Shameful scenes clouded a “Kill the Bill” protest in Bristol, which saw a police station attacked, officers injured and a van set on fire by violent thugs.
Police threw fireworks at them and protesters smashed a police station window with a skateboard as protests against the controversial law on police and government crimes turned violent. You can follow the live updates on our sister site Bristol Live here.
Chief Superintendent Will White said one officer suffered a broken arm and another suffered a broken rib. Both had been taken to the hospital. He said two police vehicles were set on fire.
“These scenes are utterly shameful and widely condemned by people across the city,” he said.
Details of the event were shared throughout the week by many of Bristol’s leading campaign groups, including Extinction Rebellion and the city’s Black Lives Matter movement. Ahead of the event, Avon and Somerset police warned anyone thinking of attending they risked breaching coronavirus lockdown laws still in place and could face a £ 200 fine.
But that didn’t stop thousands gathering at 2 p.m. before the march began.
There were ugly scenes outside the town’s Bridewell Police Station when the mood became confrontational, with small groups pushing and throwing missiles. Fireworks were also thrown and police dogs were used.
Avon and Somerset Police tweeted: “Officers continue to deal with fewer protesters on Bridewell Street. They have been shot at with projectiles, including fireworks, and verbally abused. This is unacceptable behavior and those who are responsible for Criminal offenses are responsible. ” will be identified and brought to justice. “
The Bristol event followed a series of Kill The Bill protests in Wales that weekend that took place without incident in Cardiff, Bangor and Wrexham. You can read about these protests here.
The protests have been dubbed “Kill The Bill” in reference to attempts to halt the government’s proposed law that would give the police and the Home Secretary more powers to end protests.
The bill also includes a special new law to protect monuments and statues after the fall of the statue of Edward Colston, with the crime of damaging it punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
Uniformed officers with protective shields started a small fire with a fire extinguisher that was started under a vehicle.
A short time later, rioters destroyed a mobile police station van parked on a nearby side street by setting it on fire.
Protesters later tried to break the glass-fronted windows of the police station.
They also tried to set fire to one of the tagged police cars parked outside the train station, but the small flames were quickly put out by the riot officers.
Other protesters set fire to a police car parked on Bridewell Street near the police station.
Avon and Somerset police said rockets were thrown at them, including fireworks, and they were also verbally abused.
Pictures showed mounted officers intervening to disperse the large crowd that had gathered outside the police station.
The senseless violence was condemned by representatives of the police association and a local MP.
Andy Roebuck, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Police Federation, said: “Disgusting scenes in Bristol with a lot of animals hurting police officers, members of the public and damaging property.
“Avon and Somerset Police Federation are visiting stations to assist officers. We have officers with suspected broken arms and ribs. This is so wrong.”
John Apter, National Chairman of the Federation of Police of England and Wales, said: “Terrible scenes in Bristol.
“Number of officers seriously injured, damaged police vehicles and attacked police station. This is not a protest, it is just senseless violence. The thoughts are with my colleagues.”
Darren Jones, Labor MP for Bristol North West, said: “The scenes in Bristol tonight are totally unacceptable.
“You are not advocating the right to peaceful protest by setting fire to police cars or graffiti on buildings.
“The Avon and Somerset Police were on duty today to facilitate peaceful protest against criminal behavior.”
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police Department said: “Officers continue to deal with fewer protesters on Bridewell Street.
“They were pelted with projectiles, including fireworks, and verbally abused.”
The Police, Crime, Conviction and Courts Act would give the police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including those deemed too loud or disruptive.
Those convicted under the proposed law could face a fine or prison.
Mass gatherings are currently banned under coronavirus law, and anyone who breaks the rules can be fined.
Many who took part in the protests on College Green wore face masks and placards saying, “Say no to the UK Police State” and “Freedom to protest is fundamental to democracy” and “Kill the Bill”.
Avon and Somerset police had urged people not to participate in the demonstration and warned that enforcement action could be taken.