Images above: Candles on windowsills; Romaine Dennistoun and Annette Muller
Sarah Everard was remembered in Chiswick on Saturday night, with candles lit here and there in residential streets. Those who came out at 9.30pm to shine a light were not nearly as numerous as those who supported the ‘clap for the NHS’ initiative in the summer of 2020, but the memorial was arranged very much at the last minute.
The doorstep vigil was suggested by the organisers of the vigil on Clapham Common once that had been banned by the Metropolitan Police. They spent all day Saturday urging people not to come, but still hundreds turned up to pay their respects and lay flowers, until heavy handed policing put an end to it, as the world saw, in a way which has been condemned across the political spectrum.
Reclaim the Streets were still hoping the Clapham vigil would go ahead in the way they planned with marshals and cooperative policing, after a High Court ruling on Friday made it clear there was no blanket ban on organised protest even under Covid regulations, and the decision on whether ot not it would go ahead was down to the Police.
Images above: Rupa Huq MP holding a candle in her back garden; Ruth Cadbury Twitter message
Local politicians support the doorstep vigil
Both Rupa Huq MP and Ruth Cadbury MP, who represent different parts of Chiswick in Parliament, took part in the doorstep vigil.
Rupa shared (anonymously) some of the comments she’d received in her inbox, including this one:
‘I am a thirty year old woman and I have spent my whole life doing things like carrying a key between my knuckles – even when it is dark at 4.00pm because you just never know, planning the safest route home, not playing loud music so I can hear my surroundings…
‘I know this is the case with every woman. The scary thing is that until recently, I normalised all of that behaviour. When I really started to analyse all of this, it really did shock me. We should not have to do this.
‘I can count over 20 incidences where I have been sexually assaulted or harrassed. I really do feel scared walking around when it’s dark, but the scary thing is, things also do happen in broad daylight!
‘I was wondering if there were any plans to try and help women feel safer, and if there are, what would that look like?’
Rupa also made mention of having been attacked herself, reporting that she had been stabbed in her 20s.
Chiswick Councillor Gabriella Giles also videoed herself lighting a candle and wrote:
‘We should be able to walk down a street without fear. Not just for Sarah Everard but for every person (young or old) who has been the victim of harrassment or violence’.
Cllr Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Communities on Hounslow Council, commented on the policing of Saturday night’s vigil on Clapham Common:
‘An explanation is needed. The police response was seriously misjudged’.
Image: Vigil at Crouch End; photograph Linda Grant
Crouch End vigil similar to many around the country
Clapham Common was not the only place in London where people came together to remember Sarah Everard. Author Linda Grant shared a photograph of a vigil in Crounch End. She commented:
‘There was more than one vigil for Sarah Everard in London last night. Here’s one which took place in a Crouch End park. The police stood at the perimeter and didn’t intervene. We left flowers and candles and went home’.
There were vigils in other parts of the country which also passed off withoug incident, including those in Brighton, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Liverpool.
Opposition voting against new Police bill
Labour have confirmed they would vote against the new Police bill being introduced in Parliament this week, which they describe as ‘a mess’.
Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth said:
“The awful scenes from the vigil at Clapham Common last Saturday demonstrates just how precious our right to gather and to protest is; yet this bill would give the police and the Government sweeping and unseen powers to disrupt peaceful demonstrations. This undermines our basic right to protest. The Bill also gives the police new powers to target those in the Gypsies, Travellers and Roma community, who already face huge levels of discrimination and hostility”.
Labour MP Jess Phillips told Sophie Ridge on Sunday on Sky News that Labour had suggested dozens of amendments to improve it, but as it stood it provided protection to statues and cars than it did to women in the street.
Green MP Caroline Lucas described writes:
‘This is one of the most dangerous anti-democratic pieces of legislation in recent times which seeks to criminalise dissent – and Government is trying to rush it through before the opposition organises’.
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