Bristol Police Face Backlash After Violent Clashes With Protestors
Police officers in Bristol are facing criticism for their behaviour following violent clashes with protestors opposing the government’s Police and Crime Bill.
Protestors gathered in the city for the third time last night, March 26, to demonstrate their opposition to the bill that will give police and the home secretary greater powers to crack down on protests.
Many attendees attempted to highlight the fact they were protesting peacefully by sitting down, but officers became defensive when some attendees reportedly began to throw things at them.
See shocking footage of the officers’ responses below:
Superintendent Mark Runacres said glass bottles and bricks were among the items thrown at the officers, and that protesters also launched fireworks and covered one police horse in paint, The Guardian reports.
He commented, ‘This violent conduct is not acceptable. Officers repeatedly encouraged people to disperse but once the atmosphere changed and people became physical it was necessary to take action.’
By 10pm officers moved to disperse the attendees, arguing they were in ‘breach of COVID legislation’ and using dogs, horses, vans and a helicopter to move the crowds. Footage from the protest shows officers wildly swinging their riot shields, seemingly targeting the seated protestors.
Social media users have slammed the officers involved for their behaviour, with one arguing that some of them should be ‘in custody facing criminal charges’ after the protest.
Twitter user Alex Tiffin wrote, ‘Misconduct hearings aren’t going to cut it… Some of the tactics used are indefensible.’
Another Twitter user wrote, ‘Yet another generation of peaceful protesters are being brutally criminalised by the police, who are violently provoking them, waiting for their natural reaction to defend themselves & then arresting & prosecuting them for violent disorder!’
Some attendees were later treated for the effects of pepper spray, and police made 10 arrests for offences including violent disorder, assaulting an emergency worker and possession of class A drugs.
A 22-year-old student named Jen, who was among the protestors hit with pepper spray, told The Guardian, ‘My eyeballs are burning. I can’t believe the police have done this. We were here to protest peacefully. The atmosphere was good, then they just piled in.’
Last night’s protest in Bristol was one of 13 planned demonstrations set to take place across England this weekend.
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