U.K. Police Bill Protesters Turn Violent at Bristol Rally


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Violent protests erupted Sunday night in the British city of Bristol over a proposed police and crime bill that would create sweeping new restrictions on protests and grant broad new powers to the police.

Video from the scene showed a police vehicle ablaze and protesters charging at the graffiti-strewn vehicle. One officer suffered a broken arm and another a broken rib, the authorities said.

The “kill the bill” rally drew thousands of protesters in the southwest city, witnesses reported.

The authorities were quick to denounce the violence.

The British home secretary, Priti Patel, said the scenes in Bristol were unacceptable.

“Thuggery and disorder by a minority will never be tolerated,” she said on Twitter. “Our police officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect us all. My thoughts this evening are with those police officers injured.”

The Reuters news agency reported that one of its photographers had seen demonstrators launch fireworks toward police officers and scale a police building and spray graffiti on it. The photographer also saw police officers, some in full riot gear, trying to repel protesters using batons and shields.

Police officials said officers “have had projectiles thrown at them, including a firework, and have been verbally abused.”

Declaring that “these scenes are absolutely disgraceful,” the Avon and Somerset Police Department said in a statement that “those responsible for offenses will be identified and brought to justice,” the force said on Twitter.

The policing bill being debated in Parliament would make it easier for the authorities to set limits on demonstrations and punish protesters who refuse to comply with the rules.

Opposition to the measure increased in the wake of a police crackdown on a rally held in London earlier this month to protest violence against women.

The police drew widespread criticism for their handling of a vigil to mark the killing of a 33-year-old woman. The vigil in South London was for Sarah Everard, whose killing touched off a national outcry over misogyny. Officers from the Metropolitan Police, the main London force, clashed with some of the attendees.

Bristol’s mayor, Marvin Rees, said Sunday that he recognized “the frustrations” with the policing bill, the BBC reported, but that “smashing buildings in our city center, vandalizing vehicles, attacking our police will do nothing to lessen the likelihood of the bill going through.”

The New York Times


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