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Bristol riot: Officers injured as police clash with protesters at ‘Kill the Bill’ rally

Rioters attacked a police station and set fire to marked police cars after violence broke out at a rally against a controversial policing bill in Bristol.

Thousands of people had gathered in the city on Saturday for a demonstration against the legislation which would give officers more powers to crack down on protests.

Police said the “Kill the Bill” march began peacefully but turned violent when a “small minority” attacked the police station in Bridewell Street.

Two police officers were taken to hospital with broken bones and two marked police vans were set on fire.

Other images showed fireworks being thrown and rioters attempting to smash the windows of the police station as mounted officers were deployed to disperse the large crowd.

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Andy Roebuck, chair of Avon and Somerset Police Federation, described the protesters as a “mob of animals”.

He wrote on Twitter: “Disgusting scenes in Bristol by a mob of animals who are injuring police officers, members of the public and damaging property. We have officers with suspected broken arms and ribs. This is so wrong.”

Avon and Somerset Police said two police officers had been taken to hospital with a broken arm and broken ribs.

Chief Superintendent Will White said: “What started out as a peaceful protest has been turned by a small minority into a violent disorder.

“These scenes are absolutely disgraceful and they will be widely condemned by people across the city. There can never be any excuse for wanton disorder.

“At least two police vehicles have been set on fire and damage has been caused to the outside of the station. Protesters are not inside the building. We have requested mutual aid from neighbouring forces to bring this incident to a safe conclusion.

“All those involved in this criminal behaviour will be identified and brought to justice. There will be significant consequences for behaviour such as this.”

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give the police in England and Wales more power 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.

Mass gatherings are currently banned under the coronavirus legislation and anyone breaching the regulations could be fined.

Many protesters on Saturday wore face masks and carried placards, which read: “Say no to UK police state”, “Freedom to protest is fundamental to democracy” and “Kill the Bill”.

Police hold back people outside Bridewell Police Station as they take part in a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest in Bristol

Avon and Somerset Police had urged people not to attend the demonstration, warning that enforcement action could be taken.

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said that he had “major concerns” about the policing bill but condemned the violence at the protest as “unacceptable”.

He added: “Smashing buildings in our city centre, vandalising vehicles, attacking our police will do nothing to lessen the likelihood of the Bill going through. On the contrary, the lawlessness on show will be used as evidence and promote the need for the Bill.

“What they have done has more to do with self-gratification than it has to do with the protection and advancement of those of us from communities most likely to be marginalised and mistreated by our political and legal systems.”

Additional reporting by PA