A London police officer was charged with the murder of Sarah Everard, a 33-year old woman, who went missing the week before. Following the arrest, many gathered at a vigil that was held in Clapham Common Park to show their support. Her disappearance and death made headlines worldwide. 

On March 3, Everard was walking home at 9 p.m., on an illuminated road in bright clothing. Before she disappeared, she had called her boyfriend to tell him that she was on her way back. Her boyfriend reported her missing the next day. On March 9th, the day before her remains were found, the police officer was arrested. 

Now that the suspect is in custody, criminal proceedings are underway. A plea hearing has been set for July 9, and following that a trial will take place on October 25.

“Reclaim the Streets” events were planned across the country to show support for Everard and to bring attention to the issue of women’s safety, especially at night. However, these events were cancelled. Officials cited COVID restrictions as part of the reason. Hundreds gathered to pay their respects, light candles, and bring flowers anyway. 

The vigil turned into a rally against gender violence with people shouting “Shame on you!” and asking “How many more?”. Police soon broke up the rally. Images show them forcing women to the ground and arresting peaceful protestors.

This angered protestors more, especially considering that the suspect is a police officer as well. People were already calling for policing reforms, but after their handling of the vigil, these calls only increased. An investigation is taking place regarding the policing at the vigil. 

A policing bill that would have granted the police more power to control protests is being debated in Parliament. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the footage from the vigil was deeply concerning and met with ministers and senior officers to discuss steps to improve women’s safety on the streets. 

The murder of Sarah Everard has become an international movement. Women from all over the world are sharing stories about being harassed on the streets, feeling unsafe while walking alone at night, and all of the measures they take, like the ones Everard took, to protect themselves.

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