Video report by ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw
Plans for a number of large vigils in Kent and Sussex, in memory of Sarah Everard, have been called off because of coronavirus restrictions.
Events had been planned for Saturday evening in dozens of towns and cities – including Margate, Folkestone, Brighton and Worthing – as part of the national #ReclaimTheseStreets movement.
But most have now been cancelled, following a similar decision by organisers of a vigil in Clapham, south London, after they failed in a legal challenge to overturn a police ban on demonstrations.
That event was planned for a park near to where the 33-year-old, whose body was formally identified on Friday, went missing.
In a post on Facebook, organisers in Brighton said they’d had to “take the heartbreaking decision to cancel the planned vigil” because of the threat of “police enforcement” and a possible “£10,000 fine”.
Sussex Police said in a statement: “For those considering organising or attending a public vigil this weekend, we ask and encourage you to seek alternative ways to remember Sarah in accordance with [coronavirus] regulations.”
Those behind a planned vigil in Margate said they were “disappointed and saddened” to have to call it off but couldn’t “risk anyone's financial or legal position”.
Kent Police said it “understands the strength of feeling in Kent and the desire to come together to pay respect to Sarah Everard” but “it is important however that we all continue to follow the government’s rules in the midst of a global pandemic”.
In Canterbury, campaigners have asked those wanting to share a message, to leave a painted stone on the footpath next to the Great Stour. This morning, dozens of stones had been left, along with placards, roses and red shoes. One of the organisers, Mel Garnett, said: “I wanted to find a different way of letting the voices of women in Canterbury and in our community be heard, when so often they’re silenced.”
Emma Dondi-Smith, who left a message and pair of red shoes on Saturday morning, said: “Ideally we would have held a vigil but I understand it’s important we all stay safe as well. This way people can still feel the support of the community and everyone can read these messages and start to understand the problems.” Some campaigners are encouraging those who want to show support and solidarity to take part in a doorstep vigil at 9.30pm (Saturday, 13 March), the time Sarah Everard was last seen alive.