March 13 (UPI) — Officials and activists across the political spectrum criticized London’s Metropolitan Police for their handling of a vigil for murdered 33-year-old Sarah Everard Saturday.
England’s Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called for London Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick’s resignation Saturday and Home Secretary Priti Patel has asked for a report regarding police response to the event.
The BBC reported police handcuffing and leading women away from a vigil for the woman, who disappeared March 3 and whose remains were found last week.
Reclaim These Streets and Feminists of London planned a virtual event at 6 p.m. on Saturday, livestreamed online to the Reclaim These Streets YouTube channel, and called on people across Britain to stand on their doorstep holding a candle or light on Saturday at 9.30 p.m., the time when Everard is thought to have gone missing.
Organizers had planned an in-person vigil, but police refused to grant a permit.
But hundreds of people streamed to the bandstand in Clapham Common carrying candles and flowers, with some saying they were more determined to come out after police refused the permit.
“The irony of it is so explicit – are you going to drag women off the street for protesting about a woman being dragged off the street?” Deborah Bestwick, 62, told The Guardian.
Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens has been charged in Everard’s death, adding fuel to protesters’ anger with police.
Police stood back at first, began pushing their way on to the bandstand while one woman was speaking and told the crowd to disperse although the event was largely peaceful, according to media accounts.
The BBC reported at least four people were arrested, and multiple outlets reported that protesters shouted “arrest your own” and “shame on you” as women were handcuffed and taken away to a police van.
Also Saturday, Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court and has been remanded in custody. He will next appear in court at the Old Bailey in London March 16.
Everard disappeared while walking in Clapham in south London, and her remains were found this week.