Home U.K Protesters claim police injured 62 people during three 'Kill the Bill' demonstrations

Protesters claim police injured 62 people during three 'Kill the Bill' demonstrations

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Bristol: Huge police presence at ‘Kill the Bill’ protest

Officers say they had “an obligation to act” after multiple protests in Bristol turned violent last month. Some cops themselves suffered serious injuries in the fracas, with one even sustaining a collapsed lung.

But dozens of protesters were hurt too, it is now alleged.

Twenty were hit by batons, a report seen by Bristol Live claims.

A further 11 were allegedly struck by shields and, among the rest, seven people were supposedly bitten by police dogs in the city.

But only seven of the 62 people hurt needed treatment in hospital, it is said.

Bristol Defendant Solidarity, a group on behalf of the protesters, has set up a reporting procedure to allow people to describe their injuries, how they were received and when.

“The following summary has been compiled from the emails received to date, which include medical reports, legal observer reports and numerous self-report emails from protesters themselves,” a spokesman for the group said.

The list compiled from these emails is not in any sense a complete tally of injuries to protesters and is likely to be an underestimate, but it gives an impression of the extent and kinds of brutal assault experienced by protesters as a result of police violence.”

Bristol Kill the Bill

Protests have turned ugly in Bristol of late (Image: Bristol Live)

He added: “Medics and legal observers reporting injuries did not witness all injuries, but only those in their direct vicinity, or those which they themselves treated. We do not know how many protesters either did not hear about the injury reporting email address or did not feel comfortable reporting incidences of police violence against them to an anonymous email address.”

The group said they had not attempted formally to verify the numbers of people who attended hospital in the aftermath of all three of the protests that involved riot police, and said the figure of seven was only those people who reported themselves that they had gone to hospital.

“This again, is likely to be an underestimate, as multiple injured people said they were too scared to go to hospital for fear of police reprisals,” the spokesman continued.

“This list is likely to change as more people come forward.

“The more public the efforts to take seriously and respond to police violence against protesters at these protests, and the more widely publicised the reporting mechanisms, the more victims are likely to feel safe enough to come forward.”

hundreds gather in Bristol

Hundreds have gathered in Bristol for the marches (Image: PA)

The first three Kill The Bill protests descended into violence in the last week of March. The first, on Sunday, March 21, saw protesters attack a police station. That followed riot police deployed with batons and shields to protect a police van that protesters were attempting to overturn.

That night saw scenes of police vehicles being torched that were condemned by Mayor Marvin Rees and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The second Kill The Bill protest saw around 200 travellers and van-dwellers holding a protest camp on green space. It was broken up by force by around 200 police in riot gear, who physically dispersed the sitting protesters off the green using shields, dogs and horses.

Then on the Friday that week, around 1,000 people staged a sit-in protest in Bristol city centre, next to a line of police in riot gear guarding the nearby police station.

There have been multiple protests in the city, and elsewhere, since then.

The protesters have been campaigning against the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill, which will curtail the right to protest, as well as criminalise common trespass.

In response to the reports of 62 people injured by police, Chief Superintendent Claire Armes, who took the decision to disperse the crowd by force on the Friday night protest, said that police had to use “reasonable force” to keep both the public and themselves safe.

“We fully respect the fundamental democratic right of being able to protest and we have a long and proud history spanning many years of facilitating peaceful demonstrations,” she said.

“However, it is our duty to uphold the law, prevent crime and protect people and property, and so on the rare occasion when incidents of disorder occur, we have an obligation to act.

“Sometimes this may mean instructing people to disperse or making arrests, while there may also be times when officers need to use reasonable force to keep both the public and themselves safe.

“All public order officers are professionally trained in approved tactics and accredited by the College of Policing to police complex events, particularly those where public safety is a factor.

“Force is not something we ever want to use but people can be reassured that it is only used when absolutely necessary.

“Where people are concerned they have been treated unfairly by officers at a protest, we will work with them directly to overcome these concerns. Any complaints made to our professional standards department will be reviewed, assessed and investigated as necessary.”



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