Lewisham and Southwark Trades Union Councils have criticised the police response to the vigil for Sarah Everard and the death of Blessing Olusegun.  

Ms Everard, 33, vanished near Clapham Common on March 3 after leaving a friend’s home to walk home.   

Police officer Wayne Couzens was charged with her murder and kidnap after her body was found in a builder’s bag in Ashford woodland.   

Ms Olusegun was a 21-year-old business student from south east London.

She went to Bexhill on a one-week placement as a carer to help older people with dementia and other mental health issues. 

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Ms Olusegun was found dead on Bexhill beach on September 18, 2020, just after 6am.  

Police began an investigation and, at the time, her death was treated as “unexplained though not suspicious”.  

A postmortem found that Ms Olusegun died from drowning, while the force said there was no evidence of violence or of internal or external injury. 

President of Lewisham TUC, Cheryl McLeod, said: “We mourn Sarah Everard. The scene at the Clapham Common vigil was horrendous.  

“The Metropolitan Police tactics were heavy handed and provocative.  

“However, there is another death within our community, who like Sarah, was a woman who was walking alone.  

“Her name is Blessing Olusegun, a young African woman who came to an untimely death on the September 18, 2020. Blessing’s mother faced a wall of silence, this is almost deafening.  

“This was a young woman who was on a work placement away from home. We are demanding that the local police re-open this case and to undertake a thorough investigation into her death.  

“People of African heritage face discrimination in public services and the disparity between these cases should be addressed now if Black Lives Matter today. Enough is enough.”  

A vigil for Ms Everard on Clapham Common- organised by Reclaim These Streets – was cancelled after police threatened to fine organisers £10,000 for breaching Covid-19 rules.   

Thousands of people showed up anyway to show support but the evening was marred after police detained women at the vigil.   

The force’s actions have been widely condemned, though police defended their actions, claiming “hundreds of people were packed tightly together, posing a very real risk of easily transmitting Covid-19”.    

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The presidents of both TUCs, Ms McLeod and Arti Dillion voiced concern about why the vigil was not allowed to go ahead.   

“Instead the area had restricted space, and shocking brutal behaviour to attack young women on the bandstand.  

“The new police and covid restrictions are being used to undermine democratic accountability, which is essential to collectively grieve and seek justice,” they said. 

They also asked why there so “little mention in the media, or investigation into the death of another young woman’s death, Blessing Olusegun”.  

A petition calling for “justice for Blessing” had gained nearly 30,000 signatures at the time of writing. 

In a statement, the TUCs said: “Blessing’s mother Esther Abe is still demanding to know why her daughter died. This contrasts with the outrage from Reclaim The Streets around Sarah Everard.  

“There has not been the same vocal support by MPs and Peers discussing the horrific murder of Sarah’s death.  

“We need justice for Blessing and her family. We need fairness and we need democratic accountability of the police and government. 

“The pre-existing gender and racial inequality in society has meant that women, particularly working-class women, have been especially hit by the economic and social consequences of the Covid pandemic.  

“Our jobs, pay, hours and working conditions have all come under attack. All of this impacts on our safety.” 

Sussex Police says the investigation into Ms Olusegun’s death is still ongoing.  

Detective Inspector Pippa Nicklin said: “We acknowledge there are a lot of people who want answers about what happened to Blessing, and we are working hard to establish the full circumstances of her death so that we can provide those answers to her mother, wider family and friends. 

“We understand this is an incredibly distressing time for Blessing’s mother and we are keen to do everything we can so that hopefully she may gain some closure over the death of her much-loved daughter.

“We remain in regular contact with her, as we have done throughout the investigation, and will ensure to update her promptly of any significant developments in the case. 

“Although there continues to be no evidence of crime, we have been keeping an open mind and are still carefully and fully examining all the circumstances leading up to Blessing’s death, from her arrival in Bexhill, to her leaving the house where she was working and walking to the beach. 

“This remains an open and active investigation – it has never closed. Anyone who saw Blessing that night, or who has any other information that will help, can report online or by calling 101 quoting Operation Vista.”