Bristol: Police suffer broken bones as ‘Kill the Bill’ protest turns violent

Video report by ITV News Reporter Mark McQuillan

A demonstration about plans to give the police more powers to deal with non-violent protests has turned violent.

Two police officers have suffered broken bones as hundreds of people gathered at College Green in Bristol before marching to a police station on nearby Bridewell Street.

A police van has been set alight, while pictures showed graffiti being sprayed on an Avon and Somerset Police vehicle and it being rocked side to side by protesters.

Police said missiles had been thrown at them, including a firework, and that they have been verbally abused.

Responding to the scenes, Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: "Unacceptable scenes in Bristol tonight. Thuggery and disorder by a minority will never be tolerated.

"Our police officers put themselves in harms way to protect us all. My thoughts this evening are with those police officers injured."

Other pictures showed mounted officers intervening to disperse the large crowd that had gathered outside the New Bridewell police station.

Protester smashes a Bridewell Police Station window as they take part in a 'Kill the Bill' protest in Bristol. Credit: PA

Chief Superintendent Will White, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “What started out as a peaceful protest has been turned by a small minority into 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. Officers have been subjected to considerable levels of abuse and violence.

A vandalised police van explodes outside Bridewell Police Station, after protesters set it on fire. Credit: PA

"One officer suffered a broken arm and another suffered broken ribs. Both have been taken to hospital. “These are men and women out there with the intention of serving and protecting the public – they should never be subjected to assaults or abuse in this way. “At least two police vehicles have been set on fire and damage has been caused to the outside of the station.

ITV News Wales and West of England Correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports live from the scene:

“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 his criminal behaviour will be identified and brought to justice. There will be significant consequences for behaviour such as this.”

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said: “We have faced times of great confrontation, particularly surrounding Black Lives Matter and the events that followed. We have had numerous protests.

Protesters graffiti and vandalise a police van outside Bridewell Police Station, as they take part in a 'Kill the Bill' protest in Bristol. Credit: PA

“Our police, city representatives and I have been able to point out with pride that we have faced these moments of conflict without the physical conflict that others have experienced.

“Those who decided to turn today’s protest into a physical confrontation and smash our city have robbed us of this.

“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.”

Riot police, with police horses behind them, move down Rupert Street in Bristol towards protesters. Credit: PA

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 were wearing face masks and carried placards, saying: “Say no to UK police state” and “Freedom to protest is fundamental to democracy” and “Kill the Bill”.

People take part in the ‘Kill the Bill’ protest in Bristol. Credit: PA

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

“Officers are engaging with a number of people who’ve turned up at the protest,” the spokeswoman added.

“Officers are continuing to engage with those attending.

“Enforcement action will be taken retrospectively when necessary and proportionate.”