Doorstep candles lit to remember Sarah Everard

13 March 2021, 12:42 | Updated: 14 March 2021, 11:15

A doorstep vigil to remember Sarah Everard was held at 9:30pm on Saturday
A doorstep vigil to remember Sarah Everard was held at 9:30pm on Saturday. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A doorstep vigil for Sarah Everard was held at 9:30pm on Saturday after hundreds turn out to an event in south London which ended in arrests and clashes between mourners and police.

Campaign group Reclaim These Streets urged those who were planning to attend the Clapham Common gathering on Saturday evening to instead take part in the occasion from their homes, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scotland First Minister among those to take part.

It comes after organisers confirmed on Saturday morning that the south London event would no longer be going ahead but many decided to show up regardless, sparking controversy over how the Met Police reacted.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the group said it would be joining people across the country and "shining a light - a candle, a torch, a phone - to remember Sarah Everard and all the women affected by and lost to violence".

"We continue to strongly encourage people not to attend any gatherings on Clapham Common this evening. Safety, both from Covid-19 and legal consequences, has always been our top priority for the women of south London."

It added: "We aren't just lighting a candle for the women we've lost: we have been inspired by the women who have reached out and hope this is just the start of a movement that will light a fire for change."

Read more: High Court refuses to intervene in police ban on Sarah Everard vigil

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A large candle was laid on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street
A large candle was laid on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street. Picture: PA Images
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer lit a candle outside his home with his wife
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer lit a candle outside his home with his wife. Picture: PA Images

The doorstep vigil was scheduled for 9:30pm as that was the time Ms Everard was last seen, the organisers said.

Several independent events have been planned around the UK, mostly at 6pm. However, a number of them have already been cancelled and it is not yet clear how many will go ahead.

A representative of Reclaim These Streets said they still planned to hold a virtual event earlier in the evening but also wanted to hold the doorstep vigil at a time when it was dark in all parts of the country.

Meanwhile, a crowdfunding campaign launched on Saturday morning by Reclaim These Streets has now passed £150,000 in donations.

After the fundraising campaign passed £100,000, Labour MP Jess Phillips tweeted: "Women organising to raise each other up, these women are amazing. Help them if you can."

Read more: Body found in Kent woodland is Sarah Everard, police confirm

Read more: Women share how they've been forced to change their behaviour

Clapham vigil organisers: 'Hands were completely tied' to cancel

However, some campaigners said they still planned to attend the Clapham vigil despite the organisers' cancellation.

Sisters Uncut, which campaigns to prevent violence against women, tweeted: "We will still be attending tonight's event in memory of #SarahEverard and all those killed by gendered and state violence. We hope you do too. See you at Clapham Common at 6pm."

It added in a further post: "We are angry. We will not be controlled. We will not be silenced."

Commander Catherine Roper, Metropolitan Police lead for community engagement, said the force took "no joy" in the cancellation of the vigil but insisted it was the "right thing to do".

She added: "I would like to thank the organisers of tonight's vigil in Clapham Common for cancelling the gathering."

Ms Roper said: "While it is clear we cannot do this together on Clapham Common, I know there are various other ways to mourn Sarah in a safe way.

"We take no joy in this event being cancelled, but it is the right thing to do given the real and present threat of Covid-19.

"Throughout the week we have had a number of talks with the organisers of the vigil.

"These talks have undoubtedly been challenging and officers have worked hard to explain the regulations and why gatherings such as this cannot go ahead at this time."

Elsewhere, two Reclaim These Streets vigils planned in Coventry and Birmingham have been cancelled after consultation with West Midlands Police, the force said.