Reclaim The Night Leeds vigil for Sarah Everard warned of police fines if it goes ahead in street

A vigil planned in Leeds in memory of Sarah Everard has been moved to online only.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 3:48 pm
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 3:50 pm

The organisers of the event, Reclaim the Night Leeds, said West Yorkshire Police had warned them they would be fined if the event went ahead.

It comes after the organisers of a similar event in London said they were taking legal action after claiming police reversed a decision on allowing it to go ahead.

Ms Everard vanished while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London on March 3, with her suspected kidnap and murder prompting anger over the safety of women on the UK’s streets.

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Sarah Everard (photo: SWNS).

Human remains – now identified to belong to Ms Everard – were found in an area of woodland in Ashford, in Kent, on Wednesday.

Reclaim the Night Leeds had initially proposed a gathering on the steps of the Parkinson Building at 6pm on Saturday, but said this afternoon (Friday) they had decided to move the event to a Facebook broadcast only.

In a statement, the organisers said: "I am sure many of you are aware that Reclaim the Streets in Clapham Common has faced a lot of resistance from the police and been told they will get fined if they go ahead with the vigil.

"They have luckily raised enough money to challenge the police, however our own vigil is facing similar resistance from the West Yorkshire Police."

The Parkinson Building at the University of Leeds.

They said they visited police and told them the vigil would follow Covid rules, including spare masks, hand sanitisers and a designated marshal enforcing social distancing - and officers told them this would be OK.

But the organisers said they have since been told by police that the event would be breaking the law.

They added: "We therefore have decided to take the vigil solely online, as we want this vigil to happen.

"If anyone does go to Parkinson steps, that is your decision to face a fine, we as a group are no longer encouraged in person meetings.

"This is for the memory of Sarah. It is for the memory of all the women who have not made it to the news, it is to stand in solidarity with each other. We will not be silenced."

People are being encouraged to leave flowers or posters on the steps before the livestream.

The University of Leeds has also granted the organisers permission to light up the Parkinson building white and purple for the event.

West Yorkshire Police have been contacted for comment.

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