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Bristol ‘Kill The Bill’ protest: 20 officers injured – two seriously

Written by on 22 March 2021

Violence that broke out during a “Kill The Bill” protest was caused by people who “came for a fight with police”, Bristol’s chief constable has said.

The event was organised to protest against the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would increase police powers to deal with non-violent demonstrations.

However, what started out peacefully on Sunday afternoon turned ugly after hundreds of protesters marched from College Green to the New Bridewell police station.

A demonstrator graffitis a police vehicle Image: A demonstrator graffitis a police vehicle

Twenty police officers were injured, two seriously, with one suffering broken bones and another with a suspected punctured lung, during violent skirmishes with masked thugs.

Andy Marsh, of Avon and Somerset Police, told Sky News a number of those protesting “came for a fight with the police”.

“It was a terrifying scene. Neighbourhood officers were effectively trapped inside the building with people on the roofs throwing fireworks at them, hurling projectiles.

“And the other officers outside doing their very best to protect everyone present.

Demonstrators stand near a burning police vehicle Image: Demonstrators stand near a burning police vehicle

“It really was a disgraceful scene committed by criminals. I don’t believe this was a protest.

“It wasn’t people frustrated with the lack of ability to protest – this was people intent on causing serious disorder, violence and damage, people with a grudge against policing.

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

“We did everything that we could to try to calm the situation… to disperse that crowd to encourage them to leave but ultimately it unfortunately turned to violence.”

Rioters smashed the windows of the police station and also destroyed police vehicles parked nearby, setting fire to a car and a van.

Cars parked in a multi-storey car park next to the police station were also damaged by protesters.

Things turned violent Image: Fireworks were thrown at officers

Bristol’s mayor Marvin Rees said he had “major concerns” about the bill, but condemned the violence.

He told Sky News: “I’m furious. It’s the level of political illiteracy of these thugs which is really a problem here.

“How will what they did yesterday lessen the likelihood of this bill going through?

“What they have done will just be put in the evidence bag of those who want the bill to go through.

Workers begin the clean up after Sunday's violence Image: Workers begin the clean up after Sunday’s violence

“They will also increase the likelihood of people in communities that have been on the rough end of the criminal justice system, remaining on the rough end of the criminal justice system.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted about the “unacceptable scenes”.

“Thuggery and disorder by a minority will never be tolerated,” she wrote.

“Our police officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect us all.

“My thoughts this evening are with those police officers injured.”

A placard left on a city street following the protests Image: A placard left on a city street following the protests

Sue Mountstevens, police and crime commissioner for Avon and Somerset, said seven people had been arrested so far and there would be “many more” detained.

“It’s disgraceful and outrageous.

“There will be warrants, there will be arrests and police will be checking on the CCTV. There will be further arrests in the next few hours and days.”

One protester told Sky News: “I think it was important to be down here when things are peaceful because the right to protest is crucial to any democracy obviously.

“This however, is a little bit embarrassing for the city of Bristol.

“This is not a peaceful protest. It’s just going to be used against us as evidence to keep our right to protest away from us.”

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give officers in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including those deemed to be too noisy or a nuisance.

Those convicted under the proposed legislation could face a fine or jail.

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