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Under fire after vigil clashes, London police chief says she won’t resign

The case has sparked a national outcry and a heated debate on women’s safety. Organisers had planned an official vigil at Clapham Common, a park near where Everard was last seen alive, but were forced to cancel the event because of COVID-19 restrictions. A huge crowd turned up Saturday nonetheless.

Khan, London’s mayor, said on Sunday the police force had assured him the vigil would be “policed sensitively” but that this wasn’t the case.

Jamie Klingler, who organised the cancelled “Reclaim These Streets” event, blamed police for denying women their right to have a silent vigil in the first place. The force got the angry reaction Saturday because they refused to facilitate a peaceful rally, she alleged.

Posters are seen along the last known route as the hunt for missing woman Sarah Everard enters it’s fifth day in London, England.

Posters are seen along the last known route as the hunt for missing woman Sarah Everard enters it’s fifth day in London, England. Credit:Getty

“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,” Klingler said Sunday.

Patsy Stevenson, who was pictured pinned to the ground by two officers during Saturday’s clashes, said she was considering whether to challenge the £200 ($358) fine she received.

“We were there to remember Sarah, we all felt deeply saddened and still do that it happened, so I brought a candle with me but unfortunately wasn’t even able to light it to put it down because the police turned up and barged their way through,” she told LBC radio.

Emotions were still running high Sunday, as several hundred demonstrators gathered outside London police headquarters. The crowds, which were peaceful, then marched to Parliament to continue their protest.

This court artist sketch shows serving police constable Wayne Couzens, left, appearing in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.

This court artist sketch shows serving police constable Wayne Couzens, left, appearing in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.Credit:PA

Couzens, 48, appeared in court Saturday for the first time. He was remanded in custody and has another appearance scheduled Tuesday at London’s Central Criminal Court.

The Metropolitan Police has said it is “deeply disturbing” that one of its own is a suspect in the case. The force said Couzens joined its ranks in 2018 and most recently served in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command, an armed unit responsible for guarding embassies in the capital and Parliament.

Everard was last seen walking home from a friend’s apartment in south London at about 10.30pm on March 3. Her body was found hidden in an area of woodland in Kent, more than 80 km southeast of London, on Wednesday. A post-mortem examination was underway, police said Friday.

AP

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