It would have been a peaceful vigil. Women laid flowers for Sarah Everard, lit candles, held placards: “She was walking home,” read one. “We will not stop until women are safe,” another said. The Duchess of Cambridge was there, quietly adding a bouquet to the tributes. It would have been a peaceful vigil, and then it wasn’t anymore. Now the defining image of the protest on Clapham Common isn’t the flowers or the candles or the placards. It’s of a young woman, pinned to the ground by male police officers, eyes wide over her mask.
It is hard to imagine how this could look worse. The man charged with abducting and murdering Everard is a serving police officer; and the Independent Office for Police Conduct is now investigating the Met over its handling of various matters relating to the case. All week we women had been asking ourselves why we don’t feel safe in public spaces, why we so rarely report assaults to the police and why we get so little justice when we do.
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