Covid: Bristol Kill the Bill protest attended by thousands

Image credit Amelia Davidson

A Reuters photographer at the scene saw some demonstrators launch fireworks towards police officers, try to knock over a police van, scale the outside wall of a police station and spray graffiti on it.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "Horrendous scenes in Bristol".

Gloucestershire Police Federation tweeted the officer had been stamped on in the fracas.

Thousands of protesters converged on the city centre, defying COVID-19 restrictions banning such gatherings and ignoring an appeal from the local police force to express their views by joining virtual protests.

Hundreds of people gathered in St.Peter's Square on Saturday afternoon to protest the bill.

"I have major concerns about the Bill myself, which is poorly thought-out and could impose disproportionate controls on free expression and the right to peaceful protest".

Chief Superintendent Will White, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "These scenes are absolutely disgraceful and they will be widely condemned by people across the city".

We're asking people not to attend an advertised protest in #Bristol later today.

"The people involved in assaulting the officers, burning out vehicles, damaging vehicles, smashing windows, hurling projectiles from the multi-storey auto park, throwing things at our horses and dogs - they were people who came for a fight with the police".

Image credit Amelia Davidson
Image credit Amelia Davidson

This was in response to the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill proposed by Priti Patel and Cressida Dick.

Mass gatherings are now banned under the coronavirus legislation and anyone breaching the regulations could be fined.

Human rights groups, the United Kingdom arm of Amnesty International, and the Rights of Women campaign group have slammed the proposed legislation.

Many were wearing face masks and carried placards, saying: "Say no to United Kingdom police state" and "Freedom to protest is fundamental to democracy" and "Kill the Bill".

"All those involved in this criminal behaviour will be identified and brought to justice".

Avon and Somerset Police had urged people not to attend the demonstration, warning that enforcement action could be taken.

"I believe the events of yesterday were hijacked by extremists, people who were determined to commit criminal damage, to generate very negative sentiment about policing and to assault our courageous officers", he added.

"Officers are continuing to engage with those attending".

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