'We are disgusted' - Bristol Mayor speaks out after protestors turned violent at Police and Crime Bill demonstration
Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees joined Good Morning Britain where he voiced how "disgusted" he was by the protestors who turned violent against the police yesterday during the Police and Crime Bill demonstration in his city.
Speaking to Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard about the protests, he said: "People had gathered through the afternoon, making their concerns known about the Bill, and then at a certain point a group of people within that larger group made it violent and turned it into physical confrontation with the police trying to smash up buildings and smash up our city."
"We are disgusted. We absolutely condemn what has gone on. What they have done is they haven’t just smashed windows and attacked police officers, we have injured police officers with broken ribs and broken arms. A police service that has served us incredibly well over the last year. I have been incredibly proud, not just nationally but internationally, of the way we have managed quite tense situations...and those people who have done this have taken from us this year in which we have navigated very tense situations and kept peace and built partnerships," he added.
On the impact of the events on the Bill, he said: "I draw a hard line between those people out smashing up my city yesterday and the Bill. They have got nothing to do with the Bill. I would imagine, and I think experience would suggest, that there are a group of people running around the country looking for any opportunity to enter into physical conflict with the police or representatives of what they see is the Establishment… Let’s do the debate around the Bill justice and not attach it to these people who have gone out and smashed up our city."
He added that he couldn’t yet offer an update on the health of the officers who were injured but said "we will be writing to those officers that have been injured in the line of duty last night and our thoughts are with them."
He continued: "Creating peace is a collective act. The police have been walking tightropes, we recognise that. They have to enforce Covid [regulations] and we have been working very closely, there is a whole collection of city partners, ourselves, the health service, the police, our voluntary community sector, universities over this last year, saying we all have to do our bit. The police have been very concerned to take an approach to inform and educate and engage with the public whenever they see people breaking the rules and enforcement was seen as the last act really, but that takes all of us participating in a constructive way.”
He added that those who turned violent were "out there to cause problems, for whatever kind of revolutionary fantasy they are playing out in their minds."
Rees vowed: "We are not going to let them take away what we have built over recent years… over the last few years in the face of incredible hardship, we have fed our children, we have tackled poverty, we have housed homeless people, we have built homes for families, we have done incredible things together and we are not going to let these people take that away. I think what will be interesting in the mop-up, not just to have these people arrested but to see where these people come from as I would imagine a few are not from this city, but revolutionary tourists as it were."
Asked how he would describe those who cause the violence, he said: "Self-indulgent, selfish, self-centred, because what they have done has nothing to do with the Bill. And in fact, as everyone has been pointing out...it will be used as evidence by those who want to support the Bill. So they have no strategy, they have no connection to any real politics. It is just them taking the opportunity to express their emotions."
"Being a black man, I am from a community that is disproportionately likely to end up on the wrong end of the criminal justice system and receive unfair treatment from that system. If they make the Bill more likely, it does not bring me closer to justice, it pushes justice further away," he added.