In London, despite the lockdown, over the weekend, a park in the Clapham area and then the square in front of Parliament was filled with a crowd of women with posters "She was just coming home", "If you can't trust the police, then who can you trust?" The speech on the posters is about a 33-year-old resident of London Sarah Everard, who, according to the investigation, was killed by a policeman when the girl was walking home alone in the evening.
The demonstrations lasted two days and were accompanied by arrests, police banning the watch under the slogan "Take back these streets." As a result, a memorable rally against violence ended with harsh detentions of the participants and criticism of the police.
We tell you what is known about the alleged killer Wayne Cousins, what the protesters demand, and how the officials reacted.
Kidnapping and murder
Marketing manager Sarah Everard went missing on the evening of March 3 as she was returning home in the Clapham area from a friend. Everard was last seen wearing a green raincoat, white patterned trousers, and turquoise trainers. She also had a 15-minute phone call with her boyfriend Josh Lowte before disappearing. Her body was found in Kent, near London.
Wayne Cousins, a 48-year-old member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Guard Command of London Police, was charged with her murder on Friday 12 March. Together with Cousins, his wife was detained, who is suspected of complicity. This is a 30-year-old Ukrainian from Kropyvnytsky. She was released on bail on Thursday.
In a special statement, London police provided some details about Cousins' work. He started working for the police in September 2018.
On 1 February 2020, he was transferred to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Guard Command, "where his main role was to patrol uniformed diplomatic facilities, mainly a number of embassies."
Dispersal of the rally and harsh detentions
On Saturday afternoon, Londoners brought thousands of flowers to the park in Clapham. The Duchess of Cambridge did not remain on the side of the tragedy. Kate's visit was private, she came by herself and laid daffodils from her garden.
In the park, as well as in about 40 cities in Britain, funeral watches with candles were to be held in the evening under the motto "Take back these streets."
But the police said they could not consider them legal under the lockdown. Therefore, most of the watches were officially canceled. The organizers of the campaign called on everyone in the evening at 21:30 (the time when Sarah Everard was last seen on surveillance cameras) to go out with candles or flashlights on the porch of the house.
“The disappearance of Sarah under such dire circumstances is the worst nightmare for any family. I think it is important for the people of London to know that such abductions of women on our streets are extremely rare. At the same time, I understand that, despite this, women are not only they - especially in the area where Sarah disappeared - will experience and feel fear," head of police London Cressida Dick said.
Despite the police ban, several hundred outraged women gathered in Clapham with placards calling for an end to violence against women.
Several of them were arrested during clashes with the police.
Footage of the protests is being circulated on social media - the footage shows how protesters were thrown to the ground during detention. As a result, the police were criticized for using force and dispersing the rally.
Appalling scenes at Clapham Common last night. Women at a peaceful vigil about male violence being violently manhandled and hand cuffed by police officers #SarahEverard #ReclaimTheseStreets pic.twitter.com/fHBpa6qQpg— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) March 14, 2021
The organizers were outraged by the harsh treatment of the participants by the police. They stated that they had warned law enforcement officers that an unorganized action would be worse than the proposed one.
"They must ensure public order, take care of people's health and protect their right to protest - they have not done any of this," the activists say.
On Sunday morning, actions continued at the police headquarters in New Scotland Yard, Downing Street and Parliament Square. The police did not intervene this time.
Also after the murder of Sarah Everard, thousands of women across the UK spoke about the incidents of violence and aggression that they have to face just walking the streets.
Reaction of Boris Johnson, Police and Mayor of London
London Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed his outrage at the arrests. He wrote on Twitter that he would "require urgent explanations" from the police leadership.
"Police in London are obliged to monitor the implementation of measures against the spread of Covid-19, but from what I saw, it is clear that the police action was unreasonable and disproportionate," said Khan.
Caroline Noakes, Conservative Party spokeswoman and head of the Parliamentary Committee on Women and Equal Opportunities, said she was shocked.
"In our country, the work of the police is based on the principle of people's consent. This does not mean at all that you need to stamp on the memory of a murdered woman and drag other women on the ground," she wrote.
Cressida Dick, the head of the London police, is not going to resign after the disbandment of the commemorative action, reports the BBC.
“It’s quite right that my team felt that this was an illegal meeting that posed a significant risk to public health. I don’t think anyone who didn’t participate in the operation could really give a detailed comment on right and wrong... It’s complicated,” Dick noted.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was shocked by the harsh dispersal of women in the park.
"Like everyone who has seen this, I am deeply shocked by the footage from Clapham Common... The death of Sarah Everard should unite us in our determination to eradicate violence against women and girls and use all the forces of justice to protect and protect them," Johnson's statement reads.
According to the British Prime Minister, he spoke to Dick, and she promised to investigate the actions of the police in Clapham Common.
Interior Minister Priti Patel asked the police leadership to provide a report on what happened and the actions of the police during the commemorative action. Her agency will investigate, Patel said.