For the past week and a half, we have watched a tragedy unfold right here in our neighbourhood. Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman, left her friend’s house on the street directly adjacent to our block, and began walking home to Brixton, across Clapham Common. She never arrived home.
About a day later, I started receiving messages from people sharing the information that a woman had disappeared from our area. Missing person fliers appeared on every post around here.
A massive search took place over the following days, with police combing Clapham Common and knocking on doors, asking people to check their doorbell camera footage from the night she disappeared. Helicopters hovered over our typically quiet (by the standards of a major city, anyway) neighbourhood.
Doorbell cam footage did help them narrow down where she was abducted, which was beyond the common, about a half-hour walk from here. Somehow, they managed to trace the trail all the way out to Kent, where they arrested a police officer, who is now on trial for kidnap and murder. The search ended when they found human remains, also in Kent, which they’ve identified as Sarah.
Last night, there was supposed to be a vigil held at the Clapham Common bandstand, but organisers were told that it was against the current COVID-19 lockdown rules, and we were told to hold a doorstep vigil instead, lighting candles in front of our houses. Officially, the organisers canceled the in-person vigil. Unofficially, it very much still happened, with tons of people turning up, nearly all wearing face masks and assembling peacefully.
What was mostly a somber and peaceful vigil for Sarah apparently also became a protest rally against violence towards women, at least for some of the people in attendance, and the images in the news this morning were of women being pinned down and handcuffed by police officers. In case you forgot, it was a police officer who killed Sarah.
This feels very reminiscent of the Black Lives Matter protests in the States, where people gather to call attention to police brutality, and then they get broken up or arrested by police, who exert force against them. And round and round it goes.
I went by the bandstand this morning to pay my respects, along with everyone else in the area.
There was a steady flow of people arriving with still more flowers. Many people just stood quietly, reflective.
I chose to do something a little different than leave flowers among the thousands encircling the bandstand, and made a mouse holding a flower to go into the mouse hole, with a little candle. I thought this might be appreciated by the passersby, and maybe people will add some small flowers to it, too. Sarah, and violence against women, are very much on everyone’s mind around here right now.
I’m also running a contest on Instagram to give away a prize of a custom/bespoke mouse. To be entered in the contest, you need to make a donation (any amount) to an organisation that works to help women who are the victims of violence or abuse, or that works to prevent violence towards women. Send me a screenshot of your donation, and I’ll enter you in the contest to win a mouse made to your specifications.
The winner will be chosen at random on Sunday, 21 March, 2021, at 8 p.m. GMT.
I don’t have any idea how many entries I’ll get. If it raises some awareness, and a little bit of money for some important charity work, that’s at least me doing something, which is better than doing nothing.
We females want to be able to feel as safe as males do when simply walking home at night. We don’t. We never have. And it’s not OK.
Rest in peace, Sarah. I hope and pray something good can come out of this awful tragedy.