LONDON (AP) – London Underground police were pressured on Sunday to explain their actions during a vigil against a woman whose force officer is accused of murder.
Hundreds of people ignored the restrictions of the coronavirus, gathering to protest against violence against women, but the event ended with clashes between police and those present.
Home Secretary Pretty Patel said the scene from the vigil in south London on Saturday was “outrageous” and he was looking for a full report from the Metropolitan Police. The mayor of the capital, Sadiq Khan, said the police response was “sometimes neither appropriate nor proportionate”.
During the event, police saw some women fighting, and a woman saw a woman tying two officers to the ground. Several women were handcuffed while other participants chanted “Shame on you” at police. Police later reported that four people had been arrested for violating coronavirus’s public order.
Many in attendance were already hostile to police as Metropolitan Police Officer Wayne Cousins was charged with the abduction and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who went missing on March 3 on her way home from London. One week later, his body was found in Kent Forest, south-east of London.
The case sparked a national outcry and heated debate over women’s safety. The organizers had planned an official vigil at Clapham Common, near where Everd was last seen alive, but had to cancel the event due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, a huge crowd appeared on Saturday.
Defending the actions of the armed forces, Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said that “hundreds of people gathered closely” at the real risk of transmitting the virus. He added that the officers had repeatedly encouraged those present to leave, but that the “small minority” had shouted at the police, pushing and throwing objects.
“We acknowledge that the actions of our officers have been called into question,” said Ball. “We absolutely did not want to find ourselves in a situation where enforcement action was necessary. “But we were put in this position because of the urgent need to protect the safety of the people.”
Cousins, 48, appeared in court for the first time on Saturday. He was remanded in custody and remanded in custody at the Central Criminal Court in London on Tuesday.
Metro police said it was “deeply disturbing” that one of their own suspects was involved. The force noted that Cousins joined his ranks in 2018, most recently serving in the Parliamentary պաշտպանության Diplomatic Defense Command, an armed unit responsible for maintaining the embassies in parliament in the capital.
Everard was last seen returning home from a friend’s apartment in south London on March 3 at 10 p.m. Around 30. His body was found hidden Wednesday in a wooded area of Kent, more than 50 miles southeast of London. Police said on Friday that the post-mortem examination was ongoing.