UK Reclaim These Streets vigils in memory of Sarah Everard likely to go ahead - despite warnings from police

Friday, 12th March 2021, 1:24 pm
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 1:24 pm
UK Reclaim These Streets vigils in memory of Sarah Everard likely to go ahead - despite warnings from police (Photo: Shutterstock)

A number of vigils in memory of Sarah Everard will take place all over the UK this weekend, despite police warnings that some events could be unlawful.

Vigils have been organised in Edinburgh, London, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham and more locations, under the banner Reclaim These Streets.

There will also be a number of online vigils, with details of all the different events forthcoming on the official Reclaim These Streets Facebook and Twitter accounts.

When will the vigils take place?

All the vigils will take place this Saturday (13 March) at 6pm, with attendees observing social distancing measures and encouraged to wear face coverings throughout.

The vigils will involve a one and a half minute silence to remember Sarah Everard, “and all women lost to violence”.

The vigils were organised after it was revealed that Sarah Everard, 33, was likely kidnapped and murdered after walking home on Wednesday last week, with a serving Metropolitan Police officer arrested in connection with the case.

Many people have expressed their shock and disgust at the case, which has prompted a discussion across social media about the expectations on women to alter their behaviour and go to extreme lengths simply in order to remain safe.

The event’s name is inspired by a campaign named Reclaim the Night, which was set up in Leeds in 1977, in protest against the response to the Yorkshire Ripper murders, which focused on telling women to avoid public spaces after dark.

Police response

The organisers of the main vigil, held in the park where Ms Everard was last seen, say they originally received a positive response from police when they reached out about the vigil.

However, last night (11 Mar) they received correspondence suggesting that the organisers may be liable to face significant fines of up “tens of thousands of pounds” if the events go ahead.

A team of human rights lawyers working on behalf of the Reclaim These Streets organisers have written to the Metropolitan Police, arguing that the vigils will be within the law and that they should be allowed to go ahead.

‘For all women who feel unsafe’

As a precautionary measure in case the organisers are fined, Reclaim These Streets managed to raise £30,000 overnight to pay the fines if they are levied against the organisers. If not, the money will be donated in full to a women’s charity.

In a statement released by Reclaim These Streets last night, the organisers said: “We’ve all been following the tragic case of Sarah Everard over the last week. This is a vigil for Sarah, but also for all women who feel unsafe, who go missing from our streets and who face violence every day.

“By forcing us to cancel the Reclaim These Streets vigil, the Metropolitan police will be silencing thousands of women like us who want to honour Sarah’s memory and stand up for our right to feel safe on our streets.”