NEWS
24/03/2021 11:24 GMT | Updated 24/03/2021 11:31 GMT

Police Drag Man By The Hair On Second Night Of 'Kill The Bill' Protests In Bristol

They arrested 14 people on suspicion of breaching Covid-19 legislation and obstructing a highway.

Riot police dragged a man away by his hair during another night of protests in Bristol, as demonstrators continued to voice opposition to the controversial new policing bill.

Cops arrested 14 people as they broke up the protest, leading to violent scenes at College Green on Tuesday night.

Footage from the event (see video above from 0.23) shows officers pulling a man away from a crowd by his hair as he is seated on the ground.

It came two days after a protest on Sunday night saw 21 police officers injured, police vehicles set alight and a police station’s windows smashed.

According to 44-year-old Chris Batt, who was filming Tuesday’s events, the demonstration was peaceful for hours until seven police vans showed up.

“In the early evening the atmosphere was one of happiness and a joyfulness. Singing, laughing and joking, something we haven’t seen in a very long time,” he told HuffPost UK.

“The police liaison officers chatted to the organiser and at one point I’ve got them saying [the protesters] were allowed to stay and they were even asked if they needed water and toilets provided. This was later withdrawn.

“Then seven police carriers went past and they started pulling people off the green. It was carnage, absolute carnage.”

PA Media

It was the latest “Kill the Bill” protest in the city against the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would see the police handed new powers to break up demonstrations.

The legislation includes provisions to crack down on protests if they are too noisy or cause “serious annoyance”, and seeks to toughen the punishment for people who damage statues.

Critics say it includes the “some of the most draconian crackdowns on the right of peaceful protest we’ve seen in our lifetime”.

But the authorities claim it is necessary to keep pace with how society has changed since previous legislation was written in 1986.

“The bill affects everybody, regardless of your demographic or what you believe. It will affect everyone,” said Batt.

“What I can envisage happening is if you genuinely have a concern and you want to protest about it, if the government doesn’t agree with it, they will close you down straight away.

“That to me is taking one of our fundamental freedoms. We should be allowed to do what we want to do.”

The national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales has said officers in Bristol feel “under siege” following the second night of protests.

John Apter told the BBC: “I really feel for my colleagues in Bristol.

“There is a sense that you really feel under siege. And for some, whatever they do is not enough and for others, it’s too much.

“This was on an evening where the vast majority of the country were remembering those many thousands of people who have been lost to this horrible virus, so it was not good scenes to see, and this was on the back of the most horrendous violence that we’d seen on Sunday evening.

“So my colleagues are battered and bruised, in some cases physically. We’ve got a number of officers who were injured on Sunday evening, some very seriously. This is completely unacceptable, completely unacceptable.”

Avon and Somerset Police said around 200 people gathered for the latest protest, which began at about 4pm on Tuesday.

Mutual aid from neighbouring forces was requested to assist in dispersing the gathering after attempts to encourage people to leave were unsuccessful, a force spokesperson said.

Public order officers from Avon and Somerset, British Transport Police, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Dyfed-Powys, Gloucestershire, Gwent and Wiltshire were deployed to move protesters on at 10pm.

Police dog units, horses, the police helicopter and a police drone unit were also involved in the operation.