UK politicians slam police's harsh reaction to vigil of murdered London woman

·3-min read
People gather at a memorial site in London following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard (Photo credit: Reuters)
People gather at a memorial site in London following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard (Photo credit: Reuters)

London [UK], March 15 (ANI): Several UK politicians and activists slammed London police's heavy-handed approach at a Saturday night vigil for Sarah Everand, a 33-year-old woman who was murdered and her body was found in South London on Friday.

Throughout the day, mourners had flocked to the bandstand of Clapham Common, an area where Everard was last seen, in a tribute to her life. They also came in an act of solidarity, as an acknowledgement of the shared, omnipresent experience of intimidation, violence and harassment that women constantly face in public spaces, according to CNN.

The main event at Clapham Common was cancelled after the Metropolitan police said they couldn't go ahead, citing COVID-19 restrictions. However, by nightfall, peaceful mourners gathered in Clapham, chanting: "This is a vigil, we do not need your services."

Less than an hour later, officers moved in to inform people that they were breaching COVID-19 regulations and had to leave. After that, officers moved in and surrounded demonstrators - asking them to leave, or faces arrest and fines.

CNN reported that as law enforcement officers forcibly removed women from the bandstand and dropped others face down to the floor in arrest, attendees chanted: "Shame on you," "Arrest your own," and "Who do you protect."

Several UK leaders across party divides have agreed that the police response was disproportionately harsh and London Mayor has ordered "a full independent investigation of events yesterday evening and in previous days."

"I will now be asking Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to conduct a full independent investigation of events yesterday and in previous days. I am also asking the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to investigate the actions of police officers yesterday evening," Khan said in the statement.

"It is vital that these events are not allowed to undermine the powerful calls since Sarah's murder for meaningful action to finally stop men inflicting violence on women. It was clear before yesterday that there isn't adequate trust and confidence from women and girls in the police and criminal justice system more widely. Further steps must now be taken to address this," he added.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer called the scenes in Clapham 'deeply disturbing. "This was not the way to police this protest," he said.

The leaders of the Liberal Democrat party agreed, joining a growing chorus that have called on the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to resign, CNN reported.

"Cressida Dick has lost the confidence of the millions of women in London and should resign," said the Liberal Democrats.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said that "some" of the footage that was circulating online was "upsetting" and said she had asked the Metropolitan police for a "full report on what happened."

However, Patel also introduced the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021, which critics say is intent on squashing the peaceful right to protest.

A police officer by the name of Wayne Couzens, has been charged with kidnapping and murdering Everard.

Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was last seen on March 3 in the Clapham neighbourhood of south London. The police said on Wednesday that human remains had been found as part of their investigation into her disappearance, prompting an outpouring of grief from lawmakers, community leaders and London residents. (ANI)