‘Kill the Bill’ protesters gather for third demo in Bristol

Claire Hayhurst and Rod Minchin, PA
·3-min read

Protesters have gathered for the third time in less than a week in Bristol for a ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration.

Hundreds of people gathered on College Green to rally against the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Police said around 300 people joined a march through the city centre and the crowd headed towards Bridewell Street, the scene of Sunday’s violence.

A large police presence was on duty, including horses and dogs, and was preventing the protesters reaching Bridewell police station.

The first demonstration held last Sunday started off peacefully with around 3,000 attending but descended into a riot when around 500 people marched on a city centre police station.

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Avon and Somerset Police is investigating assaults on 40 officers and one member of the media.

Nine people have been arrested in connection with the disorder, which saw officers attacked, police vehicles set on fire and the windows of a police station smashed.

A second protest took place on College Green on Tuesday night and resulted in 15 arrests.

Police urged people not to attend any protests because public gatherings are not currently permitted under coronavirus legislation.

Chief Superintendent Claire Armes said: “Once again, we remind everyone that we’re still in a pandemic which has cost many lives and remains a significant challenge for our colleagues in the NHS.

“We have all sacrificed so much to stop the spread of this terrible disease and we’re so close to a relaxation of the restrictions, when protest will again be possible.

“In Avon and Somerset we remain committed to facilitating peaceful protest when it’s safe and lawful to do so, however gatherings remain a breach of Covid-19 restrictions and risk increasing the spread of coronavirus.

A man holds a bunch of daffodils in front of a police line near to Bridewell police station
A man holds a bunch of daffodils in front of a police line near to Bridewell police station (Ben Birchall/PA)

“We urge you not to come.

“We do understand the strength of opposition to the new legislation being debated in Parliament.

“Protest is a right which we’re asking people to be responsible about exercising right now.

“This is about public health and public safety at a time of pandemic.

“Please consider making your voice heard in different ways, such as contacting your MP or signing one of the petitions available online.

“I want to make it clear.

“Peaceful protesters will be given the opportunity to disperse, but Bristol will not tolerate violent behaviour and we’re here to prevent it.”

Police during the latest ‘Kill The Bill’ protest in Bristol
Police during the latest ‘Kill The Bill’ protest in Bristol (Ben Birchall/PA)

Police have released images of 18 people they want to identify following the trouble on Sunday.

The force later said those arrested after Tuesday’s protest had all been released from custody and face being fined or reported for summons for Covid breaches, while several were on conditional bail for obstructing the highway, pending further inquiries or charging decisions.

A 22-year-old man from Bristol was released on conditional bail for the theft of a police baton, which was recovered, and two women from Bristol, aged 19 and 24, accepted a caution for obstructing the highway.

Two of those arrested on Tuesday were in connection with the violent disorder on Sunday, and they have been released under investigation.

Meanwhile, the force has retracted claims two officers suffered fractures in Sunday night’s riot.

“We believed the information had been verified but it had not, and while we apologise for that there was no intention to mislead,” a force spokesman said.

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.