Hundreds of protesters turned out in Bristol to protest a bill that would dramatically expand police powers in the UK. Clashes soon broke out, with demonstrators launching projectiles, and police responding with batons.
The House of Commons passed a controversial policing bill last week which, in addition to providing stiffer penalties for serious crime, sets out prison sentences of up to 10 years for anyone causing “serious annoyance or inconvenience” in public – a provision that activists say will be used to clamp down on peaceful protest.
After nationwide protests against the bill on Saturday, hundreds of people gathered again in Bristol on Sunday, assembling in College Green before marching to a nearby police station. RT’s video news agency, Ruptly, captured hours of footage from the protest.
The city’s constabulary were out in force, forming a line against the hundreds-strong crowd. Clashes soon broke out, and chants were replaced by projectiles and fireworks from the protesters’ side, and batons and riot shields from the police side.
Demonstrators sprayed a police van with graffiti at one point, before attempting to topple the vehicle over. The van was later torched by protesters.
“We’re aware of a small number of incidences of criminal damage during the afternoon, including graffiti, and these will be investigated,” Avon and Somerset Police stated on Twitter after the protest had dispersed. “This is unacceptable behaviour and those responsible for offences will be identified and brought to justice.”
While officers scuffled with protesters, the police response was not as severe as in London on Saturday, when riot officers arrested at least 33 people and were seen on video repeatedly kicking one downed demonstrator.
Having passed its second reading in the House of Commons, the policing bill now faces scrutiny from the House of Lords. It has been criticized by multiple human rights groups, including Amnesty International and the Rights of Women campaign group. Democratic Unionist Party MP Gavin Robinson said that the bill includes “overreaching, sweeping and draconian provisions on protest” that would “make a dictator blush.”__RT.com