Bristol: Police move protesters from College Green
Fourteen more people were arrested after another night of ugly scenes in the city, reports Bristol Live.
Police had to forcibly remove some protesters, including one man who was reportedly dragged back through police lines by his hair.
But protesters continued to refuse to disperse, and were detained for breaching coronavirus lockdown laws, and for obstruction.
One police chief said it was ‘disappointing that officers needed to take this action’.
In video footage shared online, a senior officer uses a loudhailer to warn protesters the operation was about to begin.
He tells them: “You indicated you planned to stay for one hour, several hours ago.
“The crowd will now disperse or force may be used.”
More than 200 police officers then entered and destroyed the protest camp, tearing down tents and banners, and using riot shields to forcibly push up and move along protesters who had been sitting on the grass chanting ‘peaceful protest’ at the approaching lines of police.
Riot police broke up another protest in Bristol
The first wave of the police operation cleared almost all of the couple of hundred protesters who had pitched a camp on Tuesday afternoon in protest at the controversial Police and Crime Bill – the same piece of Government legislation that people rioted in protest at on Sunday.
Police officers were filmed walking over a memorial shrine to the murdered London woman Sarah Everard, which had grown in the ten days or so since a vigil in London was broken up by police.
The camp set up by travellers and van dwellers was nearby, and police ringed College Green and marched towards it in close lines, using their riot shields to push sitting protesters to their feet.
The police pushed them to stand up and then used their shields to shove the protesters out of the camp, with officers ripping down tents and banners that had been erected earlier in the day.
In one scene, as police pressed up against a group of sitting protesters among the tents, one police officer was seen repeatedly punching one sitting protester before grabbing and yanking his long hair, using his hair to pull him back through the police lines, to the fury of the other protesters sitting with him.
protesters had erected tents on a green space
While Sunday night’s protest that ended in a riot outside a police was largely by political protesters who were campaigning against the Police and Crime Bill’s curtailing of the rights to protest itself, the protesters last night were travellers and people who live in vans in Bristol.
They say the same piece of Government legislation will also severely curtail their way of life, making parking up on land without the landowners permission, and trespassing, a criminal offence rather than a civil one for the first time in British legal history.
Their demo lasted for several hours into the early hours of Wednesday morning. There, protesters sat in the road, and eventually laid down linking arms, after placing single daffodils at the feet of the line of riot police facing them.
Eventually, police edged forward and began the process of taking away and arresting protesters one by one, telling them they were being arrested for obstruction and breaching coronavirus lockdown legislation.
Daffodils laid at the feet of police during the stand-off
A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset said: “A protest in Bristol of around 200 people has now concluded after officers enforced Covid-19 legislation.
“Mutual aid from neighbouring forces was requested to assist in dispersing the gathering on College Green – which began at 4pm – after efforts to encourage people to leave were unsuccessful.
“Highly trained public order officers from Avon and Somerset, British Transport Police, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Dyfed Powys, Gloucestershire, Gwent and Wiltshire were deployed to move protestors on at 10pm.
“Specialist police dog units, horses, the National Police Air Service and a police drone unit were also involved in the operation.
“While many left the area, a significant number gathered on Deanery Road and refused to disperse.
“A total of 14 people were arrested for offences including breaches of Covid-19 legislation and obstruction of a highway.
“One of those detained were also arrested for offences connected with the violent disorder in the city on Sunday.”
Police officers stand in position as protesters demonstrate against new policing laws
Chief Superintendent Claire Armes said: “Officers had engaged with protestors and asked them to disperse, but tents and a sound system were set up so it was abundantly clear they were intent on remaining at the location, in spite of legislation in place to protect public health.
“After the scenes of violence witnessed in the city at the weekend it was necessary to bring in additional resources from our neighbouring forces to ensure the protest was safely brought to a swift conclusion.
“Throughout the operation officers continued to urge protestors to move on – at no time were they contained – but there came a time when enforcement was necessary as gatherings are still not permitted.
“It’s disappointing that officers needed to take this action on a day we should be remembering all those who’ve lost their lives to Covid-19 over the past year.
“The communities of Bristol have made too many sacrifices and worked so hard to defeat this virus, it’s unacceptable for people to insult their efforts in this way,” she added.