Published by Islington Now, co-reported by Hannah Sargeant, Poppy Sowerby and Vicky Jessop.
Thousands gathered outside New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, yesterday afternoon to protest against the actions of officers at a vigil in memory of Sarah Everard on Saturday, and a new police, crime, sentencing and courts bill that has since come under scrutiny.
The vigil on Clapham Common paid tribute to the 33-year-old woman who went missing on 3 March while walking to her home in Brixton in South London.
The Met have faced widespread criticism for their handling of the event. Many members of the public also took to social media to call for Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to resign.
Members of Islington Council have denounced the actions of the police, and following the incident both Islington South and Finsbury MP, Emily Thornberry, and North Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn, have emphasised that they will be voting against the bill.
Home Secretary Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will allow police to have more control over protests. This includes being able to impose start and end times and set noise limits to protests. Currently, if police want to restrict a protest, they have to show it may result in “serious public disorder”. The bill will allow police to restrict a demonstration by just one person.
Feminist group Sisters Uncut promoted the protest on social media yesterday morning, tweeting: “Police are perpetrators of individual and state violence against women – as evidenced last night. The police abuse the powers they already have, yet the government plans to give them even more powers in the #PoliceCrackdownBill. We must resist this.”
Islington Now’s Poppy Sowerby and Vicky Jessop report on yesterday’s key events and the Islington community’s reaction to the protests so far.
Vicky Jessop: There is an almost palpable anger in the crowd and a considerably larger number of people in attendance than the Clapham vigil. There is also a heavy police presence, with police lined up around the edges of the protest.
As crowds gather, a one minute silence is held as a police helicopter circles above, Huck Magazine reports.
Jeremy Corbyn, former Labour leader and MP for Islington North, tweets that he will be voting against the Police Crime and Sentencing Bill in Parliament.
Emily Thornberry, the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, tweets that she will also not be supporting the new legislation to change people’s right to protest, saying that it would “impose greater penalties for damaging a statue than attacking a woman.”
Police remove a cardboard gravestone for Sarah Everard outside New Scotland Yard. PA reporter, Catherine Wylie, tweeted: “Police officers have removed this gravestone shaped placard from underneath the New Scotland Yard sign outside the @metpoliceuk building in London.”
Poppy Sowerby: Many people are holding signs, some of them are affiliated with groups, such as the Socialist Women’s Union.
Poppy Sowerby: Chants included “sisters united will never be defeated’, “whose streets, our streets!”, and “shame on you!”, directed to the police officers.
At Parliament Square, protestors stage a ‘die-in’, laying on the floor of the square to remember “those who are laying down forever”, Huck Magazine reports.
Vicky Jessop: Police officers move through the crowd being chanted at, almost hissed at.
Poppy Sowerby: Police are initially very hands-off, but at around 5pm begin to infiltrate the crowd more. After dark, the police gather around a statue of Churchill in Parliament Square.
Poppy Sowerby: Police appear to laugh at some of the protesters’ actions, which sparks a chant from the crowd: ‘F*** you for laughing’.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan releases a statement following his meeting with the Met Commissioner, stating: “Last week I called on the Government and police to work with the organisers of the vigil to clarify the law and find a way for it to take place legally and safely. On Friday a High Court judge made clear there was a window to agree a way for a vigil to go ahead safely. I received assurances from the Metropolitan Police last week that the vigil would be policed sensitively. In my view, this was not the case.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrat party, Ed Davey, writes to Home Secretary Priti Patel and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan condoning the policing of the vigil at Clapham Common on Saturday, and asking for a clarification from Commissioner Dame Cressida regarding the police’s heavy-handed tactics.
Jane Jutsum, Director of Business Development at Islington-based Solace Women’s Aid tells Islington Now her thoughts on the demonstration at Scotland Yard: “Perhaps it will really make them think that at least – this might be the catalyst for change. Women, they’re not safe on the street and they’re not safe at home.”