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Occupation of Holy Cross Church, King's Cross 1982

Following in the footsteps of sex workers in France who occupied churches across the country to protest police arresting and fining them while doing nothing to stop murders and rapes, the ECP occupied the Holy Cross Church in the red-light area of King’s Cross, London for 12 days in 1982 to protest police illegality and racism against street workers, and the denial of protection from rape and other violence.

The occupation drew widespread support as many – including Andaiye from Guyana’s Working People’s Alliance, Labour MP Tony Benn and members of the lesbian organisation Sappho – turned up to show their support.

The occupation marked the beginning of the modern sex workers’ rights movement.

OCCUPATION FOOTAGE

FEATURES

KING’S CROSS STORY PALACE PROJECT

In May 2018, Sarah Walker from the ECP sat down with Polly Rodgers to record her memories of the ECP occupation of the Holy Cross Church as part of the project King’s Cross Story Palace. In the recordings below, Sarah talked about the political climate that led up to the occupation, the occupation itself, and what life was like for sex workers working in King’s Cross in the ‘80s. 

ARTICLE

Frankie Miren interviews women who were at the centre of the occupation, and explores the legacy of their action today.

AUDIO

BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat report covering the occupation. Interviews with sex workers and London Councillor Brynley Heaven.

PUBLICATIONS

Hookers in the House of the Lord

Hookers in the House of the Lord

Author: Selma James

First published: 1983

The unique account of the 1982 occupation by those who lived it and created it.  Available to order online in December 2021!