Good Morning. Police at a Sarah Everard memorial vigil were “placed in a position where law enforcement was necessary,” Scotland Yard said amid pressure to explain its handling of the meeting and with the police commissioner of the Met. Cressida dick facing calls to resign.
Priti Patel, the Secretary of the Interior, and Sadiq khan, the mayor of London, both said they had demanded an explanation from the Met, amid allegations that officers had grabbed women during fights with the crowd and mismanaged the largely peaceful vigil on Clapham Common, south From london.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, Scotland Yard confirmed that four people were arrested for public order offenses and for violating coronavirus restrictions on vigil.
There were protests across the political spectrum over the way the Met oversaw the event. Patel described the images circulating online of the police actions as “annoying” and confirmed that he has demanded a full report on what happened. Khan added that he was in contact with Dick and “was urgently seeking an explanation.”
The Labor leader, Sir Keir Starmer, He said the scenes were “deeply disturbing”, adding: “This was not the way to monitor this protest.” The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, he went further, writing a heavily worded letter to Dick. In it, he said: “This was a complete and abject tactical and moral failure on the part of the police.” He added that Dick should “consider his leadership.”
The gathering at Clapham Common, near where Everard was last seen, had been largely peaceful, but the atmosphere changed when police surrounded the bandstand, covered in floral tributes to the 33-year-old.
As police escorted several women, the crowd shouted “what a shame”, and during a confrontation, a distraught woman told officers: “They are supposed to protect us.”
Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball defended the actions of the police in a statement. She said:
Around 6 p.m., more people began to gather near the bandstand inside the commons. Some began to make speeches from the bandstand. These speeches then attracted more people to gather more together.
At this point, agents on the ground faced a very difficult decision. Hundreds of people were close together, posing a very real risk of easily transmitting Covid-19.
The officers spoke with those they met on several occasions and over an extended period. We repeatedly encouraged those who were there to comply with the law and leave. Sadly, a small minority of people began yelling at the officers, pushing and throwing objects.
Ball said Scotland Yard accepts that the actions of its officers have been questioned, but added:
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 imperative need to protect people’s safety.
Let me end by saying that throughout the Met we review each of the events we monitor to see if there are lessons to be learned. This one will be no different.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism