At least two police officers have been hospitalized after being attacked during a protest in the English city of Bristol by a minority of protesters who also damaged vehicles and a police station, Avon and Somerset Police said Sunday.
Chief Superintendent Will White said that “what began as a peaceful protest was transformed by a small minority into a violent riot,” condemned by politicians from all parties, including Bristol’s Labour mayor, Marvin Rees.
The protest was organized to condemn the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently before the British Parliament, which, among other things, aims to give more powers to the police to manage demonstrations.
After marching peacefully through the center of the southwestern English city, a minority threw firecrackers, smashed windows of buildings and cars, painted graffiti and attacked several officers, two of whom have suffered broken bones.
The mayor declared that the damage caused “is unacceptable” and “has nothing to do with the real work we do to confront economic, political and social inequality.”
He added that he understands people’s “frustration” over legislation that, he noted, “is ill-conceived and could impose disproportionate controls on freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest.”
But he stressed that violence “will not work” to prevent the law from being passed, as the Conservative government has a majority in the House of Commons.
For her part, Home Secretary Priti Patel warned that disruption and violence by a minority “will not be tolerated.”
Earlier on Saturday, at least 36 people were arrested during an anti-confinement protest in London, in which several officers were also injured.
Met deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said most of the arrests were for violating anti-covid regulations, in a demonstration where many attendees were not wearing masks.
The demonstration followed last weekend’s heavy-handed police crackdown on a mainly female-led event in honor of Sarah Everad, the 33-year-old woman abducted and killed by a police officer as she walked home alone in London on March 3.
As a result of this criticized police action, more than sixty parliamentarians sent a letter to Patel yesterday asking him to “expressly exempt the holding of protests from the restrictions” introduced by the pandemic, in order to preserve this right while respecting the regulations against the virus.