A vigil for Sarah Everard, the 33-year-old British woman who went missing on March 3 and was later found deceased, escalated Saturday night hours after a London Metropolitan Police officer was charged in her killing.
A crowd of protestors gathered at Clapham Common, a park in south London, around 6 p.m. to pay their respects for Everard before police arrived on the scene, according to The Evening Standard.
"Shame on you," members of the crowd yelled at law enforcement, along with a chorus of booing.
Boos, cries of “shame on you” and “let her speak” as police force their way onto the bandstand pic.twitter.com/J3ZeG4lZDb— Calgie (@christiancalgie) March 13, 2021
Tensions increased after 48-year-old police officer Wayne Couzens was charged with the kidnapping and murder of Everard on Friday, CNN reports.
On Saturday, police and protestors clashed after law enforcement tried to clear the area. Police claimed that the gathering was "unsafe" a violation of health regulations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The gathering at #ClaphamCommon is unsafe. Hundreds of people are tightly packed together in breach of the regulations and risking public health.— Lambeth Police | Central South BCU (@LambethMPS) March 13, 2021
We are urging people to go home and we thank those who have been engaging with officers and who are leaving.#ReclaimTheseStreets
Law enforcement forcefully removed protestors, making several arrests in the process. The majority of those taken into custody were female, according to reports from multiple outlets.
Everard's death has prompted a wave of nationwide outrage over the dangers women face while if they choose to walk in the streets at night as well as sexual assault. Critics have accused law enforcement of not taking action on the issue, Reuters reports.
Everard's disappearance and subsequent death has prompted many women worldwide to share their experiences of fear walking home alone in the dark, sparking the social media campaign "Text me when you get home" to trend on various platforms.
Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, stopped by the makeshift memorial at Clapham Common Bandstand hours before the vigil Saturday, stating she "remembers what it was like to walk around London at night before she was married," according to Reuters.
The outlet also reported that England's Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to take action on the issue, saying, "I will do everything I can to make sure the streets are safe and ensure women and girls do not face harassment or abuse."