‘This is no longer a vigil’: Moment police warn attendees at overcrowded Sarah Everard gathering on Clapham Common that they needed to leave – as event descended into chaos
- Metropolitan Police are facing questions over handling of the Sarah Everard vigil
- Officers filmed pushing mourners and arresting women at Clapham Common
- A liaison officer was filmed telling attendees to leave the ‘unlawful gathering’
- Scotland Yard have defended their actions saying officers were ‘faced with a very difficult decision’
Chaotic footage has captured the moment a police officer confronted furious mourners at a vigil for murdered Sarah Everard, demanding they leave the ‘unlawful gathering’.
The scenes of violent clashes on Clapham Common last night have provoked anger across the country, with thousands demanding Met Police chief Cressida Dick resign over the force’s crackdown on the event.
Four people were arrested at the south London vigil attended by over 1,000 mourners wanting to pay their respects to the 33-year-old marketing executive who disappeared nearby on March 3.
Amid the chaotic scenes, a police liaison officer, dressed in blue, is seen warning attendees to leave.
‘This is no longer a vigil, it is an unlawful gathering,’ he can be heard saying as one girl screams ‘How dare you!’ in reply.
Another officer can be heard urging people to leave, saying the vigil is not allowed ‘under coronavirus regulations, which you can be arrested for’.
The scenes of violent clashes on Clapham Common last night have provoked anger across the country, with thousands demanding Met Police chief Cressida Dick resign over the force’s crackdown on the event
People clash with police during a gathering at the memorial to murdered Sarah Everard in Clapham Common last night
But the orders sparked a furious reaction, with officers and mourners breaking into scuffles before some women are grabbed and led away.
One women, angered by the police, retorts ‘But it’s a human right (to protest), who are you meant to be protecting?’
With night having fallen an hour before, the lines of police in hi-vis jackets are filmed pushing against people protesting attempts to end the vigil centred around the Common’s bandstand.
Images show Patsy Stevenson, one of the four arrested, being held on the floor by two male officers as scraps continue around her.
Amid the chaotic scenes, a police liaison officer, dressed in blue, is seen warning attendees to leave, saying: ‘This is no longer a vigil, it is an unlawful gathering’
Hundreds of people held up the torches on their phones in memory of Ms Everard
Ms Steveson, who was fined £200, claims she was ‘just standing there’ and does not know why she was detained.
The decision to arrest four attendees and forcibly remove people from the bandstand has been roundly criticised as ‘heavy handed’.
In a statement released earlier today, Scotland Yard pushed back at criticism, saying officers had been ‘faced with a very difficult decision’ on how to handle the vigil.
Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said: ‘Hundreds of people were packed tightly together, posing a very real risk of easily transmitting Covid-19.
‘Those who gathered were spoken to by officers on a number of occasions and over an extended period of time. We repeatedly encouraged those who were there to comply with the law and leave.
Images show Patsy Stevenson, one of the four arrested, being held on the floor by two male officers as scraps continue around her
‘Regrettably, a small minority of people began chanting at officers, pushing and throwing items.
‘After speaking with officers, the vast majority of people quickly left. Four arrests have been made for public order offences and for breaches of the Health Protection Regulations.
‘Part of the reason I am speaking to you tonight is because we accept that the actions of our officers have been questioned.
‘We absolutely did not want to be in a position where enforcement action was necessary. But we were placed in this position because of the overriding need to protect people’s safety.’