Clashes break out at Sarah Everard vigil

Hundreds of people resisted police requests to gather in Clapham Common on Saturday night while others held virtual vigils to commemorate Sarah Everard.

Some clashes broke out when emotions were high at the gathering in south London near the place where 33-year-old Ms. Everard had disappeared.

Officers surrounded the bandstand where people were laying flowers and members of the crowd could hear them shouting “Shame on you”.

An official vigil – like others across the UK – has been canceled due to coronavirus restrictions. However, at 6 p.m. there was a virtual event with activists calling for more to combat violence against women.

A minute’s silence was observed and candles were lit during the online vigil hosted by Feminists of London. TV presenter Sandi Toksvig called the death of Ms. Everard as a “turning point”.

In Clapham, a video posted online showed officers grabbing women in the bandstand before leading them away to scream and yell in front of onlookers.

The city police were criticized for monitoring the gathering. One MP described her as “heartbreaking and crazy to look at”.

Sarah Owen of Labor added: “Nobody can see these scenes thinking that this was far from badly handled by @metpoliceuk. It could and should have been so different. “

Charlotte Nichols, Shadow Secretary for Women and Equality, tweeted: “If @metpoliceuk had put the resources into helping @ReclaimTS hold the originally planned covid-safe vigil, they would have every collective display of grief and solidarity (both by the courts stopped and a stubborn physical reaction) we would all be in a better place. “

TV presenter Sandi Toksvig opened the online event, saying she has never felt “more passionate about my children”.

She said, “It certainly can’t ask too much that you are just free to go where you want, when you want.

“I am filled with deep sorrow and anger in equal measure, and I know there are many who share that anger, and I think it is perfectly justified. But I also know that if we don’t try to channel this anger towards a good cause, it will do us more harm than good. “

She added that no “small change” is needed, but “a cultural change in how women are viewed and treated in both public and private spaces”.

“This has to be a tipping point where ending the violence will finally become a political priority,” she said.

Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, echoed these views, adding: “The way to truly honor Sarah and every other woman we have lost is to demand that politicians of all kinds consider violence against women and girls politically and politically handle police priority. “

She said, “The pain and sharpness of this moment lies in the devastating fact that all women and girls live under the constant threat that what happened to Sarah can happen to any of us.

“The reality for women and girls is that the harassment we experience, which is as pervasive as the air we breathe, can escalate at any time.”

Reclaim These Streets, who had planned to hold the Clapham vigil before it was canceled, urged people to attend a front door vigil at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday. The group said they would join people across the country and “shine a light, a candle, a torch, a phone to remember Sarah Everard and all the women who have been victims of violence. “

They added, “We are not just lighting a candle for the women we have lost. We have been inspired by the women who have tried and hope this is just the beginning of a movement that is a fire for change ignited. “

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would light a candle for Ms. Everard with his fiancée Carrie Symonds and think of the 33-year-old’s family and friends.

“I can’t imagine how unbearable her pain and sadness are. We have to work quickly to find all the answers to this terrible crime, ”he said.

“I will do everything I can to make sure the streets are safe and that women and girls are not harassed or abused.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would light a candle as well, adding that nearly 20,000 people responded within 24 hours to a consultation on how the government could tackle violence against women and girls.

“This is completely new and we will carefully examine the answers,” she tweeted.

The Duchess of Cambridge was among those who visited the makeshift memorial at Clapham Common on Saturday to pay her respects and was seen standing in front of the sea of ​​flowers.

Meanwhile, a women’s charity fundraiser by Reclaim These Streets exceeded its £ 320,000 target on Saturday night.

On Saturday, the group said that despite their attempts to work with police to make sure the Clapham vigil was safe, they now feel it cannot.

Organizers said they made “many suggestions” to the police, including splitting the event into different time slots – but were told that a vigil could risk a fine of £ 10,000 for each organizing woman.

A number of police forces across the country also issued statements urging people not to attend the in-person events but encouraging people to move online.

A vigil scheduled for Ms. Everard’s hometown of York was canceled and organizers urged people to put a photo of a candle in her window or door, while events in Coventry and Birmingham were also canceled.

Reclaim These Streets’ fundraising goal of £ 320,000 was intended to reflect the fines that might have been imposed if the vigil had been held, with the aim of raising £ 10,000 for each of the 32 vigils scheduled according to the organizers.

Caitlin Prowle of Reclaim These Streets said the group did not want to get into a situation where they had to raise funds to pay fines rather than for charity.

She said the money would “go straight back” into a system that women “continue to fail”.


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