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Don’t be fooled by the Met’s ‘anger’ and ‘devastation’ at Sarah Everard’s murder. The institution is complicit.

Flowers and notes at demonstration following the murder of Sarah Everard

Content warning: the article below contains material some readers may find distressing

On 30 September, Lord Justice Fulford handed down a whole life sentence to Wayne Couzens for the “devastating, tragic and wholly brutal” murder of Sarah Everard. Couzens was a serving Metropolitan Police officer when he kidnapped, raped and murdered Everard. He remained an officer after police arrested him in March. The force eventually sacked him in July, over a month after Couzens pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and rape of Everard, and a week after he pleaded guilty to her murder. Although the Met Police has attempted to distance itself from Couzens’ actions, campaigners have been quick to highlight that the institution is wholly complicit in Everard’s murder.

Another death in police custody

On 29 September, Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey for his sentencing in the kidnap, rape and murder of Everard. The court heard that Couzens – who was a serving Met Police officer at the time – handcuffed and falsely arrested Everard on 3 March in Clapham. Couzens showed Everard his warrant card before restraining her. Someone witnessed the off-duty officer handcuffing Everard and leading her to his car. They assumed that the young woman “must have done something wrong”. After kidnapping her, Couzens raped and murdered Everard, and left her body in the countryside.

Reflecting on the devastating details of Everard’s murder, Roxy Legane tweeted:

Jason Okundaye shared:

In court, it emerged that Couzens may have may have used coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown regulations to stop Everard, who was on her way home. Underlining the injustices of the unprecedented restrictions and new police powers that the government introduced in the wake of the pandemic, Moya Lothian-McLean tweeted:

Sarah Everard’s horrifying death drew widespread attention. But people from Black and other racially minoritised groups are overrepresented in the number of deaths following police contact. Urging people to critically assess officers’ conduct on the streets, Kojo Coram shared:

Not just ‘one bad apple’

Scotland Yard issued a statement ahead of Couzens’ sentencing, saying

Georgia Lewis responded:

Pre-empting the force’s attempts to distance itself from Couzens’ heinous crimes, feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut tweeted:

Otegha Uwagba also shared:

Sharing this sentiment, Black Lives Matter UK shared:

Underlining the toxic culture and lack of accountability inherent in the country’s police forces, Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome shared:

Feminist campaign group Level Up added:

Calling for institutional accountability, senior researcher at the Center for Countering Digital Hate Sophie Wilkinson tweeted:

No more police powers

Highlighting the devastating impact of the government’s ‘law and order’ response to Everard’s murder, one Twitter user shared:

Expanded police powers will hit people from already overpoliced and underprotected communities hardest – working class communities, communities of colour, disabled people, queer folks, and people from marginalised genders. Urging people to resist the inevitable expansion of police powers in response to Everard’s case, Ilyas Nagdee tweeted:

Shahed Ezaydi explains carceral feminism as “feminism that pushes for increased policing, surveillance, and harsher laws and policies when dealing with gendered violence”. This is based on the flawed assumption that these systems and institutions are fundamentally just, supportive and benevolent to all victims and survivors. Seeking abolitionist alternatives to carceral feminist solutions to gendered violence, Sisters Uncut has launched a Copwatch Police Intervention project:

Anyone looking to get involved in the Sisters Uncut’s new programme can sign up via the organisation’s online form. The horrifying details of Couzens’ conduct, and the lack of institutional accountability regarding the case show us just how vital it is that we maintain momentum in resisting the state’s increasingly authoritarian agenda.

Featured image via Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash

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