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Bristol: Arrests made as thousands attend third ‘Kill the Bill’ protest

Arrests have been made at the third protest in Bristol in a week after more than a thousand people descended on a city police station.

Hundreds of people gathered on College Green on Friday to rally against the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, with the direct action growing in size before the crowd began standing or sitting in the street near Bridewell police station.

The station had been the scene of Sunday’s violent protest, which saw officers attacked, police vehicles set on fire and the windows of a police station smashed. So far nine people have been arrested, with officers pledging that more will follow.

Protesters on Friday night had initially sat down in the street at 10pm once officers had called for them to disperse, with the police then moving in on the crowd.

Footage from the scene showed protesters, some sitting, others with their arms in the air, chanting “we are peaceful what are you” as officers used riot shields to push them back – in one instance using the edge of the defensive item to hit one person who was on the ground.

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Witnesses described some instances of small items, including eggs, being thrown at officers dressed in full riot gear, while the police force said glass bottles were also among the projectiles.

In a tweet Avon and Somerset Police said: “Protesters are also pulling at officers’ shields while lasers are being shone in their faces.

“We will not tolerate violent disorder. Arrests have been made.”

Mounted officer were also deployed as well as police dogs, which barked and pulled at their leads as they were walked by officers towards the crowds, pushing them back in the process.

In one later instance as the crowd began to dwindle, what appeared to be a small firework could be seen being let off near the feet of charging police horses, while officers were also the target of flares and hurled items on the street including traffic cones.

The force had previously urged people not to attend, citing the risk of spreading Covid-19.

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Sunday’s initial protest had begun peacefully, with more than 3,000 people in attendance before a residual group of 500 were caught in violent altercations with officers near the station. Avon and Somerset police had claimed at the time that two officers had been left with broken bones over the course of the protest, however later rescinded the allegation.

A further 15 people were then arrested on College Green following a second night of protest on Tuesday evening. Police later said those arrested after Tuesday’s protest had all been released from custody and face being fined or reported for summons for Covid breaches, while several were on conditional bail for obstructing the highway, pending further inquiries or charging decisions.

Friday’s protest marks the third demonstration held in Bristol against the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The legislation 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, with those convicted under the proposed legislation able to face a fine or jail.

However the protests have also integrated those seeking to memorialise Sarah Everard following the heavy handed policing of a vigil to mark her death in Clapham on 13 March.

Ms Everard went missing as she walked home from a friend’s flat on the evening of 3 March. Wayne Couzens, 48, a serving Metropolitan Police officer, has been charged with her kidnap and murder.