Screenshot of image tweeted by user @ben_crocket at 9:10pm GMT on 21 March 2021.
Twenty police officers were injured as protests in Bristol objecting to a proposed bill that would expand UK police powers to restrict non-violent protest descended into violence.
Hundreds had gathered on Bristol’s College Green on Sunday afternoon to protest the legislation that would see noise and time restrictions imposed on protests, before a smaller number marched on Bridewell Police Station on Nelson street.
Tensions rose at the initial sit-down protest as riot police, dogs and police horses were deployed in the streets around the station, according to reports from Bristol Live.
Protesters, many of them masked, daubed police vehicles with graffiti targetting the police and Home Secretary Priti Patel, launched missiles at police and smashed the station’s windows amid chants of “10 years for protests, five years for rape”.
Demonstrators scaled the police station, positioning themselves on the roof of the ground floor, while others jumped on to the roof of a second police van hitting the glass as officers tried to manoeuvre the vehicle, after another had been set alight.
The injuries officers reportedly suffered are of varying gravity. Two are reported to have suffered from broken bones, while a third is believed to have suffered a punctured lung.
Chairman of the Avon and Sonmerset Police Federation Andy Roebuck said: “Disgusting scenes in Bristol by a mob of animals who are injuring police officers, members of the public and damaging property.” The violence has been condemned across the country by politicians and police officials.
John Apter, the Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, described the evening’s events as “horrenduous”, pointing to the latent criminality of some of the protesters.
“This is not about protecting the right to protest, it’s violent criminality from a hardcore minority who will hijack any situation for their own aims,” he said.
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned the “unacceptable scenes”.
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.
Thangam Debbonaire, Labour MP for Bristol West, shadow secretary of state for housing and a critic of the proposed legislation said: “The scenes of violence and direct attack on the police in Bristol city centre will distress most people including anyone who believes in defending the right to peaceful democratic protest.”
On 16th March, the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill, which would see the defacing of statues punishable by up to 10 years in prison, passed its second reading in the House of Commons with 359 ayes and 263 noes. Cambidgeshire Live has since reported that it has been delayed.
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