Nine arrests after angry protesters gather in central London

·4-min read
<p>A demonstrator releases coloured smoke during a

A demonstrator releases coloured smoke during a

(REUTERS)" />

Nine people were arrested on Saturday during a number protests that took place across the capital.

Thousands of “Kill the Bill” protesters descended on central London and gathered around Trafalgar Square and The Mall.

It was the latest in a series of protests against the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill which proposes to give police greater powers to shut down overly noisy or disruptive protests.

Later in the afternoon, the demonstrators headed towards the Home Office.

Protesters let off flares and wore placards reading “destroy power not people” and “no more police powers”.

The protest, which was spearheaded by anti-domestic violence charity Sisters Uncut, also featured many placards supporting environmental activists Extinction Rebellion (XR) and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Bill was drafted partly in response to previous disruptive action by both groups.

Police officers move a protester from the road in Trafalgar Square during protests on SaturdayREUTERS
Police officers move a protester from the road in Trafalgar Square during protests on SaturdayREUTERS

It came as Extinction Rebellion activists staged a number of “protest of one” road blocks to demonstrate against the Government’s lack of action on climate change.

Five men and four women were arrested for obstructing various roads across London including Westminster Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Tower Bridge and Clapham Common West Side.

Morgan Trowland, 38, glued himself to London’s Tower Bridge, prompting City of London Police to close it to southbound traffic.

Mr Trowland, a civil engineer from Hackney, east London, said: “I’m terrified that billions will die because of the climate crisis, humans and non-humans.

“I’m freaking out that many people are accepting this, or feel powerless to change the course. I want to show onlookers that we each have phenomenal power.”

Mr Trowland was later arrested and charged with obstruction of a highway.

PA
PA

Another man blocked Blackfriars Bridge holding a placard reading: “I’m terrified billions will starve while our Government refuses to act on the climate crisis.”

Commander Simon Dobinson, of the Metropolitan Police said ahead of the protests: “We have attempted to make contact with the organisers of Saturday’s demonstrations.

“It is their responsibility to comply with the regulations and ensure their gathering is safe.

“Officers will be present to try to engage with protestors, to explain the restrictions, encourage compliance and take steps to enforce the restrictions if it is necessary to do so.

“Anyone intending to engage in violence or disorder needs to understand that police we will take steps to prevent that behaviour. We will not tolerate attacks on our officers and staff.”

Similar protests were staged in Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle.

In Newcastle, demonstrators faced off against officers who blocked them from accessing a police station.

One witness told the PA news agency: “Police closed the road and stopped access, there were a couple of scuffles and a few protestors were detained.

“After 30 minutes or so the protestors seemed to realise they wouldn’t get through so moved on.”

In Sheffield, demonstrators took the knee and gave the black power salute in a park close to the city centre, before marching towards City Hall.

Protesters in Manchester occupied Portland Street in the city centre.

Some of the most violent protests have been seen in Bristol – where the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was ripped down last summer – with 42 people arrested following a demonstration in March.

The city’s 11th protest was scheduled to commence at 5pm this May Day, beginning at College Green.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but over recent years we have seen an increase in the use of disruptive and dangerous tactics.

“It is totally unacceptable to smash up private property, block emergency vehicles and prevent the printing press from distributing newspapers.

“The Government will not stand by as the rights and freedoms of individuals, businesses and communities are trampled upon by a minority.

“These new measures will not stop people from carrying out their civic right to protest and be heard, but will prevent large scale disruption – enabling the silent majority to get on with their lives.”

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