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In pictures: ‘Shameful’ scenes in Bristol after ‘Kill The Bill’ protest descends into anarchy

Written by on 22 March 2021

Violence at a Bristol “Kill the Bill” protest, which saw police officers injured, vehicles set alight and a police station attacked, has been widely condemned.

Many who attended the protest against the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on College Green were wearing face masks and carried placards, saying: “Say no to UK police state”, “Freedom to protest is fundamental to democracy” and “Kill the Bill”.

But what started as a non-violent demonstration on Sunday afternoon, quickly turned violent after hundreds of protesters, some wearing masks, descended on New Bridewell police station, and began destroying police property.

Protests started off peacefully Image: Protests started off peacefully near College Green A demonstrator gestures during a protest against a new proposed policing bill Image: A demonstrator comes face-to-face with an officer in riot gear Protest against new proposed policing bill, in Bristol  Image: Officers worked to disperse the crowd

Two police officers were injured, suffering broken ribs and an arm, and taken to hospital.

The violence unfolded as rioters attempted to smash the windows of New Bridewell police station.

A group also destroyed Avon and Somerset Police vehicles parked nearby, setting fire to a car and a van – two of multiple vehicles targeted on Sunday evening.

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

Avon and Somerset Police said its officers had missiles and fireworks thrown at them and used mounted officers and dogs to disperse the mob.

Protester kicks a smashed Bridewell Police Station window, as they take part in a 'Kill the Bill' protest in Bristol, demonstrating against the Government's controversial Police and Crime Bill. Picture date: Sunday March 21, 2021. Image: A protester kicks a smashed Bridewell Police Station window Protester breaks smashes a window with a stick outside Bridewell Police Station Image: Another smashes a window with a stick Police hold back people outside Bridewell Police Station Image: Police hold back a crowd outside the station

Home Secretary Priti Patel branded the scenes “unacceptable” and said “thuggery and disorder” would never be tolerated.

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said he had “major concerns” about the bill but condemned the violence, calling it a “shameful day in an incredible year for Bristol”.

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Officers injured during violent clashes in Bristol A police van burns in Bristol after the Kill The Bill protest descended into violence. Pic: Martin Booth Image: A police van burns in Bristol after the Kill The Bill protest descended into violence. Pic: Martin Booth

He added: “Smashing buildings in our city centre, vandalising vehicles, attacking our police will do nothing to lessen the likelihood of the Bill going through.

“On the contrary, the lawlessness on show will be used as evidence and promote the need for the Bill.”

Groups in Bristol Image: Cars parked in a multi-storey car park were damaged by protesters A police officer with a police dog faces protesters outside Bridewell Police Station Image: A police officer with a police dog faces angry protesters A police van was set on fire after it was graffitied and had its windows smashed in Image: A police van was set on fire after it was graffitied and had its windows smashed in

Andy Roebuck, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Police Federation, said the “disgusting scenes” were enacted by a “mob of animals”.

He said: “Disgusting scenes in Bristol by a mob of animals who are injuring police officers, members of the public and damaging property.

“We have officers with suspected broken arms and ribs.

“This is so wrong.”

A demonstrator graffitis a police vehicle Image: A demonstrator defaces a police vehicle Police hold back people outside Bridewell Police Station as they take part in a 'Kill the Bill' protest in Bristol, demonstrating against the Government's controversial Police and Crime Bill. Picture date: Sunday March 21, 2021. Image: Home Secretary Priti Patel described the scenes as ‘thuggery and disorder’ Kill the Bill' rally in Bristol saw a police station attacked, officers suffer broken bones and a number of police vehicles set alight by violent thugs. Pic: Dan Whitehead Image: Officers were attacked with some suffering broken bones. Pic: Dan Whitehead

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

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

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