Nottingham fell silent as the city showed their solidarity for Sarah Everard in Saturday’s vigil

Residents came together safely to pay their respects

Nottingham has been praised for the peaceful and unproblematic vigil that was held in the city centre on Saturday night.

Over 100 people gathered in silence in front of the Brian Clough statue, taking turns to light candles, write messages to and lay flowers for Sarah Everard who was kidnapped and murdered by Met Police officer Wayne Couzens last week.

Nottingham’s vigil was strikingly still in contrast to the violent and out of control scenes that were taking place in London at the same time. The capital’s vigil has been described as being more like a ‘protest‘, as images of officers grabbing women and leading them away in handcuffs circle across social media platforms.

The Brian Clough statue in the city centre during the vigil

Katherine Harlow, detailed her experience at the vigil: “I thought it was really well organised by the two groups Nottingham People’s Assembly & Nottingham Women for Change and everyone that was there was socially distanced and wore masks, so Covid guidelines were adhered to by everyone.

“I found the vigil really beautiful, especially the minutes silence that we had because people respected it, even the people who were walking past were silent when they realised what was going on. The speech from one of the people who attended was incredibly moving because it was so powerful in describing what women go through and it made quite a few of us tear up and it got a huge round of applause because it was beautiful.

“In terms of the police presence, I didn’t even notice it until another group turned up behind us and brought their microphone and sound system out, but the police were respectful of us and one of the policewomen actually lit a candle for Sarah which was quite a poignant image. I don’t remember them saying anything to us other than to disperse after the other group turned up but that was pretty much all I remember them saying/doing in Nottingham.

“I’m angry and disappointed that it turned out the way it did in London, it shouldn’t have gotten out of hand like that and I’m quite disgusted by the actions of those police officers who dragged and assaulted people at a peaceful vigil to mourn the loss of Sarah. I’m unsure why it was so different, but I think the police in Clapham handled it appallingly and it’s a shame they couldn’t have been more respectful like they were in Nottingham.”

Candles and flowers were left in tribute to Sarah Everard

The Nottingham Tab also spoke to the organisers, Nottingham People’s Assembly regarding their response to the weekend’s vigil: “We believe that streets should be safe for women, regardless of what you wear, where you live or what time of day or night it is. We shouldn’t have to wear bright colours when we walk home and clutch our keys in our fists to feel safe.

“It’s wrong that the response to violence against women requires women to behave differently. In Clapham, police told women not to go out at night this week. Women are not the problem.

“We’ve all been following the tragic case of Sarah Everard over the last week. We organised a vigil for Sarah, but also for all women who feel unsafe, who go missing from our streets and who face violence every day.

“Our event was safe, socially distanced and well attended. Police attended but kept their distance. When the event was over, attendees dispersed without police violence. This shows policing by consent is possible and the response to the Clapham vigil was a choice not a necessity.

“Trying to ban protest using public health as a cover is an atrocious attack on democracy from the police and should never be excused, tolerated or in any way accepted. Especially not when it is clear male violence and a lack of care from the entire criminal justice system in the face of such violence is a public health concern for women and girls.

“Women’s voices must be heard. Male violence against women and girls must be eradicated. Our work continues with the “Women’s Big Conversation: Reclaim These Streets, what next” event Saturday 27th March 4pm.”