Anger erupts following police’s ‘upsetting’ handling of Sarah Everard vigil

Anger erupts following police’s ‘upsetting’ handling of Sarah Everard vigil

Shock and anger have erupted following scenes of clashes between police and women who were attending a vigil for Sarah Everard at Clapham Common, south London on Saturday evening.

Four people were reportedly arrested after police attempted to disperse the crowds that had gathered on the scene. A number of those in attendance were physically pulled away from the spot, while another woman was pinned to the ground in an image that has since gone viral.

The crowd had defied police warnings that the gathering was ‘unsafe’ due to the coronavirus restrictions. The official event, organised by Reclaim These Streets was cancelled many hours before and replaced with an online and doorstop vigil. The activist group has since said that they have been ‘deeply saddened and angered by what they have seen in Clapham on Saturday evening, which was organised by Sisters Uncut.

Police have since added in a statement, “Those who gathered were spoken to by officers on a number of occasions and over an extended period of time. We repeatedly encouraged those who were there to comply with the law and leave. Regrettably, a small minority of people began chanting at officers, pushing and throwing items.”

Images and videos of what happened in Clapham Common were soon widely spread on social media. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called what happened ‘unacceptable’ and said that he was seeking an explanation from police commissioner Cressida Dick.

Shortly afterwards, home secretary Priti Patel called the scenes ‘upsetting’ and has requested a full report into what happened.

Prime minister Boris Johnson did not directly address the scenes from Saturday night but did say that he and his partner Carrie Symonds had lit a candle for Sarah.

Some Tory MPs, who have been opposed to the Covid-19 restrictions, also voiced their criticism of what happened, with Steve Baker asking Johnson to change the lockdown laws now.

Many opposition MPs also voiced their disappointment and anger at the police’s handling of the event. Labour leader Keir Starmer called it “deeply disturbing” and that he shared people’s anger. Meanwhile, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey called for Cressida Dick to resign.

Elsewhere, the feeling, from all sides was that the policing of the event had been mishandled and the scenes that followed were ‘unfathomable.’

The scenes in Clapham starkly contrasted other vigils held around the country which passed without incident. On the other side of London, in Walthamstow, women dressed as characters from the dystopian novel and TV series The Handmaid’s Tale with local MP Stella Creasy adding that “women in Walthamstow made their feelings about the failure to tackle violence against women clear.”

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton was amongst the many who had visited Clapham Common on Saturday afternoon so she could ‘pay her respects to the family and to Sarah.’ Kensington Palace added that she “remembers what it was like to walk around London at night before she was married.”

More: Sarah Everard’s disappearance speaks to a bigger issue surrounding violence against women

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