How effective was the policing of the Trafalgar Square riots

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Trafalgar Square riots took place on November 13, 1887, as London's poor, centered in the East End, joined forces with middle class socialists in an event later referred to as "Bloody Sunday." The riots were in part a protest against poverty and the abrogation of civil rights under British rule in Ireland. In addition, an economic disturbance called the Long Depression had affected Britain since 1873, creating unemployment in rural areas. As a result, people flocked to London, and conditions in the city were overcrowded. The working class in London faced high unemployment, and they began to protest in the mid-1870s in Trafalgar Square because it was seen as the meeting place of the poor people in the East End and the wealthier residents of the West End. 

On November 13, 1887, approximately 10,000 people began to protest in Trafalgar Square at a meeting organized by the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), surrounded by even greater numbers of spectators. About 2,000 policemen and 400 troops, including both cavalry and infantry, were involved in attacking the protestors, many of whom were injured by horses and by police truncheons and cutlasses. The reaction of the police only brought about further demonstrations. At a later protest held on November 20, a bystander named Alfred Linnell was killed by a horse. As a result, there was general outrage against the tactics the police used in quelling the riots. At Linnell's funeral on December 18, the leader of the Socialist League, William Morris, gave a speech denouncing the police and supporting protests.

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