Riot officers clubbed protesters with batons and officers were pelted with missiles as a protest against a new police bill, which would give forces more powers, turned violent in Bristol
Protesters attacked police with missiles, laid “siege” to a police station, and set a van on fire as anarchy erupted during a violent ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration.
Thousands were rallying against a new police bill that would give officers more powers to deal with non-violent protests.
Demonstrators climbed on top of a roof at Bridewell Police Station in Bristol and tossed objects at officers down below during running clashes in the street.
A police van was set on fire shortly after the station came “under siege” and had its windows smashed while officers defended the entrance.
Trouble began to flare at about 6 pm as baton-wielding officers, wearing helmets and carrying shields, and a crowd faced off outside where some protesters were staging a sit-in following a march.
Following scuffles in the street, a BristolLive journalist at the scene said the police station was “under siege” with missiles raining down.
Fireworks were shot at officers and missiles were thrown at them, said a spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police.
Police dogs were on scene and officers on horseback were among those trying to restore order.
A Facebook Live stream showed people hurling objects and letting the air out of tyres on a police van.
Footage also showed windows being smashed at the police station.
Police said there were a small number of incidences of criminal damage, including graffiti, earlier in the afternoon.
A group of people were seen trying to overturn a police van that was covered in graffiti.
Thousands of people attended demonstrations in Bristol and Newcastle against controversial plans to give the police more powers to crack down on non-violent protests.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give the police in England and Wales the ability 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.
In Bristol city center, about 3,000 people defied a police warning and coronavirus legislation which bans mass gatherings and carries fines for anyone breaching the regulations.
At least one person was arrested in Newcastle, where about 600 people protested the bill and in support of the Reclaim These Streets movement.
Hundreds of people gathered at College Green in Bristol before marching to a police station on nearby Bridewell Street.
Many 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.
The protest turned violent at about 6pm and running clashes continued after nightfall.
Avon and Somerset Police had urged people not to attend the demonstration – warning that enforcement action could be taken.
Chief Inspector Julie French said before the event: “We’re strongly advising people not to attend a protest on College Gree, Bristol, planned for later today.
Our officers don’t want to have to issue fixed penalty notices, but we will take enforcement action if it’s proportionate and necessary to protect public health.
During the event, a spokesman for the force said: Officers are engaging with a number of people who’ve turned up at the protest.
“We’d like to thank those who’ve agreed to leave for their understanding of why it’s still important to follow Covid-19 restrictions and protect all our communities from this virus.
The protest has moved into Park Street and the fountains so we’re asking people to avoid this area due to the potential disruption to traffic.
Officers are continuing to engage with those attending. Enforcement action will be taken retrospectively when necessary and proportionate.
As trouble flared, the force tweeted: Officers are continuing to deal with a smaller number of protestors in Bridewell St. They’ve had projectiles thrown at them, including a firework, and have been verbally abused.
This is unacceptable behavior and those responsible for offences will be identified & brought to justice.
In Newcastle, hundreds of people gathered in Exhibition Park to protest the bill and in support of the Reclaim These Streets movement, as police and riot gear congregated nearby.
There was a large police presence, including officers on horseback.
Demonstrator Sam McGill told ChronicleLive: It’s great to see so many people coming out to protest.
The police response has been totally disproportionate today, as it has throughout the country, to try and stifle us.
Some of those in the crowd held signs reading “Reclaim These Streets” or placards calling for an end to violence against women and more action to protect women.
Northumbria Police said a woman was arrested at Grey’s Monument on suspicion of a breach of Covid-19 rules.
On Saturday, the force had warned people that protests (Kill the Bill) are not exempt from the current Covid legislation while urging them not to gather.