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Minggu, 14 Maret 2021

Sarah Everard vigil mourners shout 'shame on you' at London police amid scuffles - ABC News

London police have faced a backlash from the public and politicians for heavy-handed tactics in breaking up an outdoor vigil for a woman allegedly murdered by one of their officers.

The disappearance of Sarah Everard, 33, as she walked home on the evening of March 3, has provoked a huge outpouring of grief and dismay in Britain at the perceived failure of police and wider society to tackle violence against women.

Police had denied permission for a vigil on Saturday evening at Clapham Common, near where Ms Everard was last seen alive, citing regulations aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.

But hundreds of people, mostly women, gathered peacefully at the park in defiance of the ban to pay their respects to Ms Everard throughout the day, including Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

A crouching woman wipes tears from her eye as a crowd of mourners solemnly observe a floral memorial.
Mourners gathered peacefully throughout the day but later clashed with police, whose actions have been condemned .(

Reuters: Henry Nicholls

)

Late on Saturday dozens of police officers marched into the crowd to shouts of "shame on you".

Scuffles broke out and officers dragged women away from the scene.

London's police commissioner, after coming under heavy criticism for the way police treated some protesters, on Sunday defended her officers' actions and said she didn't intend to resign.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, who is the first woman to head the force, said she was more determined than ever to lead the organisation.

She said she fully understood the strength of feeling in response to Ms Everard's alleged murder, but stressed that Saturday's vigil was an illegal gathering and officers had been put in a "very difficult position".

She said that as big crowds gathered, officers needed to act to counter the considerable risk to people's health.

Woman handcuffed at vigil fined 200 pounds

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London police clash with protesters during a vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard.

"Last night people were very, very upset. There was a great deal of emotion, completely understandably, and the police, being as they are operationally independent, will be having to explain that to the Home Secretary," Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, the Minister in charge of policing, described footage of the incident as "upsetting".

Her office said she had ordered an independent inquiry after an initial police report left some questions unanswered.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also said he was not satisfied with police chiefs' explanation of the events and officers' conduct must be examined.

An image of officers handcuffing a woman as she lay on the floor was widely shared and condemned on social media.

The woman, Patsy Stevenson, told LBC radio: "The main point that everyone was trying to get across when everything happened is that women don't feel safe, they don't feel safe walking down a street and that's the bare minimum we should feel the freedom to do."

Police put handcuffs on a woman looking at the camera.
Police used concerns around COVID protocol breaches to control the crowd at the vigil.(

Reuters: Hannah McKay

)

She said she was fined 200 pounds for breaching COVID regulations.

Ms Everard's alleged murder has resonated with women across the country, prompting thousands to share on social media their experiences of violence and sexual assaults perpetrated by men, and vividly describe the daily fear they feel.

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A steady flow of quiet mourners visited the site of the vigil on Sunday, placing flowers around a bandstand.

"I feel very angry that they think that they have the right to dictate how we mourn and how we react," 24-year old student Lilith Blackwell said at the bandstand.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball defended the officers' actions and said they were faced with a very difficult decision.

"Hundreds of people were packed tightly together, posing a very real risk of easily transmitting COVID-19," she said.

Everard's alleged murderer fronts court

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Play Video. Duration: 50 seconds
London police clash with mourners at a vigil for Sarah Everard

A police officer, who joined London's Metropolitan Police in 2018 and guarded foreign embassies before his arrest, has been charged with Ms Everard's murder and appeared in court on Saturday.

He did not enter a plea and will remain in custody ahead of his next court appearance on Tuesday (local time).

Wearing a grey tracksuit, Wayne Couzens, 48, spoke only to confirm his identity at London's Westminster Magistrates Court and remains in custody.

Police discovered Ms Everard's remains on Wednesday in woodland about 80 kilometres south-east of London.

sarah everard smiles and holds a medal.
Sarah Everard's family paid tribute to a "wonderful daughter and sister".(

Supplied: Metropolitan Police

)

The court heard that her body was found in a builder's refuse bag, and identified using dental records.

On Thursday, Ms Everard's family paid tribute to her, saying their "beautiful daughter Sarah was taken from us and we are appealing for any information that will help to solve this terrible crime".

"Sarah was bright and beautiful — a wonderful daughter and sister," the family said in a statement.

"She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he and his partner Carrie Symonds would light a candle in memory of Ms Everard on Saturday evening.

ABC/Reuters

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2021-03-14 18:57:54Z
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