Bristol protests: Boris Johnson condemns 'disgraceful attacks' on police

Demonstrators throw bricks and bottles at officers amid violent scuffles

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday condemned "disgraceful attacks" on police, after a protest in Bristol turned violent.

Ten arrests were made on Friday during the so-called 'Kill the Bill' demonstration against the extension of policing powers.

Missiles, including bricks and bottles, were hurled at riot police at the site where violence broke out last weekend.

Bristol – particularly Bridewell police station – has been a centre of protests against a government bill going through the UK Parliament that would give police new powers to restrict street protests.

Last Sunday, two police officers required hospital treatment for their injuries and at least two police vehicles set on fire in the city after a peaceful protest turned violent.

On Friday night, one protester said police were not the target of the protests.

“We come in peace – same as the other night. What happened on Sunday was regrettable.

"The police have a job to do. It's the politicians we are aiming at – public opinion will win in the end," said the protester, who would only give his name as Jonno.
About 1,000 protesters gathered near the police station on Friday and when officers urged demonstrators to go home, many sat down in the street.

Eggs and bottles were thrown at police and officers used riot shields to push protesters back.

Mounted police and dog units were called in help clear the area.

Earlier in the day, the crowd had been largely peaceful.

"Protesters are also pulling at officers' shields while lasers are being shone in their faces. We will not tolerate violent disorder. Arrests have been made," Avon and Somerset Police tweeted.

“Ten people were arrested for offences including violent disorder, assaulting an emergency worker and possession of Class A drugs,” Supt Mark Runacres of Avon and Somerset Police said.

Officers also blocked the route to Bridewell station and protesters chanted at officers to lower their riot shields.

Police were criticised for their actions earlier in March, when they cited Covid-19 lockdown measures to clear Clapham Common, a park in south London, where people were holding a memorial for murder victim Sarah Everard.

On Thursday, police released a short video of the attack on the van. An officer was still inside when the van was set on fire.

“The only way to protect my colleagues was to place the vehicle across, side on, in front of them,” the officer said, describing the attack.

"There were glass bottles, rocks as big as fists, pallets, fences and other objects strewn across the road and being used against the police."

The protest began in response to the government's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is still before Parliament.

It would give police new powers to impose time and noise limits on street protests.