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Mourners terrorised by police at vigil for Sarah Everard

A peaceful vigil in remembrance of a victim of violence against women ends in violence against women at the hands of the Met Police.

An image from a camera doorbell taken at 9.30pm on the 3rd of March in Clapham marks the last time Sarah Everard was seen alive. A week later, human remains were found in a large builder’s bag in the woodlands of Kent. Shortly after, the remains were identified as the 33-year-old marketing executive. What exactly happened after Sarah left her friend’s house in Clapham to make the 50-minute journey to her home in Brixton is yet unclear, but Met Police officer and Kent resident PC Wayne Couzens has been charged with kidnap and murder and remanded into custody awaiting trial.

Following outpourings of heartbreak, outrage and disbelief that not only could a ‘bright and beautiful’ young woman disappear from the streets of our capital, but that an officer paid to protect the public could be involved in such a heinous crime, a vigil for Sarah was held on Clapham Common on Saturday 13th March. Although the official vigil organised by Reclaim These Streets was cancelled, many women still gathered on the Common to pay their respects to Sarah. What began as a peaceful moment of reflection and solidarity between women, quickly descended into chaos because of the arrival and violence of the police.

Given the involvement of their colleague in the murder, its hugely disrespectful and insensitive for any police officers to have been present at the vigil in any capacity. The scenes of brutality and violence against women that emerged on Saturday night highlights the overall police opinion. The actions of the police at Clapham Common did nothing to keep people safe and have only exacerbated the already fraying trust between UK citizens and the country’s police force. As the crowds were heard chanting, ‘SHAME ON YOU’.

Following the events of Saturday night, many politicians, including the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, have asked the Met Police to provide an explanation, and the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has requested a full report. No apology. What about holding the police accountable for their actions and reminding them that everything they do should be in the public interest? Have they forgotten their oath or why taxpayers pay them - to serve and protect the public?

The actions of Wayne Couzens and the police officers present on Saturday night are yet more examples to add to an ever-growing list of police misconduct, corruption and criminality (click here for the 2020 file on police corruption).

I wasn’t expecting to start the Outlaw news series on such a devastating note, but it’s unsurprising considering the reality of the UK in 2021. Unfortunately, Sarah is not the first citizen to be murdered at the hands of the UK police (click here for a list). All we can hope for is that she’s the last.

Outlaw’s thoughts remain with Sarah’s family and friends at this time. We will not stand for such behaviour from those who are paid to protect and serve us and will continue the fight against injustice in the UK.

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