Hundreds of people in London defied coronavirus restrictions Saturday to pay their respects to Sarah Everard, the 33-year-old who disappeared while walking home and was found dead a week later. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)
London police commissioner rejects calls to resign following clashes at Sarah Everard vigil
Hundreds defied COVID-19 restrictions to gather and protest violence against women
The Associated Press · Mar 14, 2021
London's police commissioner on Sunday defended her officers' actions and said she didn't intend to resign, after coming under heavy criticism for the way police treated some protesters during a vigil for a woman whom one of the force's own officers is accused of murdering.
Hundreds defied coronavirus restrictions to gather and protest violence against women, but the event ended with clashes between police and those attending and many questioned whether the police force was too heavy-handed.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said scenes from Saturday's vigil in south London were "upsetting" and she is seeking a full report on what happened from the Metropolitan Police.
The capital's mayor, Sadiq Khan, said the police response was "at times neither appropriate nor proportionate."
Police were seen scuffling with some women at the event, and one woman was seen pinned to the ground by two officers. Video widely shared on social media showed a woman was pulled up from the ground by officers who then shoved her from the back. Several women were led away in handcuffs as other attendees chanted "Shame on you" at police. The force later said four people were arrested for violating public order and coronavirus regulations.
On Sunday, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, who is the first woman to head the force, said she was personally appalled by the attack on Everard and she was more determined than ever to lead the organization. She said she fully understood the strength of feeling in response to Everard's case, but stressed that Saturday's vigil was an unlawful gathering and officers had been put in a "very difficult position" trying to police a protest during a pandemic.
She said that as big crowds gathered, officers needed to act to counter the considerable risk to people's health. She added that she welcomed a review into her force's operations.
London police clash with attendees at Sarah Everard vigil
Many of those attending the vigil were already wary of police because a serving Metropolitan Police officer, Wayne Couzens, was charged with the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who vanished March 3 while walking home in London. Her body was found a week later. ...