A group styling themselves Womens Voice Hastings planned to hold a vigil last Saturday evening at St Leonards Gardens to protest at the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard and at other acts of violence perpetrated by men against women. They say they made huge efforts to ensure that the event would be conducted in a “Covid-safe” matter, preparing marshalls in high-vis jackets  and undertaking site-specific risk assessments. However, although the local police force had appeared to be sympathetic, the national police stance “changed the picture” according to the group’s Instagram posting earlier in the day, and the event was formally cancelled, replaced by an online meeting.

A significant number of people did, however, attend the Peace Garden in Alexandra Park informally, many leaving banners and placards carrying messages of solidarity with the victims of gender-related violence.

A related group organising under the title Reclaim the Night Hastings posted a further message on social media yesterday (Monday) stating that from 6.30 pm this Saturday 20th March they will be holding another online vigil event. It will include speakers who have experienced sexual violence and harassment, readings from artists and women’s rights organisations, “and provide us all with a chance to mourn”.

They describe it as “primarily a women’s event” but point out that “allies are welcome” as “without the support of men we will not achieve the change that is so essential”.

The zoom link to join the vigil on Saturday is https://fb.me/e/1EfC3Kmbo

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