Sarah Everard protest: Anti-police graffiti daubed on Battle of Britain memorial

A memorial commemorating the Battle of Britain was daubed with graffiti during last night’s anti-police protests in Westminster.

The letters ACAB – All Cops Are B******s – were scrawled above a list honoring the airmen who died in the Second World War battle. 

The word ‘racist’ was also written under Winston Churchill’s immortal remarks following the fighting that ‘never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed, by so many, to so few.’  

The protests were sparked by the murder of Sarah Everard and are being led by a feminist group accused of ‘hijacking’ her death.

Sisters Uncut has accused the Met of being ‘drunk on power’ and is urging supporters to break lockdown for the fourth night in a row and join them in Parliament Square.

Hundreds are expected again to show dissent over Miss Everard’s death – but critics including some of her friends have claimed that it has been ‘hijacked’ by groups led by radical left-wing feminists.

The letters ACAB - All Cops Are B******s - were scrawled above a list honouring the airmen who died in the Second World War battle

The letters ACAB - All Cops Are B******s - were scrawled above a list honouring the airmen who died in the Second World War battle

The letters ACAB – All Cops Are B******s – were scrawled above a list honouring the airmen who died in the Second World War battle

The protests were sparked by the murder of Sarah Everard and are being led by a feminist group accused of 'hijacking' her death

The protests were sparked by the murder of Sarah Everard and are being led by a feminist group accused of 'hijacking' her death

The protests were sparked by the murder of Sarah Everard and are being led by a feminist group accused of ‘hijacking’ her death

Tens of thousands of outraged women gathered on Clapham Common on Saturday night to express their outrage at the death of Sarah Everard, but later in the night a hard core of protesters clashed with police.

The Met has been condemned for its response after images of male police officers manhandling female protesters against male violence were broadcast around the world. 

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said that 90 per cent of those at the Clapham Common vigil on Saturday had walked away before it became a rally in breach of lockdown.

Mr Marsh said the peaceful vigil had been infiltrated by Antifa, BLM and Extinction Rebellion demonstrators – and officers had been punched, spat at and abused at the event.

‘Twenty-six of my colleagues were abused, spat at or punched,’ Mr Marsh told The Telegraph. ‘One black female officer was racially abused.  

One of Sarah Everard‘s friends has also criticised the way her death has been ‘politicised’. 

Helena Edwards wrote: ‘Her abduction and murder is not, in my opinion, a symptom of a sexist, dangerous society. When something awful like this happens there is a rush to look for reasons and apportion blame.

‘If the suspect police officer in custody is eventually tried and found guilty of her murder, then I will hold him alone responsible. I will not be blaming ”men” or ”the police” for the actions of one individual.’

Sisters Uncut found fame for stunts including jumping on the red carpet at the West End premiere of the movie 'Suffragette' starring Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter

Sisters Uncut found fame for stunts including jumping on the red carpet at the West End premiere of the movie 'Suffragette' starring Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter

Sisters Uncut found fame for stunts including jumping on the red carpet at the West End premiere of the movie ‘Suffragette’ starring Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter

Later Sisters Uncut dyed the Trafalgar Square fountain red. The group say the police are institutionally violent against women and cannot be trusted with women¿s safety

Later Sisters Uncut dyed the Trafalgar Square fountain red. The group say the police are institutionally violent against women and cannot be trusted with women¿s safety

Later Sisters Uncut dyed the Trafalgar Square fountain red. The group say the police are institutionally violent against women and cannot be trusted with women’s safety

A Sisters Uncut banner at an anti-austerity protest organised by UK Uncut on May 30, 2015

A Sisters Uncut banner at an anti-austerity protest organised by UK Uncut on May 30, 2015

A Sisters Uncut banner at an anti-austerity protest organised by UK Uncut on May 30, 2015

Protesters who turned out in force to remember Sarah Everard and lay flowers at Clapham Common's bandstand

Protesters who turned out in force to remember Sarah Everard and lay flowers at Clapham Common's bandstand

Protesters who turned out in force to remember Sarah Everard and lay flowers at Clapham Common’s bandstand

Sunday's protest on Parliament Square, which was organised by Sisters Uncut following the vigil on Clapham Common

Sunday's protest on Parliament Square, which was organised by Sisters Uncut following the vigil on Clapham Common

Sunday’s protest on Parliament Square, which was organised by Sisters Uncut following the vigil on Clapham Common 

A protest outside Scotland Yard on Sunday included banners criticising Boris Johnson's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

A protest outside Scotland Yard on Sunday included banners criticising Boris Johnson's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

A protest outside Scotland Yard on Sunday included banners criticising Boris Johnson’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Sisters Uncut activists occupying a library in Bristol in 2017 after it was scheduled to close down

Sisters Uncut activists occupying a library in Bristol in 2017 after it was scheduled to close down

Sisters Uncut activists occupying a library in Bristol in 2017 after it was scheduled to close down 

Sisters Uncut members march and occupy part of Holloway Prison in 2017 in protest at cuts to women's services

Sisters Uncut members march and occupy part of Holloway Prison in 2017 in protest at cuts to women's services

Sisters Uncut members march and occupy part of Holloway Prison in 2017 in protest at cuts to women’s services 

An anti-lockdown protester is escorted away by police, as people gather at a memorial site in Clapham Common Bandstand

An anti-lockdown protester is escorted away by police, as people gather at a memorial site in Clapham Common Bandstand

An anti-lockdown protester is escorted away by police, as people gather at a memorial site in Clapham Common Bandstand

How vigil for Sarah Everard descended into chaos and led to mass protests in Parliament Square 

Saturday, March 13

Hundreds of well-wishers, including Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, lay floral tributes and notes paying tribute to Sarah Everard at the bandstand on Clapham Common throughout the afternoon.

In previous days, organisers had been speaking to the Met Police in the hope of organising a vigil by the bandstand, but the force refused to give its go ahead due to Covid regulations.

4pm – Around 200 people gather at the site. The protest was originally organised by campaign group Reclaim These Streets before they were forced to cancel it by police. Sisters Uncut stepped in in their place. 

5.45pm – A man walks onto the bandstand to make a speech, and begins shouting angrily about Ms Everard’s death and ranting about Covid rules. Some people respond with boos and chants of ‘not your place’. He is later led away by police.

6pm – A minute’s silence is held for Ms Everard. There are now around 500 people on the event, according to Sky News. The crowds began chanting ‘we will not be silenced’ as the police presence increases. An aerial photo shows officers dotted among the closely-packed crowd.

6.27pm – A group of women leading chants from the bandstand are asked to leave by officers, who explain that the event is breaking Covid rules. The crowd respond with chants of ‘Shame on you’ as officers continue talking to the women.

6.33pm – More police vans arrive and around 10 officers began walking towards the bandstand. An officer says over a loudspeaker, ‘This is no longer a vigil, it’s an unlawful gathering, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. You are going to get more officers coming here.’ This prompts more angry chants.

7.08pm – As the atmosphere grows increasingly hostile, protester Patsy Stevenson – speaking from the bandstand – tells police to ‘go home’ via a loudspeaker and urges the crowd to stay. Using a loudspeaker, she says: ‘Are we going to leave and go home?’ A shout of ‘no!’ is heard from people in the crowd. ‘Are you sure?’, Ms Stevenson adds. ‘Yes!’ the crowd responds. Ms Stevenson then says: ‘Then the police should go home. I’m done with being bullied by police.’ 

7.20pm – A woman is seen on video being forcefully led away by three officers. A minute later police repeat their warning that people have to leave and also post this on Twitter.

7.22pm – A group of police grab a woman standing on the bandstand just along from Patsy Stevenson and move her to a police van, to jeers from the crowd. Flame-haired protester Ms Stevenson is also led away and pinned to the ground by three officers, in an image that went viral. She was arrested and fined £200.

7.42pm – After chants of ‘all cops are b******s’, and two arrests, a group of officers are surrounded by the crowd. One of the protesters points aggressively at a policeman before shoving ensues as police push their way out of the crowd.

7.57pm – Protesters attack a police van and graffiti ‘ACAB’ – for ‘all all cops are b******s’ on the vehicle.

8pm – Police have dispersed most of the crowds and the atmosphere has calmed down.

Sunday, March 14

3pm – Following anger at the Met’s handling of the Clapham protest, London Mayor Sadiq Khan demands a ‘full independent investigation’ into what happened.

4pm – A crowd of protesters begin to gather outside Scotland Yard, with one sign reading, ‘RIP Democracy / Mutual Respect / Sarah.’

4.10pm – Several hundred protesters are not outside the Met’s headquarters and are chanting ‘Sisters united will never be defeated’.

4.13pm – A protester reads out a list of the women killed by men this year.

4.30pm – By now the crowd has grown so that protesters are now completely blocking the road.

4.40pm – The demonstrators move towards Parliament Square. In contrast to the night before, there is a low police presence and officers do not attempt to disperse the crowds.

4.50pm – Thousands of protesters lie on the ground for a mass ‘die-in’. This is a tactic previously used by pro-cycling activists and Extinction Rebellion campaigners.

5.20pm – Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick confirms she is not planning to resign.

5.40pm – There is another minute’s silence, with people raising their fists in the air, according to a live blog by My London News.

6pm – The crowd dissipates as the protest draws to a close.

 

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Groups riding on the coat-tails of those fighting for justice for Sarah include environmentalists, socialists, animal rights activists and Stop Brexit campaigners who have all been in Clapham and Parliament Square in recent days.

Tonight another protest is planned in Westminster, which will also be in opposition of Boris Johnson’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Sisters Uncut was formed in 2014 by activists Janelle Brown and Vicky Ford to support victims of domestic violence, and found fame for stunts including jumping on the red carpet at the West End premiere of the movie ‘Suffragette’ starring Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter and later dying the Trafalgar Square fountains red.

Sisters Uncut say the police are institutionally violent against women and cannot be trusted with women’s safety.

It has put out a ‘call to arms’ on social media for people to join them in London tonight and said: ‘The police protect themselves. The police do not keep us safe, and plainclothes police won’t protect us. On Saturday night, the police were drunk with power. And now the Government is voting to give them more power. We say no’.

Sisters Uncut has been backed by BLM UK and Extinction Rebellion, who were behind the most high profile protests in Britain over the past few years where police took the knee and were accused of not being tough enough on protesters who ran riot.

But on Saturday night the Met was accused of being heavy-handed in its treatment of some of the protesters who turned out in force to remember Sarah Everard and lay flowers at Clapham Common’s bandstand.

The vigil had originally been organised by the protest group Reclaim These Streets before it was forced to cancel after police said it would be in breach of coronavirus rules. Its organiser Anna Birley said on Monday she did not want Dame Cressida to resign.

But it was then that Sisters Uncut stepped in, tweeting: ‘To all those still thinking of heading to Clapham Common: we will be there! Please bring your sadness and your rage’.

Since then it has led the protests at Westminster, including a large protest outside New Scotland Yard, the Met’s headquarters on the Embankment.

And today they have laid flowers outside parliament spelling out the words ‘kill the bill’ in a bid for the government to scrap the legislation.

Sisters Uncut claim they have no leaders or hierarchy.

Ms Brown said previously that: ‘Direct action is something people do when they’re absolutely desperate, and the state of domestic violence services is absolutely desperate. But no-one has really batted an eyelid, so we take direct action to be disruptive. Movements like BLM and the suffragettes prove it makes a difference. It’s not something you do on a whim, because there’s a risk of arrest, so the fact that so many women and non-binary people are willing to do that is really telling.’

Sisters Uncut also claim to have no political affiliations, but enjoy the support of many left-wing groups including the professional protesters from BLM and Extinction Rebellion.

Backing the BLM movement the group said previously: ‘Sisters Uncut pledge our commitment and solidarity to Black Lives Matter UK and our black, queer siblings who are leading the movement on this side of the Atlantic.

‘Black Lives Matter is part of a long struggle by the black community against police and state brutality. Though it was founded in the US, the parallels with police and state violence in the UK cannot be ignored’.

Today the Reclaim These Streets movement appeared to further back away from organising the protests.

In a series of tweets the group said: ‘This movement does not belong to us. This movement belongs to all women, especially those failed by men and by the Police most: black and brown, queer, disabled and trans women’.

RTS also paid tribute to Sisters Uncut and other groups including End Violence against Women, the Centre for Women’s Justice, Black Protest Legal Support UK and lawyers from Green & Black Cross.

It came as a police federation chief has defended the actions of officers at the vigil for Sarah Everard and claimed the event had been ‘hijacked’ by Antifa, Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion protesters. 

Footage from the vigil shows mourners packed together around floral tributes left for Ms Everard – with a number of demonstrators shouting: ‘No justice, no peace, f*** the police.’

One of the attendees, stood next to the person filming, had brought a megaphone.

Demonstrators marched through the streets of London for the second night on Monday, with crowds gathering in Parliament Square and outside New Scotland Yard before briefly blocking traffic on Westminster Bridge – amid growing pressure on the Government to tackle violence against women.

Boris Johnson has now unveiled plans to place plain-clothed police officers in nightclubs, while also spending £45million on improving street lights and CCTV coverage to better protect women after thousands took to the streets demanding action to protect women from predators.    

Police clash with protesters at a vigil held in Clapham in memory of Sarah Everard

Police clash with protesters at a vigil held in Clapham in memory of Sarah Everard

Police clash with protesters at a vigil held in Clapham in memory of Sarah Everard

Women hold signs during a protest at Westminster Bridge on Monday night

Women hold signs during a protest at Westminster Bridge on Monday night

Women hold signs during a protest at Westminster Bridge on Monday night

The protest leaves Parliament Square and heads on to Westminster bridge and then to New Scotland Yard. Protests in central London

The protest leaves Parliament Square and heads on to Westminster bridge and then to New Scotland Yard. Protests in central London

The protest leaves Parliament Square and heads on to Westminster bridge and then to New Scotland Yard. Protests in central London

‘This is NOT what she would have wanted’: Sarah’s Everard’s friend says she avoided Clapham Common vigil because her ‘tragic death has been hijacked’ by people ‘blaming men or police for the actions of one individual’

One of Sarah Everard‘s friends has criticised the way her death has been ‘politicised’, saying, ‘This is not what Sarah would have wanted’.

Helena Edwards, who attended Durham University with the 33-year-old marketing executive, said she had planned to attend her vigil on Clapham Common on Saturday but decided not to over fears her death had been ‘hijacked’.

Explaining that many of Ms Everard’s other friends also decided not to go, she claimed it was ‘not a tribute to her anymore’ but had been taken over by political campaigners.

Helena Edwards, who attended Durham University with Ms Everard, (pictured) said she had planned to attend her vigil on Clapham Common on Saturday but decided not to over fears her death had been 'hijacked'

Helena Edwards, who attended Durham University with Ms Everard, (pictured) said she had planned to attend her vigil on Clapham Common on Saturday but decided not to over fears her death had been 'hijacked'

Helena Edwards, who attended Durham University with Ms Everard, (pictured) said she had planned to attend her vigil on Clapham Common on Saturday but decided not to over fears her death had been ‘hijacked’

Writing in Spiked Magazine, she said it was wrong to try and blame other people for the actions of one ‘psychopath’, adding: ‘Sarah was a victim of one of the most horrific crimes imaginable. She was extremely unlucky – that is all there is to it.

‘Her abduction and murder is not, in my opinion, a symptom of a sexist, dangerous society. When something awful like this happens there is a rush to look for reasons and apportion blame.

‘If the suspect police officer in custody is eventually tried and found guilty of her murder, then I will hold him alone responsible. I will not be blaming ”men” or ”the police” for the actions of one individual.’

Ms Edwards said that her friend ‘knew many wonderful men’ in her life, several of whom had played key roles in the effort to try and find her.

She continued: ‘I don’t think Sarah would have wanted them, or men in general, to be smeared with the same brush as her attacker. Most people, and indeed men, are good.

‘They would never wish harm on anyone else, let alone attack or kill someone. Despite what has happened to Sarah allegedly at the hands of this man, I will continue to believe that.’

Mourners laying floral tributes to Ms Everard at the bandstand on Clapham Common today

Mourners laying floral tributes to Ms Everard at the bandstand on Clapham Common today

Mourners laying floral tributes to Ms Everard at the bandstand on Clapham Common today

Ms Edwards also described as ‘ridiculous’ a proposal by Green Party peer Baroness Jenny Jones to subject men to a 6pm curfew, as she vowed not to ‘live in fear’ when social activities began again after the end of lockdown.

Paying tribute to Sarah, she concluded: ‘I will miss my friend deeply. I am so sad she will never see the end of lockdown and, as her friends, we will never get to enjoy these experiences with her again.’

Saturday’s vigil saw four people arrested amid ugly scenes of scuffles between police and mourners that have sparked intense criticism of the Met Police.

Campaign group says it has ‘lost confidence’ in Met chief Cressida Dick 

Campaign group Reclaim These Streets, which originally organised Saturday’s vigil on Clapham Common, said it has ‘lost our confidence’ in Dame Cressida Dick, following a meeting today.

In a statement on Twitter, the group said on Monday it was invited to meet with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, deputy mayor for policing Sophie Linden and London victims’ commissioner Claire Waxman, and later with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida.

Reclaim These Streets said: ‘Despite this issue being top of the news agenda and our flexibility with timings, she provided us just 15 minutes of her time to discuss both the right to protest and women’s safety.

‘We pressed the commissioner for a clear answer on what an acceptable form of a vigil would be under the legislation, and she refused to provide an answer.’

Campaign group Reclaim These Streets said it was ‘considering our legal options’ following the process.

It continued: ‘We asked Commissioner Dick to waive the fines of women who attended the vigil at Clapham Common on Saturday, but she flat out refused, even though it was her force’s decisions that forced women into this position.

‘We believe we have given Commissioner Dick and the Metropolitan Police more than enough opportunities to demonstrate that they are committed to policing by consent and allowing people to use their rights.

‘She has lost our confidence in her ability to lead the urgent changes needed to tackle institutional misogyny and racism in the Metropolitan Police, and she has clearly lost the confidence of London’s women too, and we urge her to consider her position.’

The group has also asked Mr Khan for meaningful funding behind the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, a ring-fenced fund for specialist domestic and sexual violence organisations, for the mayor to back calls to criminalise street harassment and demand Dame Cressida commit to training every Met Police officer on misogyny, sexism and anti-racism.

 

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Met Commissioner Cressida Dick has rejected calls for her resignation, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had full confidence in her.

Patsy Stevenson – who was pictured being pinned to the ground, handcuffed and arrested by two male officers – has also called for the agenda to shift away from politics and back towards how to stop violence against women.

‘I accidentally went viral. I didn’t want this to happen. This happened like a whirlwind,’ she said on Sky News.

‘I’ve been thrown into the public eye and the only way I can make this not in vain is to not make it political, not against the police. It’s just about the safety of women and we need to talk about it,’ she said.

An estimated 85,000 women are raped and more than 400,000 sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year, with only a tiny fraction of incidents leading to criminal convictions.

The most recent figures showed the conviction rate per rape allegation recorded by the police was 2.6%, a record low.

Since Everard’s disappearance, many women have taken to social media to recount their own experiences of harassment and assault on Britain’s streets and to demand change.

One of the factors that turned the case into a rallying cry was the fact that police advised women near the spot where Everard went missing to stay at home for their own safety.

This enraged many women who said the onus should be on men to change their behaviour, not on women to give up their freedoms.

‘Too many of us have walked home from school or work alone, only to hear footsteps uncomfortably close behind us,’ interior minister Priti Patel told parliament. ‘Too many of us have clutched our keys in our fists in case we needed to defend ourselves, and that is not OK.’

In a sign of the strength and breadth of feeling, the government has received 78,000 new responses to its appeal for evidence on violence against women, which was reopened on Friday in light of the reaction to the Everard case.

It comes as Wayne Couzens, 48, the police officer charged with Ms Everard’s kidnap and murder appeared at the Old Bailey for his first hearing at the court this morning.

The court heard he faced a trial of up to four weeks, which has been pencilled in for the start of October.

He is accused of snatching Ms Everard from a friend’s flat in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

Prosecutor Tom Little, QC, told the court: ‘There’s been a very significant and wide-ranging investigation.

‘The position is that Sarah Everard was walking home a distance of some two and a half miles – if she had made it home – at 9 o’clock on the evening of March 3.’ 

The prosecutor said the case has received ‘almost unprecedented media and public attention.’

Couzens appeared via video link for the hearing today, wearing a red sweatshirt and grey jogging bottoms.

He spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth at the hearing, before the Recorder of London Judge Mark Lucraft QC. 

Link hienalouca.com

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