Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old British marketing executive, was walking home to Brixton, South London, at around 9:30pm local time on Wednesday Mar. 3, when she went missing.
She had just met a friend and had called her boyfriend to tell him that she would meet him the next day as she walked home. The next day, Everard’s boyfriend called the police when she didn’t meet him.
On Mar. 10, police found human remains in a bag in a wooded area in Kent in southeastern England. Two days later, on Mar. 12, the remains confirmed to be Everard’s body through dental records.
Wayne Couzens, a 48-year-old police officer from the Metropolitan Police, has been charged with her kidnap and murder. Couzens had been arrested on Mar. 9 on suspicion of kidnapping and was re-arrested with the suspicion of murder following the discovery of Everard’s body.
Everard’s disappearance sparked the anger of women, many of whom have since spoken out on social media about their own experiences of being harassed, abused or followed.
A vigil planned for Saturday Mar. 13 was cancelled after police refused to grant organizers a permit over COVID-19 restrictions.
Hundreds of people still gathered on Saturday to mourn Everard at Clapham Common, a park she had walked through the day of the crime, carrying signs saying “She was just walking home,” and “We are the 97 percent”, referencing a recent study that showed 97 percent of all British women had been faced harassement.
Mourners were met with violence from the police. Videos and photos showed police handcuffing and removing women from the gathering. Four people were arrested for breaching public order and coronavirus regulations, according to the Met Police.
The police’s actions have been widely criticized, and people are calling for Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to resign.
Dick has defended the force’s actions and refused to step down. “What has happened makes me more determined, not less, to lead my organization,” she said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the police’s actions “unacceptable” and said he was “not satisfied” with Dick’s explanation of the police’s actions when he spoke to her, The Independent reported.
On Sunday Mar. 14, thousands of people held a demonstration in London against the police’s actions, marching to New Scotland Yard in protest.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday Mar. 15 that he was “deeply concerned” with the police’s actions and will chair a taskforce meeting to discuss what actions are needed to make streets safer for women, the BBC reported.