On Saturday 13th March, the Metropolitan Police clamped down aggressively on a peaceful and socially-distanced protest against violence towards women. In the words of Ed Davey, Mayoral Candidate Luisa Porritt and Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, "The Police should have been standing in solidarity with the women on Clapham Common last night, not disrupting this peaceful vigil in memory of Sarah Everard."
These events are the result of a failure of leadership within the Metropolitan Police. Responsibility for this must lie at the top and we call on the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, to resign her position immediately. This is also a decision for the Mayor, Sadiq Khan and the Home Secretary, Priti Patel as they are responsible for the Commissioner.
ReclaimTheseStreets attempted to organise a peaceful, socially distanced vigil. They engaged with the council and the police, but the police refused to approve the vigil, despite the court action ruling that protest was not unlawful. The events of tonight were avoidable, had the police engaged with the organisers.
Policing by consent requires the Met to work with the people and they have failed in this. The people of Waltham Forest have been failed by the actions of the Met whose purpose is to protect our freedoms. The sight of women exercising their freedom to gather, mourn and express solidarity being assaulted by police officers is a gross betrayal.
GLA candidate Kate Pothalingam said “The scenes from Clapham Common yesterday were extremely distressing and are a cause for serious concern. The heavy-handed police action showed a disappointing lack of sensitivity and was particularly inappropriate at a peaceful vigil for a young woman allegedly murdered by a police officer. Other vigils and demonstrations have taken place during the pandemic - why was this one handled so badly?”
[Image credit: Man vyi - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3624570]