatting and generally trying to resist the horrors of the Thatcher era. The women’s peace movement really took off with the establishment of the American nuclear missile base in Greenham and East End women were among the most active and committed.

I felt privileged to be trusted with advance notice of some of the actions and to be able to photograph them. These pictures are from the winter of 1983-84 and, if anyone has caption information or memories to share, I would love to be able to add that to these images.”

David Hoffman

East End Peace Women’s Group in action in Whitechapel

Photographs copyright © David Hoffman

 

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Sarah Ainslie permalink
    March 8, 2022

    These are great David so glad you were there to document this time, and sadly it is still so pertinent to this moment in time. Strangely the police seem very baffled by all these wonderful women.

  2. Marnie Sweet permalink
    March 8, 2022

    Brave but benign protests by ‘impudent women’ that shocked the world in those days.

    Compare and contrast with the ‘peaceful protests’ by armed and masked hired individuals

    that torched and held hostage such cities as Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Milwaukee,

    ad infinitum, inflicting death, loss of income, closing of small businesses, and nationwide

    terror–with little police or governmental intervention.

  3. Andy permalink
    March 8, 2022

    So special.
    You feel the blood sweat and staunch of these protestors.

  4. sprite permalink
    March 8, 2022

    I know the lady holding the placard Cruise bring death to our roads and chained in the bus. She still lives locally and is involved with the London Budhist centre. In case you want her co-ordinates, I could ask her if she’s willing to forward them.

    sprite

  5. March 11, 2022

    Hi Sprite

    You mean Jeanne? We met in the street recently so we are sort of in touch. Give her my best wishes when you next see her.
    David

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