Minggu, 14 Maret 2021

UK police slammed after clashing with mourners at Sarah Everard vigil -

An emotional vigil in honour of murder victim Sarah Everard turned violent over the weekend when police clashed with mourners, leading to arrests.

The gathering was held to commemorate the life of the 33-year-old, who disappeared on March 3 while walking home from a friend’s house in London at 9.30pm.

The marketing executive’s body was discovered in woodland in Kent several days later, and police officer and father-of-two Wayne Couzens, 48, has since been charged with her kidnap and murder.

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The horrific crime has sent shockwaves across the UK and the globe – however, a vigil which was organised over the weekend and attended by thousands of mourners was deemed to be in breach of COVID-19 restrictions, with police swarming the gathering and arresting several women at the scene.

Those present filmed and photographed the police response, with harrowing images showing women scuffling with officers and being pinned to the ground, handcuffed and dragged away.

Since then, the police response to the peaceful event has been slammed by many, including London mayor Sadiq Khan, who labelled the actions “completely unacceptable”.

“I received assurances from the Metropolitan Police last week that the vigil would be policed safely, In my view, this was not the case,” he said in a statement, adding he was demanding a “full investigation of events”.

RELATED: Human remains found in woods belong to missing Sarah Everard

The Fire Brigades Union also responded to the growing outrage, saying in a statement on Twitter: “We utterly condemn the violence meted out by the Metropolitan Police”.

“These grotesque displays have no place in our society,” the statement reads.

“We send solidarity to the family and friends of Sarah Everard and all those who want to end violence against women and girls.”

A rally protesting the police response to the initial vigil was held the following day outside Metropolitan Police Service headquarters, with hundreds attending.

However, commissioner Cressida Dick is resisting calls to resign over the scandal and doubled down on the police crackdown, insisting that “unlawful gatherings are unlawful gatherings”.

“We’re still in a pandemic, unlawful gatherings are unlawful gatherings, officers have to take action if people are putting themselves massively at risk,” she told local media this weekend, according to The Mirror.

“It’s worth saying, of course, I fully understand the strength of feeling … I understand why so many people wanted to come and pay their respects and make a statement about this.

“Indeed, if it had been lawful, I’d have been there, I’d have been at a vigil. And six hours of yesterday was really calm and peaceful, very few police officers around, respectful, people laying flowers, not gathering, and a vigil that did not breach the regulations.”

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One especially haunting photo of the police’s response – depicting mourner Patsy Stevenson pinned to the crowd with her hands cuffed behind her back as a large group of officers hold her down – has since gone viral, becoming a symbol of the authoritarian response to the tragedy.

It has been shared on social media thousands of times, with celebrity chef Nigella Lawson among those who retweeted the image.

Ms Stevenson, who was slapped with a £200 ($A358) fine for breaching coronavirus rules, told radio station LBC she “wasn’t surprised” by the actions of police.

However, she added she “didn’t expect to be thrown to the ground and handcuffed.”

She insisted she hadn’t thrown any objects or disrespected police during the vigil, and said she wouldn’t hesitate to attend future rallies.

“Women don’t feel safe and that’s the bare minimum we should feel the freedom to do,” she said.

“I think the main point is trying to get something changed within the system to educate people on how we can make women feel safe and free to do what they want to do and live a normal life because there are so many things we’re unable to do without fear.”

Ms Everard’s shattered family have paid tribute to the young woman in a public statement, and thanked the public for their support.

“Sarah was bright and beautiful – a wonderful daughter and sister. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable. She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour. She was strong and principled and a shining example to us all. We are very proud of her and she brought so much joy to our lives,” the statement reads.

“We would like to thank our friends and family for all their support during this awful time and we would especially like to thank Sarah’s friends who are working tirelessly to help. We are so grateful to the police and would like to thank them for all they are doing. We are now pleading for additional help from the public.

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2021-03-14 20:29:04Z

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