Avon and Somerset Police officers dispersed the last of yesterday’s protesters at around 1.42am – after demonstrators marched through the city. Protests against the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill have raged across the country, with demonstrators angry over increased police power to curb “non-violent” protests, among other issues.
Protesters began demonstrating at 4pm in Bristol City Centre, with “more than 1,000” gathering to march.
At 12.44am, Avon and Somerset Police issued a Section 35 dispersal order following a ”number of incidents involving violence between the remaining protestors”.
Bristol Post reporter Conor Gogarty said tonight’s protests were “overwhelmingly peaceful”.
The reporter posted a video of police officer with riot gear and dogs forcing demonstrators back through Castle Park at 1.31AM.
Video at 1.37am shows dogs chasing protestors as officers shout “move back or you will be bitten”.
READ MORE: Kill the Bill protesters clash with police as ‘thousands’ storm London
On Saturday at around 4:30pm, protesters performed a flash mob at College Green with an effigy of Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Reporter Beth Cruse shared a photo of the effigy, which she described as “rather unflattering”.
By 7pm, around 500 people remained near Bristol’s Cenotaph at the conclusion of a “peaceful” march.
At 9.50pm, officers blocked the remaining protesters from marching down St Paul’s Junction, with demonstrators staging a sit-down protest in front.
A spokesperson for the police said: “The group has marched onto the M32 and are currently sat on the carriageway.
“The motorway has subsequently been closed to inbound traffic at Junction 3 in the interests of safety.”
At 10.24pm, protesters made their way to the city centre again.
Superintendent Mark Runacres, area commander for Bristol, said ahead of the demonstrations the officers have urged protesters to stay away.
He said: “We fully respect the fundamental democratic right of being able to protest and we have a long and proud history spanning many years of facilitating peaceful demonstrations.
“While we’re expecting significant numbers to attend, we’d still urge people to consider finding alternative ways to express their views given that we’re still in the midst of the pandemic.
“Restrictions may have eased but large numbers of people congregating together at any one time continue to present a risk of spreading COVID-19.”
Yesterday also saw ‘Kill the Bill’ protests in London, Newcastle, Birmingham and Liverpool.
Protesters are demonstrating against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which includes an offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance”.
Critics have suggested the bill severely curbs the right to protest, and Labour argues it will impose disproportionate controls on free expression.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It says lots of things about statues and almost nothing about protecting women and girls, and particularly dealing with violence against women and girls.
“This is a crime, police, sentencing and court bill, it should be the vehicle for addressing it. And there is nothing meaningful in it.”
Amanda Milling, co-chairwoman of the Conservative Party, said Labour’s move to oppose the crime bill was “shocking”, accusing the opposition of “trying to block tough new laws to keep people safe, including many vital measures to protect women from violent criminals.”