Officers 'elbowed people in faces' at Sarah Everard vigil

The night police lost control: Officers shoved women, pinned protestors to the ground and ‘elbowed people in faces’ at vigil for murdered marketing executive Sarah Everard, 33

  • Crowd of around 1,500 people gathered at Clapham Common in south London 
  • They attended to remember  33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard
  • But scuffles broke out as police surrounded a bandstand covered in flowers
  • Officers blasted for using heavy-handed tactics critics dubbed ‘quasi military’ 
  • Footage shows rows of officers yelling ‘move back’ as they shove protesters
  • Clips showed demonstrators being hauled off by police officers amid screams

Met Police officers shoved women, pinned protestors to the ground and ‘elbowed people in their faces’ at a vigil to mourn the death of Sarah Everard, onlookers claim.

A crowd of around 1,500 people gathered at Clapham Common in south London to remember the 33-year-old marketing executive.

But scuffles broke out as police surrounded a bandstand covered in flowers left in tribute.

Officers have been blasted for using heavy-handed tactics critics dubbed ‘quasi military’.

Horrifying footage taken on the night shows a row of mask-wearing police officers yelling ‘move back’ as they shove protesters away.

Other clips showed demonstrators being hauled off by police officers as chilling screams ring out through the crowd.

Met Police officers shoved women, pinned protestors to the ground and ‘elbowed people in their faces’ at a vigil to mourn the death of Sarah Everard, onlookers claim. Pictured: Stark images showed demonstrator Patsy Stevenson being held on the floor by police last night

A crowd of around 1,500 people gathered at Clapham Common in south London to remember the 33-year-old marketing executive. Pictured: Police arresting a demonstrator

Scuffles broke out as police surrounded a bandstand covered in flowers left in tribute. Pictured: Police arresting a demonstrator

 Crowds of mourners started chanting ‘arrest your own’ and ‘shame on you’ as scenes quickly turned violent. Pictured: A woman being arrested

Police detained a woman as people gathered at a memorial site in Clapham Common last night

Police were seen clashing with demonstrators in Clapham Common during the Sarah Everard vigil

Police are seen arresting a women during clashes with demonstrators at a Sarah Everard vigil in London

Demonstrators are seen clashing with  police officers in Clapham Common last night during a vigil

Officers are seen grabbing demonstrators who desperately cling onto railings where floral tributes and messages were laid.  

Some women reach their arms out to fellow protesters to stop them being taken, but are hauled away behind a line of uniform-clad police.

Witnesses said women were ‘elbowed in the face’ by police for helping others off the ground – with one reportedly left bleeding.

One attendee claimed that, when confronted about elbowing a girl, an officer ‘smirked’ and said ‘that’s a shame innit’.

Tensions were sparked when dozens of police officers moved in on the bandstand at the vigil in a bid to block access to speakers.

Crowds of mourners started chanting ‘arrest your own’ and ‘shame on you’ as scenes quickly turned violent. 

A detained person sits in a police vehicle as people gathered in Clapham last night

Officers have been blasted for using heavy-handed tactics critics dubbed ‘quasi military’. Pictured: Police arresting a demonstrator


Clips showed demonstrators being hauled off by police officers (one pictured) as horrifying screams ring out through the crowd

Londoners were mourning the death of Ms Everard after police confirmed human remains found in Kent belonged to her – and serving police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, was charged with her kidnap and murder.  

Protest movement Reclaim These Streets had organised the vigil before being forced to cancel following consultation with the Metropolitan Police, which said it would be in breach in coronavirus restrictions.

After the clashes, organiser Jamie Klingler said the force’s handling of events was a sign of the ‘systemic ignoring and oppressing of women’. 

Stark images showed demonstrator Patsy Stevenson being held on the floor by police last night. 

Speaking today, Ms Stevenson said she attended the gathering in Clapham Common in support of women who cannot walk down the street by themselves ‘because of the fear of men’.  

She said she was arrested ‘for standing there, I wasn’t doing anything, they threw me to the floor’. 

The vigil was planned for Saturday in memory of marketing executive Sarah Everard, who disappeared while walking home to Brixton on March 3

A sketch of Wayne Couzens, 48, a firearms officer from Scotland Yard’s elite Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, appearing in court this morning

Witnesses said women were ‘elbowed in the face’ by police for helping others off the ground – with one reportedly left bleeding. Pictured: Police at the scene

One attendee claimed that, when confronted about elbowing a girl, the officer ‘smirked’ and said ‘that’s a shame innit’. Pictured: Police at the scene

When asked what demonstrators should do next, she said ‘bigger protest’.   

Victims Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC said there was no real prospect of police successfully intervening in the crowd in Clapham on Saturday night, describing the circling of the bandstand as ‘quasi military’. 

She said: ‘To push people away seems to me to be a dreadful piece of misjudgment. Are they really improving the chances of Covid not spreading by putting their knees in the middle of the back of young women, and putting their hands in handcuffs? It didn’t seem to me to be the right thing to do.’  

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she is seeking a ‘full report’ on events, describing footage from the vigil as ‘upsetting’.

Speaking today, Ms Stevenson (pictured during her arrest) said she attended the gathering in Clapham Common in support of women who cannot walk down the street by themselves ‘because of the fear of men’

People attend a vigil by a band stand in Clapham Common after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Sarah Everard was officially cancelled in London

Reclaim These Streets organiser Jamie Klingler said after the clashes: ‘I think we were shocked and really, really sad and to see videos of policemen handling women at a vigil about violence against women by men… I think it was painful and pretty triggering to see.’ Pictured: Police at the scene

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called on the Commissioner to ‘consider’ her leadership of the force, adding: ‘Cressida Dick has lost the confidence of the millions of women in London and should resign.’ 

But Labour has not called for Dame Cressida to resign, with shadow domestic violence minister Jess Phillips saying: ‘The reality is if Cressida Dick stays or goes (it) doesn’t make women in this country more safe, and that’s what I want to talk about.’

She said there were ‘so many missed opportunities throughout the day for police to work with organisers to create a completely safe vigil so that people could go and have a moment of sorrow and a moment of resistance’.

Conservative MP for Folkestone & Hythe Damian Collins said: ‘Appalling scenes in Clapham last night of aggressive police action at the vigil for Sarah Everard & a justificatory statement from the Met using the language of the abuser to its victims over the years – it’s your fault, you made us do it. They need to be held to account for this.’ 


Londoners were mourning the death of Ms Everard after police confirmed human remains found in Kent belonged to her – and serving police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, was charged with her kidnap and murder. Pictured: Police during the clashes

Officers pinned women to the ground to handcuff them – and London Mayor Sadiq Khan later slammed the police’s ‘unacceptable’ response as ‘neither appropriate nor proportionate’. He added that he was in contact with Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick. Pictured: Police at the vigil

In the early hours of Sunday, Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said police were put into a position ‘where enforcement action was necessary’. Pictured: Police and demonstrators clash at the scene

A woman is seen being hauled away by uniformed police officers in Clapham today. She was attending the Sarah Everard vigil


Crowds of people clashed with police officers last night. Some people attending the vigil did not wear masks

Reclaim These Streets organiser Jamie Klingler said after the clashes: ‘I think we were shocked and really, really sad and to see videos of policemen handling women at a vigil about violence against women by men… I think it was painful and pretty triggering to see.’

Earlier yesterday, during more peaceful scenes, a maskless Duchess of Cambridge made a brief and unannounced visit to Clapham Common to lay daffodils in tribute to Miss Everard. 

Kensington Palace said Kate Middleton ‘remembers what it was like to walk around London at night before she was married’ and ‘wanted to pay her respects to the family and to Sarah’.

The visit came after a planned vigil was cancelled, with organisers citing the police’s ‘lack of constructive engagement’ to help make it Covid secure. Instead, officers gathered in force to break up the growing crowds

Safeguarding minister Victoria Atkins told Sky that the majority of women on Clapham Common had a ‘peaceful experience’. But she added: ‘These scenes we have seen later on in the day and in the evening are very upsetting. I take it seriously and the Home Secretary takes it seriously.’

Asked about a photograph showing a woman being pinned to the ground by a police officer she added: ‘That photograph is something that the police will have to explain in their report to the Home Secretary.

Kensington Palace said Kate (pictured) ‘wanted to pay her respects to the family and to Sarah’, reported Sky. ‘She remembers what is was like to walk around London at night before she was married,’ the palace added

Well-wishers gather beside floral tributes to honour murder victim Sarah Everard at the bandstand on Clapham Common in south London on March 14

Jess Phillips on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr Show, where she called for better funding and resources for education to prevent violence against women

‘She was only walking home’: Floral tributes are placed at the bandstand in Clapham Common on Sunday, March 14, 2021, in memory of Sarah Everard

‘Any policing of large event is difficult at the best of times, but we are in a pandemic with all the rules that flow from that.’

Ms Atkins was asked on Sky News if Cressida Dick should resign. She said: ‘I really want to support the Home Secretary in her request to have a report from Cressida. The police have got a tough job in policing the coronavirus pandemic more generally at the moment.

‘I think this morning, given how difficult last night was, after what has been an incredibly upsetting week, I’m keen we don’t pre-empt that report and that we give the Met Commissioner the chance to explain what happened last night.’  

Officers pinned women to the ground to handcuff them – and London Mayor Sadiq Khan later slammed the police’s ‘unacceptable’ response as ‘neither appropriate nor proportionate’. He added that he was in contact with Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.  

Calls for Cressida Dick to resign have been growing after police manhandled screaming women in extraordinary clashes with demonstrators at a vigil to mourn the death of Sarah Everard (pictured: Cressida Dick urging mourners not to attend the vigil)

A woman reacts as she mourns at a memorial site at the Clapham Common Bandstand, following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, in London, Britain March 14

People mourn at a memorial site at the Clapham Common Bandstand, following the death of Sarah Everard

A fundraiser set up by Reclaim These Streets for women’s charitable causes passed its target of £320,000 on Saturday evening, and now has more than £470,000 in donations.

In the early hours of Sunday, Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said police were put into a position ‘where enforcement action was necessary’. She said: ‘Hundreds of people were packed tightly together, posing a very real risk of easily transmitting Covid-19.

‘Police must act for people’s safety, this is the only responsible thing to do. The pandemic is not over and gatherings of people from right across London and beyond, are still not safe.

‘Those who gathered were spoken to by officers on a number of occasions and over an extended period of time. We repeatedly encouraged those who were there to comply with the law and leave. Regrettably, a small minority of people began chanting at officers, pushing and throwing items.’

The force said it will conduct an inquiry into what happened and ‘accepts the actions of our officers have been questioned’ but added officers wanted to ‘act to ensure public safety’.

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