Women Organise Online Vigils For Sarah Everard and Blessing Olusegun A Week After Police Shut Down Event
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Featured Image Credit: Metropolitan Police
After extensive police presence at the Clapham vigil of Sarah Everard last weekend, alongside photographs and testimony of officers manhandling women, some have decided to pay their respects virtually instead.
The virtual vigils are also a way for those to honour victims without taking any Covid-19 risks, and to abide by the laws set out by the police.
One such event was recently organised by Reclaim The Streets Hastings, and is taking place at 6.30pm this Saturday.
The organisers explained the vigil was happening online 'for everyone's safety'.
Rosa Torr, one of the organisers, said: "In light of recent events we will come together as a community to express our hurt, grieve our losses, and demand safety for all women everywhere, to bring an end to gender violence."
Coventry Students Union is holding an online vigil for Sarah tonight, too, at 7pm, calling "staff and students to come together in solidarity", meanwhile a similar event has been organised by Reclaim The Streets at 7pm for those living in West Lothian, Scotland.
An online vigil was attended by over 200 people when it was organised in Durham, and several others happened across the UK last weekend, too.
The response comes after a vigil, held for 33 year old Sarah Everard, saw many mourners manhandled and intimidated by police last Saturday, according to photographs and witness testimony.
While the vigil was cancelled by its organisers after it was deemed unlawful due to coronavirus lockdown measures, thousands of people still showed up in Clapham Common to pay their respects to Sarah.
The event was always organised to be peaceful, and women had simply turned up to lay down flowers and to remember Sarah, who vanished earlier this month as she walked to Brixton from her friend's house.
She was later found dead in woodlands in Kent, with Metropolitan Police Officer Wayne Couzens having been charged with her kidnap and murder.
Other women with similar stories were also honoured during the vigil, including Blessing Olusegun, who was found dead on Bexhill seafront in September, with a post-mortem concluding she had drowned.
Since the 21-year-old's death, campaigners have criticised the police for not investigating her death properly, and her mother Esther Abe is also adamant there is more to the story.
A petition demanding further investigation has now been signed by over 40,000 people.
The tragic story of Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, who were found dead in a London park in June, only for police to "inappropriate" pictures of them, is also being remembered lately.
Following the Sarah Everard vigil last week, Boris Johnson called for a review of policing of the event - however, Met Police Chief Cressida Dick has ruled out resigning following the controversy.
"Quite rightly, as far as I can see, my team felt that this is now an unlawful gathering which poses a considerable risk to people's health," she told the BBC. "I don't think anybody who was not in the operation can actually pass a detailed comment on the rightness and wrongness... This is fiendishly difficult policing.
"What happened makes me more determined, not less, to lead my organisation."