Flowers at Clapham Bandstand for Sarah Everard

Met Police officers claim vigil for murdered Sarah Everard turned into an ‘anti-police’ protest as 6 people are charged

Six people are due before Westminster Magistrates’ Court accused of gathering when London was in Tier 4 restrictions.

The Met Police have now charged six people from London and Manchester for attending the vigil of Sarah Everard on Clapham Common on 13 March 2021. 

Accounts from police officers, published in The Evening Standard, state they believed it had become an “anti-police protest”. 

Everard was lured into a police car while walking home from a friend’s house on 3 March 2021 by then serving Met police officer Wayne Couzens, who later raped and murdered the 33-year-old. Couzens is now in jail for the abduction, rape and murder of Everard but is appealing his whole life sentence

A vigil in Everard’s memory was planned by Reclaim These Streets, an organisation aiming to make the streets safe for women, but it was later called off after the police said it would be in breach of lockdown rules. 

That didn’t stop hundreds of people flocking to Clapham Common to peacefully pay tribute to Everard and other women who have suffered violence by men across the UK

Now, six attendees have been charged for allegedly breaking Covid-19 lockdown rules while attending the vigil with police claiming they feared being attacked. In the witness statement of one officer, he said the crowd chanted at them to “Go away murderers, arrest your own.”

This new information has been met with anger from women. Twitter user Shanine wrote: “This is a ridiculous attempt at divide and rule. Of course it was an anti-police protest: a police officer had disappeared and killed a woman on her way home…”

Sarah Everard vigil
Hundreds showed up to Clapham Common following the death of Sarah Everard

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Sarah Everard vigil

Dania Al-Obeid, aged 27, from Stratford; Vivien Hohmann, aged 20, from Clapham; Ben Wheeler, aged 21, from Kennington and Kevin Godin-Prior, aged 68, from Manchester all face a charge of participating in a gathering of more than two people in a public outdoor place in a Tier 4 area, according to the BBC. Now two other women, Jade Spence, aged 33 from Lambeth, and Jenny Edmunds, aged 32, from Lewisham, have also been charged.

The charges come after a Metropolitan Police appeal against a ruling that found the police breached the rights of the organisers of the vigil for Everard were rejected by the High Court.

Three women stood in front of Clapham Common bandstand
Throughout the day, people laid flowers and lit candles to pay their respects.

Back in March 2021, Reclaim These Streets’ co-founders – Jessica Leigh, Anna Birley, Henna Shah and Jamie Klingler – were all threatened with arrest and a £10,000 fine when they tried to organise a socially distanced event on Clapham Common. Despite the official gathering being called off in advance, a spontaneous vigil and protest took place instead, where multiple people were arrested.

A High Court judge later ruled that the Met’s decision-making ahead of the vigil was “misinformed”, “misleading” and “flawed at every single step of the process”. The Met then appealed the decision but that appeal was also rejected by a High Court judge. 

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Three women stood holding candles at the Reclaim These Streets vigil
As night fell at the vigil, people lit candles and shone phone torches as part of their display of support.

Jo Maugham, barrister and director of the @GoodLawProject tweeted: “Strong with the weak; weak with the strong” in reaction to the BBC report about the four charges.

Labour MP for Streatham, Bell Ribeiro-Addy tweeted: “The Met didn’t fine Boris Johnson for a party held at the height of a lockdown. 

But they’re prosecuting 4 people who attended a socially distanced vigil to remember a woman kidnapped & killed by one of their own.

And they wonder why confidence in policing is at an all-time low.”

The four people are now due to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court. 

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Images: Marita Upeniece/Stylist