The Met Police has released a statement after four people were arrested for public order offences and at least one police vehicle was damaged in Clapham Common last night (13th March). One female police officer is also reported to have been assaulted during the unrest.
‘Reclaim These Streets’ had intended on holding a peaceful vigil following the tragic death of Sarah Everard, who went missing while walking home across Clapham Common earlier this month. Ms Everard was later found dead in woodland in Kent.
During the unrest in Clapham Common, one female police officer was assaulted after allegedly being told that she was a ‘disgrace to females’ and a ‘murderer’.
Talking about the incident, one officer said:
‘I’ve just got back and am sat with a colleague who was punched today.
‘Was told she was a ‘disgrace to females’ and a ‘murderer’ today. She’s going to respond to 999 calls tomorrow. Without questioning it.
‘Yes, it didn’t go the way anyone wanted it to, but this is also wrong’.
Wayne Couzens, a member of the Met’s DPG, appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged with the abduction and murder of Ms Everard. Couzens was not on duty at the time of the alleged offences.
Couzens was treated twice in hospital for head injuries whilst he was being held for questioning.
Following the events last night in Clapham Common, Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said:
“May I start by extending my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sarah Everard. Across the Met we are still extremely saddened and shocked by the tragic circumstance of her disappearance and death.
“Earlier tonight, I joined the Commissioner in a candlelit vigil outside New Scotland Yard. I know many thousands of people up and down the nation also held similar vigils in Sarah’s name.
“I recognise that the decision by the organisers to cancel the Reclaim These Streets vigil in Clapham Common was deeply unwelcome news. Even so, given the ever present threat of Coronavirus, this was the right decision to make.
“Today, for over six hours hundreds of people came to lay flowers and pay their respects to Sarah in Clapham Common in a safe and lawful way.
“Around 6pm, more people began to gather close to the bandstand within the Common. Some started to make speeches from the bandstand. These speeches then attracted more people to gather closer together.
“At this point, officers on the ground were faced with a very difficult decision. 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.
“After speaking with officers, the vast majority of people quickly left. Four arrests have been made for public order offences and for breaches of the Health Protection Regulations.
“We absolutely did not want to be in a position where enforcement action was necessary. But we were placed in this position because of the overriding need to protect people’s safety.
There have been calls for the Met to release the body-worn camera footage of the events which led up to the unrest.
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