London (AP) – Even the British Duchess Kate (39) on Saturday insisted on laying flowers at the makeshift memorial to Sarah Everard who was kidnapped and murdered on her way home.
Hours later, ugly scenes erupted as police forcibly dragged women attending vigils from the bandstand in South London’s Clapham Common Park.
Scotland Yard is now facing severe criticism. Ironically, many women in Britain feel abandoned by the state and society on British Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day week.
The lifeless body of 33-year-old Everard, previously reported missing, was not identified until Friday in a wooded area in Kent. This turned the fear of their fate into a sad certainty. She was last seen on March 3 near Clapham Common on her way home from a friend after dark. A 48-year-old police officer is suspected of kidnapping and killing her.
The case sparked a nationwide outrage against harassment and violence against women. It’s not just about extreme cases like Sarah Everard’s, but about everyday attacks and the fear that is a constant companion for women.
Hundreds of people gathered at the bandstand on Saturday evening despite warnings of Corona violations. An official wake-up call for the “Reclaim this Streets” initiative (for example: Reclaim this streets) was withdrawn by organizers after talks with police about an implementation in accordance with the Corona measures had failed. But many were not deterred.
Videos of the police operation on Saturday evening showed police officers forcibly taking several women away. A woman was pushed to the ground. “The officials on the ground faced a very difficult decision,” a Scotland Yard spokeswoman later justified the operation, in which there were four arrests. People were close together in the evening and the chance of transmission of the corona virus was very high. There were no worries during the day when many people – like Kate – laid flowers on the makeshift memorial.
Reclaim this Streets said women across the country were “deeply saddened and angry at the scenes of police overwhelming women during a vigil against male violence.” They blamed the agents for the escalation. The vigil could have been conducted as planned with the help of flight attendants under the Corona rules. But the police have blocked that, the report said.
On Twitter, many users also referred to an exuberant party of football fans a week ago in Glasgow, Scotland. Thousands of people celebrated the Glasgow Rangers’ Scottish championships in the streets of the city. The police did not intervene then.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the scenes of the police operation “unacceptable”. Police have a responsibility to enforce the Corona measures, but the photos make it clear that the officials’ response was “neither appropriate nor proportionate,” the Labor politician said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel described the footage as partially disturbing. You have requested a “full report” on the events from Scotland Yard. But on Monday, a bill from the conservative politician should go into parliament in second reading, giving police officers more options to curtail protests.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats in the British Parliament, Ed Davey, called on London Police Chief Cressida Dick to step down. The scenes of the police operation are an embarrassment to the Metropolitan Police, Davey said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, on Sunday morning, the ‘Reclaim this Streets’ movement received nearly £ 500,000 (about £ 582,000) in donations. Originally, it was meant to pay fines that the organizers should have expected if they performed the vigil as planned.
Jamie Klingler, one of the organizers of “Reclaim these Streets,” told the UK news agency PA that it felt like you were in the middle of a tidal wave with half the population (addressed to the men) saying, “This is your problem, you have to get it under control now, we are no longer taking it. “