Home U.K Kill the Bill protester says being 'pepper sprayed' by police was 'unfair'...

Kill the Bill protester says being 'pepper sprayed' by police was 'unfair' and 'traumatic'

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Cydanie Smith, 20, attended the protests which descended into ugly scenes of violence on Sunday.

During which, she refused to move from the pavement she was sat on outside a police station and she told Bristol Live she was pepper-sprayed as a result.

But the young woman has yet to make a formal complaint to Avon and Somerset Police, a force from which 21 officers were injured in the fracas.

Cydanie said: “I feel it was very unfair treatment and I feel like I was targeted as someone who may be seen as a weaker character being young and female.

“At the time it was very traumatic, I have a lot of bruises where I was sitting on the floor and one of the officers pushed me so I was lying on the ground.

“I have never experienced blindness or pain like that on my face and in my eyes. It is extremely scary not knowing who is around you.”

She says a friend pulled her away and poured milk in her eyes to ease the pain.

 

Cydanie was one of thousands to descend on Bristol city centre to demonstrate against the Government’s planned Police and Crime Bill which will give powers to curtail protests. 

The young woman is a firm believer in protests and worries the bill will take away all power from the people

The University of the West of England (UWE) student, who is studying Illustration, had a placard which said ‘It is a human right to protest’ and Pippa’s placard said ‘Kill the bill’.

She said as the events descended, she found herself caught in the middle of a crowd shouting at police officers who were enforcing COVID-19 restrictions and tackling rioters – whose behaviour she says she does not condone “at all”.

“You need to understand why I’m here!” she says she shouted at officers while they held raised shields.

She says she was trying to say to police officers: “Just stand down and respect what we are trying to achieve.”

Avon and Somerset Police has been asked to comment but the force does not respond to individual cases unless a formal complaint has been made to them.

Recalling the moment she was alledgedly pepper sprayed, Cydanie said: “Me and my friend were sat on the pavement, we were asked to move by the police and tried to reason with them.

“I asked them ‘Why are we being told to move? We’re just sitting here on the ground and we’re not doing anything wrong’.

“One of them had medic written on her shield and I was like ‘you’re supposed to be a medic! Why are you threatening to pepper spray me, I am just sitting on the ground?’

“They said, ‘If you don’t move, you’re going to get pepper sprayed.

“I then said ‘why are you threatening me when you’re supposed to be protecting me?’

“Then the next thing I know they’ve sprayed a little bit in my face and they’re like ‘move, move! Get up!’ And then we were being pushed by them. And then I was putting a hand in front of my eyes whilst they were trying to spray it all in my face.”

According to police guidance, pepper spray can be used from a one-metre distance and Cydanie said the spray was very close to her eyes.

She left soon after this happened and says she had felt ill ever since, having inhaled the spray’s toxins which have given her “bad chest pains.”

Chief Constable Marsh, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “Let’s be clear, the wanton violence and destruction had nothing to do with protest – it was committed by those looking for an excuse to commit disorder. The scenes we witnessed yesterday were shameful and I know will be condemned by the whole city.”

The force will now carry out a “significant investigation” to find those responsible for the scenes in the city.



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