London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has come under fire for forcefully breaking up a peaceful vigil in honour of suspected murder victim Sarah Everard.
On Saturday, hundreds of people came to lay flowers at the Clapham Common bandstand in London, minutes away from where Miss Everard was believed to have been abducted. A London police officer, Wayne Couzens, has been charged with the kidnapping and murder of Miss Everand.
The vigil was originally organised by the Reclaim These Streets campaign, however, the group cancelled the event following warnings from the police that organisers could face £10,000 fines for breaching coronavirus restrictions on mass gatherings.
Despite the campaign cancelling the event, mourners decided to come on their own to the park. The event was peaceful until around 6 p.m. when police officers decided to begin arresting those in attendance.
In a Breitbart London exclusive video, people are heard shouting “shame on you” as police officers shoved women and men as they attempted to disperse the crowd under the pretext of enforcing lockdown regulations.
The mourners also shouted out “arrest your own”, in an apparent reference to the officer charged in connection with Everand’s death.
In a statement, the Reclaim These Streets movement said that the Metropolitan Police “failed tonight on all accounts,” adding that it is the responsibility of the police to “protect public order, public health and the right to protest”.
“We and women across the country are deeply saddened and angered by the scenes of police officers physically manhandling women at a vigil against male violence”.
Home Secretary Priti Patel also criticised the actions taken by the police, writing: “Some of the footage circulating online from the vigil in Clapham is upsetting. I have asked the Metropolitan Police for a full report on what happened. My thoughts remain with Sarah’s family and friends at this terrible time.”
Police Cite Corona Lockdown to Block Vigil for Woman Suspected Murdered by Police Officer https://t.co/f8p0h3Tp9b
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 12, 2021
The leftist Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, also expressed his dismay at the events on Saturday evening, writing: “The scenes from Clapham Common are unacceptable. The police have a responsibility to enforce Covid laws but from images I’ve seen it’s clear the response was at times neither appropriate nor proportionate. I’m [in] contact with the [Metropolitan Police] Commissioner [and] urgently seeking an explanation.”
Reclaim Party leader Laurence Fox, who is challenging the Labour’s Khan in the upcoming London mayoral elections, scoffed at Khan’s belated concerns over lockdown policing in the British capital.
“You’ve encouraged the politicisation of policing. You’ve stoked fires of race-based identitarianism in London. You take the knee to rioters who want to destroy our way of life, and you kneel on the backs of young girls at a vigil to a murdered woman. Resign. Do it now,” Fox responded.
No one should need a permit for a vigil.
Everyone has the right to peaceful assembly. Without it we are not free.
— Laurence Fox (@LozzaFox) March 13, 2021
Many on social media compared the relatively lax policing witnessed at Black Lives Matter protests in London last summer to the strict shutting down of the vigil on Saturday. The disparity in policing has previously been most evident when comparing the often violent BLM demonstrations to the largely peaceful anti-lockdown movement.
Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick admitted last year that the lax policing of unlawful Black Lives Matter rallies came out of fear of sparking “serious disorder” if police enforced the law against them.
Following the heavy-handed police tactics during Saturday’s vigil, there have been increased calls for the police chief’s resignation, with the hashtag ‘DickOut’ trending on Twitter in the United Kingdom.
In a statement following the vigil, Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said that “officers on the ground were faced with a very difficult decision. Hundreds of people were packed tightly together, posing a very real risk of easily transmitting Covid-19.”
“Police must act for people’s safety, this is the only responsible thing to do. The pandemic is not over and gatherings of people from right across London and beyond, are still not safe.
“We absolutely did not want to be in a position where enforcement action was necessary. But we were placed in this position because of the overriding need to protect people’s safety.”
A recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary criticised the police for being too soft on BLM and climate alarmist protest movement Extinction Rebellion (XR), warning officers on gestures like “taking the knee” and saying that their apparent lack of regard for public opinion could undermine the principle of “the British policing model [being] based on consent”.
Govt Regulator Rules Police Too Soft on BLM and XR, Warns Cops on ‘Taking the Knee’ https://t.co/R3bJK6fKiG
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 11, 2021
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