Sarah Everard: Patsy Stevenson - the woman held down at vigil - raises £10k for legal case against Met Police
“We all wanted to stand up for women everywhere. Women are being murdered just for being women.”
Activist and student Patsy Stevenson was charged by the Met for breaching Covid-19 laws by attending a vigil held in memory of the 33-year-old marketing executive, murdered by serving armed cop Wayne Couzens, on Clapham Common on March 13, 2021.
Her photo went viral after attending the protest, where she was photographed being held down by officers during her arrest.
She has now launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for her legal case against the force, which has so far raised £10,937 of her £25,000 target, via 515 pledges.
Ms Stevenson said: “I attended the vigil with a friend following Sarah’s death. I wanted to pay my respects and grieve with other women who felt impacted by this act of violence.
“What we were met with were male officers who used physical force to suppress us.
“I was forcibly removed from the bandstand, taken to the ground by a male police officer, handcuffed and arrested.
“Later on I was issued a fixed penalty notice for attending the vigil.”
She added: “I want to challenge the legality of this ill-treatment by the police, which other women were also subjected to.
“This case is significant for those who have been made to feel that they should not be speaking up about violence against women and girls.
“For those who have had to deal with pressure from friends and family, and the police themselves, telling them they should not have attended.
“We all wanted to stand up for women everywhere. Women are being murdered just for being women.
“All we wanted was a space to collectively grieve and express anger, but this was denied to us. “
Feminist activists Reclaim These Streets (RTS) attempted to organise a socially-distanced vigil on March 13 but cancelled the event after being told they risked fines of up to £10,000.
The organisers have since fought and won a high court battle, with the judge finding the Met breached their human rights by preventing them holding the planned event that Saturday.
However, women - including the Duchess of Cambridge - laid flowers at the south London bandstand anyway, before police broke up the gathering with violent arrests, sparking outcry.
Six people have since been charged with breaching coronavirus restrictions over the event.
It comes after the police issued nine fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to people who had attended - seven of which were not paid.
Six individuals were charged with participating in a gathering of more than two people in a public outdoor place in a Covid-19 Tier 4 area, with no further action taken in one case.
At least two women - Dania Al-Obeid and Jeni Edmunds, represented by lawyer Pippa Woodrow, of Doughty Street Chambers - wish to bring their cases together under one trial.
Ms Stevenson, who said her legal team have written to the Met, to challenge the legality of her arrest and treatment, is fundraising to be able to continue her court battle.
She added: “This case is also for the ones who cannot take theirs forward – whether it is because of the lack of availability of funding, because they are scared, or to protect themselves against reliving the trauma.
“I really hope this case will give others some courage to stand up for what they believe in and know no matter how big the fight, no matter what title the police have, no matter how great the power imbalance - you can fight them.
“If someone abuses their power, they must be held accountable.”
The Met Police declined to comment.