Watch: Hundreds attend vigil for Sarah Everard despite police warning
Hundreds of people have gathered in south London to pay tribute to Sarah Everard despite a vigil being cancelled.
Mourners stood in Clapham Common near where the 33-year-old, whose body was formally identified on Friday, went missing on 3 March.
Crowds could be heard chanting “sisters united will never be defeated” at a memorial before police urged them to disperse.
Officers later clashed with protesters and were seen leading some of them away.
Serving Metropolitan Police constable Wayne Couzens, 48, is charged with kidnapping and murdering Ms Everard.
He appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning following his arrest on Tuesday.
Watch: Police arrest woman at Sarah Everard protest
— Karen Morrison (@karenmorrison1) March 13, 2021
A planned gathering at 6pm had been replaced with a doorstep vigil, with organisers saying despite their attempts to work with police to ensure the vigil could proceed safely, they now felt it could not go ahead after a High Court judge refused to intervene on their behalf.
They instead asked people to stand on their doorsteps at 9.30pm, the same time Ms Everard was last seen alive, and shine a light in her memory.
A number of police forces across the country issued statements urging people not to attend the in-person events, instead encouraging people to join planned doorstep or online vigils.
Commander Catherine Roper, Metropolitan Police lead for community engagement, said the force took “no joy” in the Clapham vigil's cancellation but insisted it was the “right thing to do”.
She said: “I know that yesterday’s ruling would have been unwelcome news for the organisers and to those who were hoping to join others in tribute to Sarah and to make a stand on violence against women.”
Greater Manchester Police reminded people that congregating in large groups remained illegal due to current coronavirus restrictions but said it “absolutely supports” the doorstep vigils and “encourages our communities to join them”.
West Midlands Police said events in Coventry and Birmingham had been cancelled after discussions with the organisers.
Despite the warnings, groups still gathered across the country to pay respects to Ms Everard, including in Bristol and Nottingham.
Meanwhile, the government has been urged to clarify the law on protests during the coronavirus pandemic after Ms Everard’s vigil was cancelled.
Labour’s Harriet Harman, who chairs the Joint Committee on Human Rights, led the calls after Reclaim These Streets said they felt the event could not go ahead despite attempts to work with the police to ensure it could proceed safely.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The police’s response to do a blanket ban, to say we can treat everybody equally by stopping all freedom of associations, is not the right way to go about it.”
Reclaim These Streets organiser Anna Birley said if the vigil went ahead there would have been "massive individual risk" and women were in danger of being fined for breaking laws.
She added: "All the women across the country who are seeking to organise their own events too are at risk of criminal prosecutions from the Serious Crimes Act, which is what we've been threatened with.
"The inability of Scotland Yard to constructively engage with us means we can't be confident they're going to police the event in a way that's Covid safe."
The Duchess of Cambridge also visited the memorial for Ms Everard earlier on Saturday.