‘This is wrong’ - Bristol protesters speak out after action turns to violence

  • Watch protesters explain why they are demonstrating

Protesters in Bristol have criticised the police after events in Bristol turned violent.

Three separate ‘Kill the Bill’ protests held in the city this week have resulted in disorder and arrests.

Avon and Somerset Police has defended its tactics at the protests, during which officers in riot gear and on horseback have been deployed.

The force said “a minority” were to blame for the disorder, while the Prime Minister and Home Secretary have both condemned protesters for attacking police.

Protesters have criticised police for their tactics at events in Bristol this week. Credit: PA

Speaking to ITV News West Country before last night’s demonstration turned violent, protesters criticised police for their handling of recent events.

“The police bring out as many people as possible and I think that’s what we have to do, too,” one said.

“It’s really important to show that this can be democratic and this can be peaceful and that’s kind of what we’ve been trying to do all night - sitting down and kneeling down,” another said.

There was also criticism of the way Avon and Somerset Police had retracted its claims about two of its officers being injured during the protest on 21 March.

Initially, police bosses had said two officers suffered broken bones.

However, in a statement on 24 March, the force said “further medical assessments” had revealed neither of the two officers had broken any bones.

“We clarified the extent of injuries proactively in our official media update to be as transparent as possible,” a force spokesperson said at the time.

But one protester at last night’s demonstration accused the force of lying.

Protesters spoke to ITV News West Country before the disorder on 26 March.

“A lot of it is police lying about their broken arms, getting the big story of the media out, getting all the sympathy for the policemen,” he said.

“Turns out, that was all a lie."

Meanwhile, protesters also gathered in Bath on 27 March in opposition to the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would give police increased power to stop protests.

  • Watch: Protesters in Bath

Why are people protesting?

People have been demonstrating against a proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would give police increased power to stop protests.

The Bill also makes a special new law to protect monuments and statues, in the wake of the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston, with the crime of damaging them punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Under new government proposals trespass would become a criminal offence - rather than being a civil matter - in order to tackle unauthorised encampments, giving police the power to seize vehicles and arrest people who refuse to move.

Those breaking the new law on trespass could be fined up to £2,500 and could face a prison sentence of up to three months, but concerns have been raised by both academics and organisations that the new law will disproportionately affect travellers and more widely those living on roadside camps.

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