26th Jun, 2022

Virtual and doorstep candlelit vigils for Sarah Everard held across Coventry after 'in-person' event cancelled

Editorial Correspondent 15th Mar, 2021 Updated: 15th Mar, 2021

AFTER ‘in-person’ vigils in memory of Sarah Everard planned for Coventry and Birmingham were cancelled, many people chose instead to take part in virtual and at-home doorstep candlelit vigils, report West Midlands Police.

Women’s group, Reclaim the Streets, called for a nationwide candlelit vigil at 9.30pm on Saturday (March 13) – the time when the 33-year-old marketing executive is thought to have gone missing on March 3.

A number of Covid-secure ‘in person’ vigils were proposed to take place in London and 31 UK locations as a tribute to Ms Everard, and all women affected by and lost to violence.

A statement from West Midlands Police yesterday (Sunday March 14) said: “A number of vigils were proposed, including in Birmingham and Coventry, following the tragic murder of Sarah Everard. There was messaging circulating on social media promoting vigils in Coventry’s Broadgate and Victoria Square, Birmingham for Saturday, March 13 and we worked closely with the event organisers who both decided to cancel these events.

“A small number of people decided to attend briefly to pay their respects and make a statement on the issues of women’s safety. These people were socially distanced and wearing face masks.

“Our policing presence was low-key, focusing on the four E approach, where we seek to explain, engage and encourage and only use enforcement as a last resort. We did not have to take any enforcement action last night.

“We understand the strength of feeling and people’s desire to come together to mourn and show respect to Sarah Everard as well as to make a statement and organise on the issue of women’s safety.

“We know many people took part in online events as well as a doorstep vigils and we thank those who chose to stand together over this important matter in a Covid-safe way.

“We will continue to balance the desire for people to express their feelings against the very real risks of the spread of this deadly virus.”

There has been widespread anger over the Metropolitan Police’s response to an in-person vigil at Clapham Common in London on Saturday evening. Student Patsy Stevenson, one of the women arrested and fined £200 for attending the event, told Good Morning Britain on ITV this morning: “I still don’t know why I was pushed to the ground so forcefully.”

Photographs of Ms Stevenson as she was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by officers, went viral. She told GMB said she was not an activist nor protestor and had never been so “terrified”.” I was only there to lay a candle down. I did not expect that to happen.”

Boris Johnson has said he is “deeply concerned” by footage from Saturday’s gathering, attended by the Duchess of Cambridge earlier in the day.

Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has dismissed calls to resign and defended the force’s actions. She will join the prime minister, who will chair a meeting of the crime and justice taskforce later today (Monday December 15) to discuss what further action is needed to make streets safer for women.

Serving police constable Wayne Couzens, 48, has been remanded in custody after he appeared at at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday charged with the kidnap and murder of Ms Everard.  He is next due to appear at the Old Bailey tomorrow (Tuesday March 16).

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