'I was arrested by police for standing there'

Protester arrested at Sarah Everard's vigil on Clapham Common speaks out against the police's tactics.

Video Transcript

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

MARK WHITE: Outside Scotland Yard, another vigil for Sarah Everard and the issue of women's safety.

- Sisters united will never be defeated.

MARK WHITE: Despite clearly breaking lockdown rules, no intervention from police tonight and no arrests. The protest here a direct response to events on Clapham Common last night.

- Stand aside!

MARK WHITE: These scenes have been widely criticized, with claims police were too heavy-handed. Images of male officers wrestling some women to the ground are deeply uncomfortable. But the Met commissioner has doubled down on her defense of the officers. She said they'd attempted to advise a large crowd to comply with COVID regulations, but that some in the crowd had become hostile, and started pushing and throwing items.

CRESSIDA DICK: They have a really difficult job. They have to make fine judgments. They often don't have infinite information or all the time in the world. They have to make these really difficult calls. And I don't think anybody should be sitting back in an armchair and saying, well, that was done badly, or I would have done it differently.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

MARK WHITE: The image of Patsy Stevenson pinned down by officers has been seen around the world. She disputes the claim that people in the crowd were hostile.

PATSY STEVENSON: The fact that the police turned up was just disgraceful. Because before then, it was a peaceful protest. I was arrested by police for standing there. I wasn't doing anything. They threw me to the floor. There are pictures of me on the floor being arrested. And I'm 5' foot 2" and I weigh nothing.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

MARK WHITE: The commissioner's position has been made all the more precarious by the Home Secretary and the London mayor, who said they weren't satisfied with her explanation. They've asked Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to carry out an independent investigation. Despite the pressures, the commissioner says she has no intention of resigning.

CRESSIDA DICK: What happened to Sarah appalls me. As you know, I'm the first woman commissioner of the Met. Perhaps it appalls me, in a way, even more because of that. What has happened makes me more determined, not less, to lead my organization.

MARK WHITE: There are numerous examples where police have taken a more discreet approach. Despite COVID regulations last June, the Met facilitated Black Lives Matter marches, some officers even taking a knee in solidarity with protesters.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

And just last week in Glasgow, Police Scotland allowed Rangers supporters celebrating their club's league title win to gather and then disperse without intervening.

KEIR STARMER: They should have been allowed to protest, to have their vigil, to come together in peace. And I was very disturbed to see the police action. I think it was wrong. And I'm pleased it's now going to be reviewed.

- Shame on you! Shame on you!

MARK WHITE: The Scotland Yard vigil moved on to Parliament Square, with organizers of the original planned vigil in Clapham Common saying that they had desperately tried to reach a compromise with senior commanders to hold a more socially distanced event, but claim they were rebuffed.

[APPLAUSE]

That, they say, resulted in many more attending in defiance, some with a clear hostility towards the police.

- Resisting male violence, resisting police brutality!

MARK WHITE: It's one of the issues the Home Secretary will want to discuss further with the Met commissioner in the days ahead.

- Kill the bill!

MARK WHITE: Mark White, Sky News.

- Kill the bill!