Watch: Sarah Everard vigil protester: ‘I’ve never been so scared’
A protester who was pictured being pinned to the ground by police at a vigil for Sarah Everard has said she has “never been so scared”.
Patsy Stevenson told ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB) that she was “terrified” during the incident at the bandstand in Clapham Common, south London, on Saturday evening.
Images showed officers pressing the student against the ground before arresting her during the vigil for Ms Everard, 33, who went missing while walking home from a friend’s house on 3 March.
Ms Everard’s remains were found in woodland in Kent and Met Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with her kidnap and murder.
On Monday, Stevenson, 28, told GMB presenters Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard: “I was terrified. I have never been so scared, honestly.
“I think what was scary as well was as soon as I was pinned to the ground, I looked up and there were cameras everywhere. I was like, 'Oh my God, this is big.'
“I didn’t realise they had even pinned me to the ground for a second. It just like happened so fast and then I was on the ground. I was like, ‘I am on the ground, I am very small.’ I wasn’t resisting or anything.
“I still don’t know why I was pushed to the ground so forcefully. I am quite small and it was two very large male officers who sort of pulled me back very quickly and then I hit the ground.
“From start to finish it was just a sort of whirlwind, it happened very quickly. I was only there to lay a candle down, I did not expect that to happen.”
There have been calls for Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to resign over her force’s handling of the vigil.
The event was initially organised by Reclaim These Streets before it was cancelled following consultation with the Metropolitan Police, which said it would be in breach of coronavirus laws.
Asked on Good Morning Britain if she had watched back the footage from the vigil, Stevenson said: “Of course, I have watched it several times. It is absolutely everywhere you look.
“At that moment there is a police officer by the side of me trying to pull my arm and at one point I pull it away. He was saying, ‘What is your name? Tell me your name, tell me your address.’
“I have never been arrested, I have never been to one of these things. I am not like an activist or protester. I just stood there and was like, ‘OK, I am not going to say anything.’ I just tried to look to one side. I didn’t want to retaliate, I didn’t want to react to any of it.
“I wasn’t really sure why I was arrested because I was stood there doing nothing in a way. I was let out sort of 20 minutes after and then after that I was given a fine of £200. I appreciate a lot of people have said they will pay for it, I appreciate that fully but I put myself in that position and that comes down to me.”
When asked if she had concerns about attending the vigil during the coronavirus pandemic, she said: “I fully understand that police have to do their job. I am not against police.
“But you know the organisers were trying to get it so that the police were involved in a safe way and make sure everyone was maintaining social distance.
“All we wanted was that women were able to mourn and share each other’s company in a safe space, and it wasn’t allowed to go ahead. I think people were angry with that.”
Asked if she had a message for Dame Cressida, Stevenson said: “As someone who does stand up for women’s rights and things like that, I don’t have, it’s not that I don’t have an opinion but to be honest, I think we need to get the message away from, ‘We are against the police, the police did wrong’ and focus on the main message which is, ‘We now need to open a dialogue for change and to support women’s safety.’
"You know, this needs to happen now.”
Watch: Met Police chief defies calls to quit over Sarah Everard vigil