Policing at Sarah Everard Vigil in London Faces Official Scrutiny

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LONDON — The mayor of London and the British cupboard minister liable for policing known as Sunday for an unbiased inquiry into how town’s principal police drive broke up a vigil for Sarah Everard, the 33-year-old advertising and marketing government whose killing has sparked a reckoning over violence towards ladies.

The demand for an investigation got here after photographs of officers clashing with ladies on the occasion prompted a widespread outcry.

The mayor, Sadiq Khan, mentioned that “scenes arising from the policing of the vigil,” which had been banned beneath coronavirus restrictions, “had been utterly unacceptable,” and that he was “not glad” with explanations from the 2 high officers within the drive, the Metropolitan Police.

A spokesman for the Residence Workplace, the federal government division that oversees policing, confirmed on Sunday that Priti Patel, the house secretary, had requested the Inspectorate of Constabulary, a authorities physique that assesses police forces, for a report into what occurred on the vigil.

Mr. Khan mentioned in a press release that he had sought a full inquiry from the identical physique, and that he was additionally asking one other regulator, the Unbiased Workplace for Police Conduct, to analyze the actions of officers on the vigil.

The calls for got here as lots of of individuals marched in central London on Sunday towards police brutality and a invoice to offer the police extra powers to manage protests.

Ladies’s rights activists and lawmakers known as the police actions heavy-handed and significantly upsetting on condition that the rally was staged to decry violence towards ladies — and {that a} Metropolitan Police officer has been charged with kidnapping and murdering Ms. Everard. She disappeared whereas strolling residence from a good friend’s home in Clapham on March 3.

Dame Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, mentioned Sunday that she welcomed an unbiased assessment.

Commissioner Dick mentioned the primary six hours of the vigil had been “calm and peaceable,” with few officers round. However after a giant crowd gathered, she mentioned, officers felt it had grow to be an “illegal gathering, which poses a substantial danger to folks’s well being.”

Activists had initially known as folks to attend the vigil, at Clapham Widespread in South London, on Saturday night close to the place Ms. Everard was final seen. However the police warned that the gathering was illegal, although folks congregated within the park anyway.

As night fell, the vigil grew right into a protest over violence towards ladies, and the police used drive to attempt disperse some folks.

Among the many 4 folks arrested was a 28-year-old protester, Patsy Stevenson. Photographs of her being pinned to the bottom by a number of cops quickly went viral.

“This incident is a chance to constructively begin a dialogue and a motion for change inside society in order that no ladies feels worry strolling down the road,” Ms. Stevenson mentioned in an interview.

She known as on protesters to collect Monday at Parliament Sq..

For a lot of, Ms. Stevenson’s therapy by the hands of the police resonated deeply.

Jamie Klingler, an organizer of the vigil, known as the picture of “a person on her again at a violence towards ladies vigil” horrific and “very upsetting.”

Mayor Khan mentioned that the police had assured him final week that the vigil could be dealt with with sensitivity. He mentioned he had met Sunday with Commissioner Dick, and her deputy, Stephen Home, to demand a proof.

“I’m not glad with the reason they’ve offered,” the mayor mentioned.

In a press release in a single day, Helen Ball, an assistant commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, mentioned that officers on the bottom had been “confronted with a tough choice” within the night after lots of of individuals “packed tightly collectively, posing a really actual danger of simply transmitting Covid-19.”

“Police should act for folks’s security,” she mentioned. “That is the one accountable factor to do. The pandemic will not be over, and gatherings of individuals from proper throughout London and past are nonetheless not secure.”

Nonetheless, she mentioned, “We settle for that the actions of our officers have been questioned.”

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