Patsy Stevenson, student arrested at Sarah Everard vigil, says she was ‘terrified’
‘It turned very scary very quickly’
Patsy Stevenson, the student arrested at the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard, has said she was “terrified”.
The physics student at Royal Holloway appeared on Good Morning Britain this morning, talking about her arrest.
Whilst attending the vigil in memory of Sarah Everard, and in support of the wider movement around women’s safety, Patsy was pictured being pinned to the ground by police officers and arrested. She says she was then fined £200.
— Alastair Johnstone (@a_lastair) March 13, 2021
‘I was only there to lay a candle down’
Patsy told GMB she went along to the vigil to as she wanted to pay respects and show support to Sarah Everard and her family.
She’d seen posts on social media recently, where women asked each other what they would do if there were “no men for 24 hours”, and noticed many of the responses said they would simply walk the streets at night with their headphones in.”I thought ‘how strange'”, Patsy said, “that a lot of women are saying this and we don’t have the freedom to do that”.
When she arrived at Clapham Common, it “wasn’t massively packed” and people were social distancing. There were a few women on the bandstand talking into a speaker, “and then the police came in”.
She could see police talking the to women on the bandstand so she was “worried” and wanted to “make sure everyone was safe”, so Patsy says she “carefully” moved flowers out of the way and went on to the bandstand too. She was trying to make sure “no manhandling was done”, as police “pushed” them towards a railing.
The women were trying to hold on to each other, and Patsy says: “We were terrified, because we hear about police manhandling women”. She says one was “trying to pull” her arm, a woman next to her had “police was trying to get her round her neck”, and another was “being pulled back”.
‘I’ve never been so scared’
“I didn’t expect for it to happen so quickly”, Patsy says. “I still don’t know why I was pushed to the ground so forcefully. I’m quite small and it was two very large male officers who pulled me back very quickly, and I hit the ground. From start to finish it was a whirlwind.”
Then Patsy was “pinned to the ground” – she wasn’t resisting, and she was “terrified”. “I’ve never been so scared,” Patsy says.
Patsy understands police “have to do their job”, but says: “All we wanted was for women to be able to mourn in a safe way and share each other’s company in a safe space.”
People were trying to social distance, and it was intended to be a “safe vigil”. Patsy says she wasn’t meant to go to the vigil for long – she just wanted to place a candle and flowers, and “show solidarity with other women”. But she stayed longer because the police came, saying: “It turned very scary very quickly”.
She didn’t know what to do when she was arrested: “I’ve never been arrested, I’m not an activist or a protestor”. She gave the police her details, but says “I wasn’t really sure why I was arrested because I was stood there sort of doing nothing.”
Patsy was let out after 20 minutes, and given a £200 fine.
‘I’m not hired by anyone’
Patsy Stevenson also addressed theories she’s a paid actress, and stressed she is not. An acting profile going around social media is “an old profile from years back,” Patsy said. “I’m not hired by anyone. I just wanted to put a candle down.”
She said: “I’m not an actress. I study at university where I’m an ambassador for women in STEM and women in physics.”