When night fell in the south of London, where Sarah Everard made her final steps ten days ago, the clouds parted for one last ray of sunshine.
At the Clapham kiosk, where thousands had begun gathering for a vigil allegedly canceled because of Covid, someone began beating a drum: its predictable rhythm was reminiscent of the raft of casual misogyny that people said had arrived. to highlight.
Couples held candles, roommates had flowers; there were many men as well as women, and when darkness fell, for a minute, they fell silent thinking of a 33-year-old Everard, whose only misfortune seems to have been to be alone in the street after nightfall.
Everard was snatched from a busy road while walking home from a friend around 9.30pm on March 3 in this residential area of London.
The chance of her disappearance and the circumstances in which she disappeared has left women throughout the capital bewildered. Thousands have shared their own experiences of bullying or harassment while walking alone at night.
The fact that the suspect was one of the service officers made this vigil a difficult event for London police to monitor.
At first, it looked like they had made an effort to get the right optics, putting female and male police officers in equal numbers among the crowd.
Less than an hour after the meeting began, officers moved to remind people that they were in breach of coronavirus regulations and had to leave.
Shortly afterwards, more agents were installed, mostly men, who said they were now ordering people to go or be fined. Arguments erupted.
One woman said, “I can’t go home. I’m afraid to go home. I have to walk home.”
The scene was then assaulted with women handcuffed and dragged to police vans. The crowd shouted, “Shame,” “Leave them alone,” and “Arrest yours.”
The mayor of London demanded an explanation and politicians on the left and right expressed outrage at the disproportionate use of force, some even calling for the Met chief to resign, herself a woman.
Like the drum beat, this turn of events also felt predictable.
“It doesn’t look good for the Met tonight, does it?” said a man moved. “Just let these people have their time,” he shouted.
Everard’s death has sparked this moment: a moment of national reckoning about women’s rights in the UK, which he had long been waiting for, and calls for new laws recognizing misogyny as a hate crime.
This week, countless Londoners have wondered why it took a senseless death for young women for the outpouring of outrage to finally erupt.
The answer may lie in how quickly the vigil was silenced on Saturday.
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