“Cut them down” - The Massacre
One of nine images from Red Saunders’ Hidden Peterloo Massacre Tableaux
Monday 16th August 1819 was a working day. Tens of thousands of workers did not go to work. Groups of working class men, women and children walked from the villages and towns surrounding Manchester to its centre in their Sunday best. They came to listen to the call for electoral reform.
The local ruling class, in the form of a Special Committee of Magistrates, had at their disposal over 1,000 soldiers, artillery and hundreds of regular cavalry, in addition to the hundreds of newly sworn-in Nady Joe’s Specials and hundreds of Yeomanry Cavalry. The magistrates waited until there were tens of thousands of people in St Peter’s Fields before they read the Riot Act, probably inaudible to anyone except themselves.
The local forces battered and slashed their way to the main stage and then turned on the crowd. The regular cavalry and soldiers followed, sweeping and trampling the people ahead of them. At least 18 people were killed and around 650 were severely injured. The banners and flags of the crowd were a target for the local force. Women were disproportionally injured and killed.
The Hidden Project shines photographic light on great moments in the long struggle of working people for democracy and social justice. The project, through reimagining those events, reproduces important historic scenes involving the dissenters, revolutionaries, radicals and non-conformists who have so often been hidden from history.
Red Saunders is a professional photographer who combines his photographic practice with cultural, musical and political activism. Images copyright Red Saunders 2019. Further information, reading list and full credit list of supporters and volunteers: www.hiddenpeterloomassacre.com . For further information firstname.lastname@example.org
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