A vigil for Sarah Everard in Clapham this evening has been cancelled following discussions with police, with organisers instead encouraging people to shine a light on their doorstep at 9.30pm.
A fundraising page set up by the Reclaim These Streets group had raised more than £217,000 by 3pm on Saturday.
Speaking to Sky News, the group’s co-organiser Caitlin Prowle said: “We are asking all of our supporters in London, and also beyond, to hold a candle or a light in their doorstep or in their streets at 9:30pm this evening to remember Sarah Everard, and also all the other women that we’ve lost to violence so tragically.”
The group said it would join others in “shining a light – a candle, a torch, a phone – to remember Sarah Everard and all the women affected by and lost to violence”.
The group had been in talks with the Metropolitan Police about how the event could go ahead after they were warned the gathering would be in breach of lockdown.
In the statement they said: “We have been very disappointed that given the many opportunities to engage with organisers constructively, the Metropolitan Police have been unwilling to commit to anything.
“It remains our view that with the appropriate mutually agreed measures in place, this evening’s vigil on Clapham Common would have been safe and in line with restrictions and safety regulations.”
The Metropolitan Police released a statement, in which Commander Catherine Roper said that they “have shared Londoners’ anguish, shock and sadness at the truly awful circumstances of her disappearance and death”.
Before the discussions with police concluded, several people said they would go to Clapham Common today to commemorate Ms Everard regardless of the outcome – but this is now being advised against by Reclaim These Streets with the doorstep vigil encouraged instead.
Ms Prowle said: “The physical event has been stopped, but we are very much still forging ahead with plans online and through social media and we still want people to get involved with that, if possible.”
In the statement from the capital’s police, Commander Roper said: “We take no joy in this event being cancelled, but it is the right thing to do given the real and present threat of COVID-19.
“Throughout the week we have had a number of talks with the organisers of the vigil.
“These talks have undoubtedly been challenging and officers have worked hard to explain the regulations and why gatherings such as this cannot go ahead at this time.”
Yesterday it was announced that a serving Metropolitan Police officer had been charged with kidnapping and murdering Ms Everard, who went missing in south London last week.
Wayne Couzens appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court this morning.
The case will next be heard at the Old Bailey on 16 March.