A Vigil for a Slain London Woman Moves Ahead

2021-03-13 20:33:54

The organizers of a vigil for a 33-year-old woman who went missing in London last week, and whose body was identified on Friday, said on Saturday that a gathering that was canceled due to Covid-19 restrictions would go ahead on Saturday, but virtually or on people’s doorsteps.

“This evening at 9:30 p.m. we will be joining people around the country in a doorstep vigil, standing on our doorsteps and shining a light — a candle, a torch, a phone — to remember Sarah Everard and all women affected by and lost to violence,” the organizers of the event, Reclaim These Streets, said on Twitter in reference to Ms. Everard, whose killing has set off an outpouring of solidarity and anger in Britain this week.

Lawmakers, activists and women’s rights organizations had called for a gathering in Clapham Common, the South London park near where Ms. Everard was last seen alive, to demand actions to address violence against women and to pay tribute to her.

A court had ruled on Friday that the gathering could be deemed unlawful because of Covid-19 restrictions, and the police urged prospective attendees to stay at home.

In just days, Ms. Everard’s case has come to symbolize a longstanding problem that many women said plagues Britain and could no longer be ignored: that at home or in public spaces, many women are not safe.

Thousands of them have their own stories of street harassment and assault. Ms. Everard was last seen on CCTV at around 9.30 p.m. on March 3 while walking home from a friend’s house.

Her family described her as “a shining example to us all” who was “kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable.”

“Sarah was bright and beautiful — a wonderful daughter and sister,” they added.

A police officer, Wayne Couzens, was charged with kidnapping and murdering Ms. Everard, the police said late Friday. Mr. Couzens, 48, appeared in court on Saturday.

While the authorities have tried to reassure the public by pointing out that abductions in London are rare, the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has also acknowledged that its streets are not safe enough. Many have said that as lockdown restrictions have emptied the country’s streets, people have felt unsafe walking in public.

More than 125,000 people have died of the coronavirus in Britain, but England is gradually coming out of a monthslong lockdown, starting this week with the reopening of schools, and gatherings of two people outside are now allowed. The authorities scrambled to put tight restrictions in place this year after the discovery of a more contagious variant in the country.

The organizers of the vigil, named Reclaim These Streets, said on Saturday morning that they had suggested ideas like splitting the gathering in Clapham Common into several time slots to find a balance between freedom of assembly and safety measures.

“We have been very disappointed that given the many opportunities to engage with organizers constructively, the Met Police have been unwilling to commit to anything,” they said in a statement in reference to the city’s Metropolitan Police.

The organizers said they had been told that they faced a fine of 10,000 pounds ($14,000) if they went ahead with the vigil. Instead, they set up a fund-raiser to support women’s causes around Britain, and moved ahead with the new approach, a doorstep vigil.

“We are clear that women’s voices will not be silenced, now or ever,” they said.


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Source by [earlynews24.com]