As the UK prepares to celebrate Easter after a subdued Christmas, it seems yet more trouble may be brewing on the horizon linked to further "Kill The Bill" protests scheduled in Bristol.
A "National Weekend of Action" is being touted online as an opportunity for demonstrators to gather on 3 April across several cities to oppose controversial anti-protest legislation.
Several #KillTheBill protests are scheduled to take part in a 'National Weekend of Action' over what could be a chaotic #Easter, following more violent clashes in #Bristol. #UK— 🌎 Sarwar 🌐 (@ferozwala) March 28, 2021
▪️Calls for protesters in all cities to gather to to oppose controversial anti-protest legislation pic.twitter.com/HD17kLeRh1
Amid a much-welcomed relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, with outdoor gatherings allowed from 29 March followed by more easing on 12 April, protests are expected to take place in London, Plymouth, and Bournemouth.
‘Unacceptable Violent Conduct'
Meanwhile, ten arrests were made after what police slammed as unacceptable "violent conduct" during the third Kill the Bill demonstration on Friday.
It’s going wild again in Bristol! Expect a night of violence! 😡😡 pic.twitter.com/rn1mC8pSAL— Craig bf (@bf_craig) March 27, 2021
Around a thousand people marched in the city centre near Bristol's Bridewell Police Station against the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill according to the Avon and Somerset Police.
In footage shared online, more than a hundred police officers wearing helmets and holding riot shields can be seen urging protestors to disperse at 10 pm.
However, rioters hurled bricks and bottles at the officers, while flares and fireworks were aimed at police on horses – a horse was even sprayed with paint. Several scuffles also broke out between protestors and police.
Videos on social media show a reported journalist being shoved by officers – one protestor can be seen being beaten across the thighs by police after resisting arrest.
Firework explodes as horses charge at protesters in Bristol pic.twitter.com/Za5N4qHjqC— Conor Gogarty (@ConorGogarty) March 26, 2021
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to Twitter to criticise the mayhem.
The PM slammed the "disgraceful" demonstration and those "intent on violence and causing damage to property."
Last night saw disgraceful attacks against police officers in Bristol.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) March 27, 2021
Our officers should not have to face having bricks, bottles and fireworks being thrown at them by a mob intent on violence and causing damage to property.
The police and the city have my full support.
Similar sentiments were voiced by Home Secretary Priti Patel who blasted the "thugs" who were "only intent on causing trouble," as the protesters ignored officers' pleas to stay at home.
I am disgusted by the disorder in Bristol and the violence being directed towards the police.— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) March 27, 2021
I’m in no doubt the silent, law-abiding majority will be appalled by the actions of this criminal minority.
Friday’s protest was the third demonstration held in the southwest of England against the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill.
The new legislation, which passed its second reading in Parliament last week, seeks to expand the police’s powers to combat non-violent protests, including those deemed “a nuisance,” as well as enforcing time limits on demonstrations.
Those convicted under the proposed bill could face fines or even jail terms.
On 21 March around 3,000 people gathered on Bristol's College Green in what was an initially peaceful protest under the motto "Kill the Bill."
However, the rally spiralled out of control as people set police vans alight, smashed windows, and attacked officers.
Two days later on 23 March around 100 demonstrators gathered on College Green again, with officers making 15 arrests.
Marvin Rees, mayor of Bristol, said in a statement on Saturday:
“The violence on our streets is unwelcome. Of particular concern are the number of people travelling into our city to protest or to cause conflict. You can protest in your own town or village, without travelling to ours.”
“If the protests are meant to reduce the likelihood of the Bill, then the actions of some of these protestors are politically illiterate and strategically inept. The actions make the Bill more likely and protesting in Labour-led Bristol does not put any pressure on the Conservative MPs who will be required for the Bill to pass.”