London police under fire for “unacceptable” treatment of Sarah Everard’s vigil
The UK government is calling for an investigation after police clashed with mourners on Saturday night at a vigil held in memory of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who went missing earlier this month and was allegedly murdered by police officers. City Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said Sunday she was “more determined” than ever to lead the organization and was not considering resigning.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel both called on Sunday for an independent investigation into how the city’s main police have suspended the vigil over coronavirus restrictions.
Patel said that “some of the footage posted online of the Clapham vigil is annoying” and she has asked city police for a “full report of what happened at the vigil”.
Patel added that, according to BBC News, she will ask the police officer, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, a government agency that assesses the police force, to investigate the matter.
In a statementKhan repeated her call, saying that “scenes resulting from the surveillance of the vigil were totally unacceptable”. He added that he spoke to the commissioner and the deputy commissioner at the town hall on Sunday to explain to them what had happened and that he was “not satisfied with the explanation they made”.
Khan said he had also asked the police inspectorate to conduct a full investigation and asked the Independent Police Conduct Bureau to investigate the actions of officers at the vigil.
Dick, the Metropolitan Police’s first female commissioner, said she agreed with the need for a “sober review” and defended how officials reacted to the “really big crowd,” BBC News reported.
Everard, a marketing director, was last seen walking home from a friend in south London on March 3rd. A week later, she was found dead and police confirmed that Wayne Couzens, an elite officer in the London Metropolitan Police’s diplomatic protection command, had been charged with kidnapping and murder.
The official vigil in Clapham Common – near the place where Everard was last seen alive – was canceled earlier Saturday after a coronavirus policy ruled that attending a large gathering could be illegal.
Mourners were encouraged to light candles at home in honor of Everard, and some came to pay their respects during the day at Clapham Common to pay tribute to Everard’s life, including Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge who Sky News reported made an unofficial visit.
But on Saturday evening several hundred mourners gathered anyway. Women from all walks of life took part in the event as an act of solidarity and demanded security from male violence.
City Police Deputy Commissioner Helen Ball said local officials encouraged attendees to leave, and the vast majority of people did so quickly.
“Unfortunately, a small minority of people started singing to officers, pushing and throwing objects,” she said.
The vigil resulted in four arrests, which police say were for violations of public order and health regulations.
The officers’ tactics were subsequently questioned and criticized by activists and lawmakers from across the political spectrum Videos and pictures of women pinned and forcibly removed have gone viral online.
Regarding the policeman charged with Everard’s murder, participants shouted, “Arrest your own!” “Police, go home!”
In a statement on Sunday morning, Ball said the officials on the ground “absolutely did not want to be in a position where enforcement action was required” but “were put in that position because the security of people is a priority … The The pandemic is not over yet and gatherings of people from all over London and beyond are still unsafe “We accept that the actions of our officials have been challenged.”
Khan said he received “reassurances” from the Met last week that the vigil would be “closely monitored”.
“In my opinion, this was not the case.” Said Khan.
Many, including the leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party, have asked Dick to do so step back of their post about the conduct of their officers. Dick called it “devilishly difficult policing” and said she did not believe that “anyone who was not involved in the operation can actually make a detailed comment on the correctness and falsehood”.
In a video posted in Twitter, Patsy Stevenson, the woman held by officials, urged the public to move the narrative away from the police and back to what had happened to Everard by asking the public to take theirs in London’s Parliament Square on Monday Show support.
Everard’s death sparked national anger and restarted a national debate in the UK over women’s safety and sexual assault.
“I am shocked and appalled by the news from the Met about Sarah Everard and I think the whole country will be united in this feeling for her friends, family and we will share her shock and sadness,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. “Every woman should feel able to walk our streets safely.”
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