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Met Police criticised for ‘deeply disturbing’ clashes at Sarah Everard vigil

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The Metropolitan Police has faced intense criticism for its handling of a London vigil in memory of Sarah Everard with officers accused of “grabbing and manhandling” women during clashes with the crowd.

While the vigil in Clapham south London, was largely peaceful, scuffles broke out at the front of a crowd of hundreds as police surrounded a bandstand covered in floral tributes to the 33-year-old.

At one stage, male officers could be seen grabbing hold of several women before leading them away in handcuffs, to shouts and screams from onlookers.

In response, the crowd chanted “shame on you”, while during another confrontation a distressed woman could be heard telling officers “you’re supposed to protect us”.

The clashes prompted a chorus of criticism from MPs, including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who described the scenes as “deeply disturbing”.

“Women came together to mourn Sarah Everard – they should have been able to do so peacefully,” he tweeted.

“I share their anger and upset at how this has been handled. This was not the way to police this protest.”

Hundreds of people converged on the south London park despite an official vigil being called off earlier in the day due to police warnings over coronavirus restrictions.

While the Clapham clashes took place, many other peaceful vigils were held around the country in locations including Glasgow, Nottingham, Birmingham and Bristol – despite warnings over lockdown.

A virtual event was also held at 6pm in which campaigners called for more to be done to tackle violence against women.

Sarah Everard death / PA Wire

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