Kill the Bill demonstrators take to city streets across Britain


Kill the Bill demonstrators today ignored officers’ pleas to stay at home as they marched in rallies across Britain to oppose controversial anti-protest legislation – amid fears of another night of violence in Bristol.   

Scenes of violence have erupted in Bristol over the past week, with demonstrators seen hurling fireworks and eggs at riot officers while protesting the government’s upcoming Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.  

The legislation would give 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 bill liable to fines or jail terms. 

But demonstrations appeared peaceful today as hundreds of Britons gathered in Bath, Nottingham, London, Falmouth and Manchester to protest the proposed laws. 

Dozens of demonstrators held placards reading ‘Defend the right to protest’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ in St Peter’s Square, Manchester, while others in Bath held signs declaring ‘Those who make peaceful protest impossible will make violent protest inevitable’.

Riot police were already roaming the streets in Somerset in anticipation of unrest, as young protesters addressed crowds who had gathered to oppose the proposed laws with megaphones. 

In Falmouth, hundreds of people gathered at a peaceful rally, while others in Kingston upon Thames marched through the high street with signs reading ‘Kill the Bill’ and ‘We will not be silent.’ 

FALMOUTH: A protester shouts as she marches through the streets today in opposition to the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill

FALMOUTH: A protester shouts as she marches through the streets today in opposition to the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill

BATH: Riot police were already roaming the streets in Somerset in anticipation of unrest today

BATH: Riot police were already roaming the streets in Somerset in anticipation of unrest today

LONDON: Demonstrations appeared peaceful today as hundreds of Britons gathered in Bath, Nottingham, London, Falmouth and Manchester to protest the proposed laws

LONDON: Demonstrations appeared peaceful today as hundreds of Britons gathered in Bath, Nottingham, London, Falmouth and Manchester to protest the proposed laws

Pictured: Bath today

Pictured: Manchester today

BATH AND MANCHESTER: Young protesters address crowds who gathered in Somerset to protest the  Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

MANCHESTER: Protestors carry placards during a Kill The Bill protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

MANCHESTER: Protestors carry placards during a Kill The Bill protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

NOTTINGHAM: Dozens of demonstrators gather on a hill in Nottingham to protest the proposed policing bill

NOTTINGHAM: Dozens of demonstrators gather on a hill in Nottingham to protest the proposed policing bill 

The busy gatherings came despite police urging protestors to consider their actions after Boris Johnson condemned a ‘mob intent on violent’ following a third night of violence in Bristol on Friday.

Priti Patel also spoke out against the actions of demonstrators she dubbed ‘thugs’ who were ‘only intent on causing trouble’ at the marches.    

The Home Secretary said she was ‘disgusted’ by the attacks on police, which saw protesters launch fireworks at officers on horseback outside Bridewell Police Station.

She said the force ‘have my full support’ and added she believed the ‘silent, law-abiding majority will be appalled by the actions of this criminal minority’.

MANCHESTER: Demonstrators during the 'Kill The Bill' protest against the proposed law in St Peter's Square today

MANCHESTER: Demonstrators during the ‘Kill The Bill’ protest against the proposed law in St Peter’s Square today

BATH: A demonstrator holding a 'protect protest' sign speaks to a police officer amid another demonstration today

BATH: A demonstrator holding a ‘protect protest’ sign speaks to a police officer amid another demonstration today

Pictured: Bath today

Pictured: Manchester today

BATH AND MANCHESTER: People hold signs reading ‘The future ain’t Priti’ and ‘Kill the Bill’ at protests today

MANCHESTER: Hundreds of protesters sit on the street as they hold placards reading 'Kill the Bill' during a rally today

MANCHESTER: Hundreds of protesters sit on the street as they hold placards reading ‘Kill the Bill’ during a rally today

BATH: A man shouts through a traffic cone as demonstrators walk down a High Street during a protest today

BATH: A man shouts through a traffic cone as demonstrators walk down a High Street during a protest today

NOTTINGHAM: People held signs reading 'Ban the Bill' and 'Reclaim our Streets' as they demonstrated today

NOTTINGHAM: People held signs reading ‘Ban the Bill’ and ‘Reclaim our Streets’ as they demonstrated today

Ahead of the gatherings today, Claire Armes, Chief Superintendent for Avon and Somerset Police, said: ‘We’re aware some people may still be intending to take part in further protests in Bristol and Bath this weekend.

‘Once again, I’m urging them to reconsider for the sake of public health. While Covid restrictions are in place, gatherings of any kind will only put our communities at risk.

Timeline of the Bristol protests:

Sunday, March 21: 

Around 3,000 were protesting the new policing bill peacefully on College Green before a hardcore of 500 activists arrived outside Bridewell Police Station in Bristol city centre.

They torched police vans, smashed windows of buildings and attacked officers.

Avon and Somerset Police is investigating assaults on 40 officers and one member of the media.

Tuesday, March 23:

Two days after the riot around 100 demonstrators gathered on College Green in the heart of the city’s student area.

On this occasion there was no rioting, but one witness described officers’ dispersal of the protesters as ‘quite heavy-handed’, which was ‘shocking to see.’

Officers made 15 arrests.

Friday, March 26:

Ten arrests were made after what police called unacceptable ‘violent conduct’ at the third Kill the Bill demonstration in Bristol.

Some 300 people initially joined a protest march through the city centre against the Government’s new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on Friday night, before the crowd swelled to more than 1,000 as tempers flared.

‘This pandemic has cost many lives and is still a significant challenge for our colleagues in the NHS. Anyone who chooses to flout the restrictions is playing a part in prolonging this difficult situation.

‘We fully understand the strength of feeling around the right to protest, but now is not the time. We’re again asking people to please do the responsible thing and stay at home this weekend.

‘Policing resources are in place to ensure we’re able to keep our communities safe and maintain order.’ 

Officers said they ‘have a plan’ in place to tackle further protests should demonstrators decide to take to the streets of Bristol again tonight.

Commander for Avon and Somerset Police Mark Runacres said police ‘would not tolerate violent protests’, and while they did not want to have to act, ‘if we need to maintain law and order in the city then we will.’

He added: ‘We do have a plan. We have additional resources available to us throughout this weekend but we don’t want to have to be using them at all and certainly not to use force and dispersing people.

‘But if we need to to maintain law and order in the city then we will – that’s our core responsibility. The majority of the wider public in the city and beyond will expect and want us to do that, particularly in light of what occurred last Sunday.

‘What happened on Sunday was completely shocking and unacceptable, to me as an individual and a police officer, to us as an organisation and to us as a city.

‘There was a letter that was circulated by city leaders on Thursday from people in leadership positions in a variety of organisations across the city, all signing up to support the police response and discourage people from gathering for further protests.’

He added: ‘People are showing their appreciation for what we do and their gratitude for the role that we play in the city. I’ve had conversations with senior people in the council throughout the week including the Mayor about how we stop this developing further.

‘A frustration that we have is over why and how this is playing out in Bristol, and why this legislation that is government-led is causing people to take to the streets in this way.

‘That’s harming Bristol and that’s not what we want. We don’t want that to represent us as a city because that’s not what we’re about and it’s not what we pride ourselves on.’

Demonstrations kicked off in the city last Sunday, when 3,000 people protesting peacefully on College Green evolved into chaos after 500-strong group of hardcore activists arrived outside Bridewell Police Station.  

They torched police vans, smashed windows of buildings and attacked officers.

BATH: A woman holds a sign reading 'Hello fascism' as several demonstrations continue across Britain today

BATH: A woman holds a sign reading ‘Hello fascism’ as several demonstrations continue across Britain today

BATH: Hundreds marched through the streets in Somerset during the busy demonstrations today

BATH: Hundreds marched through the streets in Somerset during the busy demonstrations today

BATH: People held signs reading 'If I can't say no, I can't say yes' and 'I want to be safe not brave' today

BATH: People held signs reading ‘If I can’t say no, I can’t say yes’ and ‘I want to be safe not brave’ today

FALMOUTH: Other demonstrators danced in the middle of a crowd during a protest in Falmouth today

FALMOUTH: Other demonstrators danced in the middle of a crowd during a protest in Falmouth today

FALMOUTH: Three demonstrators hold a banner reading 'Kill the policing bill, it's out right to protest' as they march today

FALMOUTH: Three demonstrators hold a banner reading ‘Kill the policing bill, it’s out right to protest’ as they march today

LONDON: Demonstrators hold placards during a "Kill the Bill" protest in Kingston upon Thames today

LONDON: Demonstrators hold placards during a “Kill the Bill” protest in Kingston upon Thames today

Avon and Somerset Police is investigating assaults on 40 officers and one member of the media.

The violence continued on Tuesday, when 15 arrests were made, before kicking off again last night. 

In the latest demonstration, more than 100 riot officers were deployed to disperse the crowd of more than 1,000 after people began throwing eggs, bottles and traffic cones towards police.    

Officers were seen beating at least one protester across the thighs as he refused to go quietly when he was apprehended. Two other videos on social media showed journalists being shoved back by officers.  

Ten arrests were made during last night’s protests, during which demonstrators had demanded the government scrap a new policing bill which criminalises marches deemed a ‘public nuisance.’

What legislation is behind the protests to Kill the Bill?

The Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill  could see the police handed more powers to tackle demonstrations.

The wide-ranging proposals include laws to reform sentencing, the courts and handling offenders.

If passed, some of the measures will be UK-wide while others may only apply in England and Wales. They include: 

– Whole life orders for premeditated murder of a child, allowing judges to also hand out the maximum sentence to 18 to 20-year-olds in exceptional cases, like for acts of terrorism leading to mass loss of life. 

– The legislation looks to toughen up powers the police have to tackle ‘non-violent’ protests which are significantly disruptive to the public or on access to Parliament.

– The proposed law includes an offence of ‘intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance’.

According to the Bill, someone commits this crime if they cause ‘serious harm to the public’, which can include ‘serious annoyance, serious inconvenience or serious loss of amenity’. Those convicted could face a fine or jail. 

Meanwhile, the Government is also seeking to increase the maximum penalty for criminal damage to a memorial from three months to 10 years, under the Bill.

The laws could also see police have more powers to crack down on unauthorised encampments which interfere with the ability to use the land.

Officers could also be allowed to stop and search people more if plans for serious violence reduction orders go ahead.

This would make it easier to carry out checks on those who have previously been convicted of carrying a knife.  

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