Policing / Protest rights / Women's rights

Liberty responds to judgment on the policing of the vigil for Sarah Everard

Posted on 11 Mar 2022

The High Court has found the Metropolitan Police breached the rights of people who attended a vigil for Sarah Everard, in a case brought by Reclaim These Streets.

When something terrible happens, and when our safety is threatened, we should be able to come together in solidarity. To grieve, comfort one another and demand positive change.

After a serving officer murdered Sarah Everard, police were given the choice on how to approach the vigil that had been planned in her memory. They chose to suppress it and to trample on the rights of its attendees. They put people’s health at risk and created chaos and distress.

The true architect of this disaster was the Home Secretary, and successive Governments who have demonised protesters and encouraged and facilitated more aggressive policing against them by implementing greater measures of control and surveillance. They have undermined a vital pillar of democracy in the process, and are entrenching this power grab in the Policing Bill, which will further criminalise people who want to have their voices heard.

Even before today’s judgment, it has never been clearer that more police powers will not keep us safe. Those who are most at risk of having our rights abused will be even less able to hold the powerful to account. Through the Policing Bill, the Judicial Review Bill, the Elections Bill and the overhaul of the Human Rights Act, the Government is attempting to make itself untouchable.

We all have a right to speak out against abuse of power. But this right is under attack – in Parliament, in the Courts and in the streets. We must protect each other, and protect the power of all of us to stand up for what we believe in.

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