'I was shocked at the police aggression', attendee of Sarah Everard's vigil tells LBC

15 March 2021, 17:22

By Fiona Jones

This caller attended the vigil for Sarah Everard on Saturday night and told Shelagh Fogarty how "shocked" she was at the "levels of police aggression."

In ugly scenes, officers clashed with crowds gathered on Clapham Common in south London to remember the 33-year-old marketing executive who went missing while walking home from a friend's flat on March 3.

Serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with kidnapping and killing the marketing executive.

The caller Theresa told Shelagh that when she arrived at 7pm and it was "very calm."

She said that officers started coming in to the crowds "not long after"a senior police officer had been listening to a woman speaking on the bandstand.

"I was shocked at the level of aggression they used to push through and it felt like...something must have happened. And nothing had happened," Theresa said, "they just decided to take the girls that were talking on the bandstand and to arrest them and take them away."

Read more: Woman arrested on ground at Sarah Everard vigil 'not surprised' at how police treated her

The caller branded it "tone deaf" and in complete contrast with the atmosphere of the vigil.

She pointed out the speaker was not "elevating the crowd" and people were not becoming aggressive after hearing what she was saying, questioning the need for her arrest.

Theresa told Shelagh she recorded a video of the police "on top of" the speaker in the middle of the bandstand, which has been shown on social media to be a woman with red hair.

Theresa continued that there was a man there goading the police but they didn't arrest him - yet the girl was "pinned on the floor", was then "surrounded", and then she was "marched away."

"They did the same with another girl behind us," she said, "about 15 to 20 police officers had surrounded another girl behind us and had formed a big bubble around her and also took her away."

Theresa confronted some officers, asking for the reason the two women had been taken away, to which they responded that one of the women had been "saying not very nice things about police officers."

Read more: Met Police chief urged to resign after handling of Sarah Everard vigil

Watch: 'The UK is not safe for women', Labour's Jess Phillips tells LBC

Met Commissioner Dame Cressida has ruled out resigning over the accusations of "manhandling" by police officers.

She told reporters she was "appalled" at what happened to Sarah Everard but she would not consider her position over clashes between officers and mourners at Clapham Common on Saturday night.

She said: "All the women and men of the Met are outraged at what has happened and they're working as hard as they can to get justice for Sarah.

"In that context, none of us would have wanted to see the scenes we saw at the end of yesterday's events."