The fallout from Saturday evening’s clash in a South London park between police and mourners at a vigil for suspected murder victim Sarah Everard has been swift and there are mounting calls for the police department’s top cop to step down.
Cressida Dick, the head of the Metropolitan Police, told Sky News that she would not leave her post and that the circumstances surrounding Everard’s death have inspired her to carry on.
Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, set out on the 50-minute walk home from a friend’s house in south London at about 9 p.m. on March 3. She never arrived. On Friday police confirmed that a body found hidden in woodland 50 miles southeast of the city is hers.
London police arrested a member of the force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command on Tuesday as a suspect in the case. Late Friday police charged the officer, Constable Wayne Couzens, with kidnapping and murder. Couzens, 48, was due to appear in court on Saturday.
A crowd of people disregarded COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday night and gathered to mourn the woman’s suspected killing and used the tragedy to underscore the dangers that women face in the city. Some in the crowd held signs with messages such as, “We will not be silenced,” “We live in fear,” and “Women’s rights are human rights,” while others waved anti-police slogans.
Officers were sharply criticized after images surfaced of police aggressively “manhandling” and handcuffing upset mourners at the vigil. The New York Times reported that hundreds of protesters shouted at police in a park in Clapham, “Arrest your own!” and “Hey mister, get your hands off my sister.”
The Times wrote that cops “wrestled shocked young women to the ground, London’s Metropolitan Police could scarcely have provided a better example of what women were protesting if they had set out intentionally to do so.”
The Financial Times reported that Sir Ed Davey called on Dick to tender her resignation immediately.
“People want ministers to act decisively, not play for time waiting for reports. It’s already crystal clear that what happened last night was a complete tactical and moral failure by the Met police,” he said.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and the Associated Press contributed to this report