An Anti-Violence Against Women Protest Is Planned Outside Parliament In Wake Of Sarah Everard Vigil
The woman pictured in a widely-shared photo of her being restrained by police at a vigil for Sarah Everard is calling for people to assemble outside Parliament to protest violence against women.
UPDATE: The planned protest at parliament square today has been cancelled. Organisers have said they will not be attending the event and have encouraged others not to.
Patsy Stevenson, a Physics student at Royal Holloway, University of London, attended a vigil in Clapham Common on Saturday evening held in memory of Sarah Everard, who was found dead after she disappeared while walking home through the area almost two weeks ago.
In a video shared on Twitter, she has now urged people to protest in Parliament Square on Monday, saying she wants to “redirect the focus away from the police and towards what actually happened”.
“We need to be seen and heard. And that's why I'm calling for everyone to meet at 5pm on the 15th of March, outside Parliament Square. See you there.”
Police had said a planned Reclaim These Streets event could not go ahead due to coronavirus restrictions, but hundreds of people still congregated yesterday evening at the bandstand on Clapham Common, near to where Everard disappeared.
Officers have been criticised for their “heavy-handed” approach towards the protesters after images showing Stevenson being forcibly removed by police were shared widely on social media.
Stevenson recounted her arrest in an interview with online publication Counterfire, she said: “I was arrested by police for standing there. I wasn't doing anything.
“And they threw me to the floor, they have pictures of me on the floor being arrested, and I'm five foot two, I weigh nothing, and several police are on my back trying to arrest me.”
“They arrested me, and the cops dragged me away, surrounded by like 10 police officers, and when I got in the van, they said we just need your name and your address and then we'll let you go with the fine, so I don't see the point of the arrest.”
Responding to Saturday night's events, assistant commissioner Helen Ball said the officer's actions were driven by an "overriding need to protect people’s safety".
"The pandemic is not over and gatherings of people from right across London and beyond, are still not safe," she said.
This latest action comes as Commons prepares to consider a bill which aims to give police more powers to tackle “disruptive” protests.
MPs will debate the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill — which seeks to expand police powers in cracking down on protests following mass demonstrations by Extinction Rebellion and the Black Lives Matter movement last summer — on Monday, with a vote to be held on Tuesday.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner confirmed on Sunday that the party will vote against the bill, after it was initially planned that they would abstain.
"The bill could lead to harsher penalties for damaging a statue than for attacking a woman," she wrote on Twitter.
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