Activists condemn police pushback on Sarah Everard vigil

Activists condemn police pushback on Sarah Everard vigil”

Speaking outside New Scotland Yard on Friday, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave paid tribute to Ms Everard's family and friends for their "fortitude and forbearance through what can only have been the most intensely hard few days".

The fate of Sarah Everard is all the more shocking because the suspect charged Friday with abducting and killing her is a United Kingdom police officer whose job was protecting politicians and diplomats.

Couzens, a member of the force's diplomatic protection unit, was charged on Friday with the murder that has shocked the country and raised the issue of women's safety.

Everard, was a 33-year-old marketing executive, who disappeared while walking home from her friend's house in the Brixton area, South London March 3.

Yesterday, Couzens was taken to hospital for the second time in 48 hours for treatment on a fresh head injury sustained in custody.

He joined the Met, Britain's biggest police force, in September 2018 and was posted to a response team covering parts of southeast London.

In the wake of her disappearance and killing, many women have taken to social media to share their own experiences of being threatened or attacked while walking outside.

On the night of Everard's disappearance, she is believed to have walked through Clapham Common, a large triangular park in the London borough of Wandsworth.

"But I completely understand that despite this, women in London and the wider public, particularly those in the area where Sarah went missing, will be anxious and may well be feeling scared", she said.

Cllr Karen Constantine
Cllr Karen Constantine

In a grim development, a serving Metropolitan police officer was arrested on Tuesday (March 9), and detained on suspicion of Everard's murder.

However, police have been criticised by organisers of a planned "Reclaim These Streets" vigil on Saturday near to where Ms Everard was last seen, who said officers had warned that it would be unlawful under current Covid-19 restrictions.

"I would like at this stage to pay tribute to Sarah's family for their fortitude and forbearance through what can only have been the most intensely hard few days, our thoughts remain with him as this matter progresses", he said.

Jess Phillips, Labour's shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, read out in the House of Commons the names of all 118 women murdered by men in the United Kingdom a year ago.

A woman in her 30s was also arrested on suspicion of assisting Couzens and will face court in April.

Ms Everard's body, found inside a builder's bag in Kent, was identified through the use of dental records, the court also heard.

Commissioner Dick sought to reassure women, saying it was "incredibly rare" for a woman to be abducted from the streets. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable.

The Reclaim These Streets organizers want to hold a socially distanced gathering Saturday on Clapham Common, an open space on the route of Everard's walk home.

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