"Kill the Bill" protesters have again clashed with riot police in Bristol as demonstrators refused to leave the city's streets two days after violent riots broke out in the area.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill passed its second reading in the British parliament last week and if adopted, it would increase police powers, including putting time limits on protests. The bill was slammed by human rights groups, the UK arm of Amnesty International, and the campaign group Rights of Women.
amazing to see people camping out in bristol tonight to protest anti-trespassing legislation, a great display of how people are not going to give up their right to peacefully protest. solidarity with the GRT community always ❤️✊🏽 pic.twitter.com/xrFKDKgLw7— saranya (@sxranya) March 23, 2021
Tuesday saw riot police officers, some of them on horseback and with dogs, trying to disperse 150 demonstrators who erected tents in the centre of Bristol in a show of protest against the bill.
The Daily Mail cited an unnamed police source at the scene as saying that "there was a gathering on the [College] Green that was in contravention of COVID laws so it was the police's intention to clear the area as quickly and as safely as possible".
The source added that "due to the ferocity of the violence on Sunday, officers needed to be in riot gear and needed to take robust action".
Two female protesters were quoted by the Daily Mail as claiming that police used force in order to disperse the crowd.
"They just came at us and gave us no warning whatsoever. I shouted to one 'what are you doing' and he hit me in the face. He hit my friend too and made her nose bleed. Nasty, nasty people", one of the protesters asserted.
Bristol Protests 'Hijacked by Individuals' Keen to 'Cause Problems', Ex-UK Security Officer Says
“The continued [COVID-19] lockdown is causing a number of people across the UK to get effectively fed up with it, and that's leading to anti-lockdown protests”, says Philip Ingram, a former senior British intelligence and security officer.
He added that the riots that had broken out in Bristol for the last couple of nights were “ones that have been hijacked by individuals that have had one aim and that aim is to go out and cause problems”.
“Bristol has traditionally been a city where it can flash into a riot situation relatively quickly in some areas, and that is what has happened”, Ingram pointed out, adding that the latest protests in the city have been “hijacked by a relatively small number of people whose sole aim is going out and causing criminal damage and attacking the police to stimulate the sorts of pictures that we've seen on our television programmes”.
He also said that all those individuals should bear in mind that the protests’ “ringleaders will be arrested and arrested very quickly indeed”.
He argued the "disorder" came after protests by about 3,000 people kicked off in central Bristol.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the Sunday riots as unacceptable, while Home Secretary Priti Patel called the scenes in Bristol "thuggery", extending her sympathies to the injured police officers.