Home Secretary Priti Patel said she asked the Metropolitan Police for a “full report” after officials clashed with some of those present at a vigil in London in memory of Sarah Everard.
While the event in Clapham, south London was largely peaceful, brawls broke out in front of hundreds of people when police surrounded a bandstand covered in floral tributes to the 33-year-old.
At one point, male officers were seen grabbing several women before being handcuffed away to yell and yell at viewers, the PA news agency reported.
In response, the crowd sang, “Shame on you,” while during another confrontation, a desperate woman was heard telling officials, “You should protect us.”
The Home Secretary described the footage of the clashes as “disturbing” and added: “I asked the city police for a full report on what happened.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the scenes were “unacceptable” and tweeted, “The police are responsible for enforcing Covid’s laws, but it is clear from pictures I’ve seen that the response is sometimes neither was appropriate nor proportionate. “
Mr Khan said he was in contact with Commissioner Cressida Dick and was “urgently seeking an explanation” while Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey urged her to resign.
Union leader Sir Keir Starmer described the scenes as “deeply disturbing”.
“Women came together to mourn Sarah Everard – they could have done so peacefully,” he tweeted.
“I share their anger and excitement about how it was dealt with. This was not the way to monitor this protest. “
Hundreds of people gathered in the park in south London despite an official vigil canceled earlier in the day due to police warnings about coronavirus restrictions.
During the Clapham clashes, many other peaceful vigils were held across the country in places like Glasgow, Nottingham, Birmingham and Bristol – despite warnings of a lockdown.
A virtual event was also held at 6 p.m. with activists calling for more against violence against women, while candlelit vigils were held across the UK at 9:30 p.m., including 10 Downing Street.
Commander Catherine Roper, the Met’s director of community engagement, previously said the force “took no pleasure in seeing this event canceled, but it is the right thing, given the real and current threat of Covid-19”.
She said: “Throughout the week we had a number of conversations with the organizers of the vigil. These conversations have undoubtedly been challenging and the officials have worked hard to explain the rules and why such gatherings cannot currently take place.”