A demonstration escalated Sunday in Bristol, in the west of England. Following a protest against a bill that included increasing police powers in the face of non-violent protests, hundreds of people gathered around Bridewell Police Station. Two police officers were hospitalized, one with a broken arm and the other with broken ribs, Avon and Somerset Police reported in a statement on Twitter.
“What started as a peaceful protest turned into a violent disorder with the action of a small minority,” said Will White, a police official who spoke of “absolutely shameful” scenes. “Officers have been subjected to considerable levels of violence and insults,” he added.
Two police vehicles were set on fire and damage was caused outside the police station. Photos posted on the BBC website show a protester smashing the windows of the police station and fireworks erupting amid the crowd.
Home Secretary Priti Patel denounced on Twitter “unacceptable scenes in Bristol”. “Violence and disorder (committed) by a minority will never be tolerated. Our police are putting themselves in danger to protect us all, ”she wrote.
Unacceptable scenes in Bristol tonight.
The violence and disorder of a minority will never be tolerated.
Our police are putting themselves in danger to protect us all.
My thoughts tonight are with the injured police officers.
– Priti Patel (@pritipatel) March 21, 2021
John Apter, National President of the Police Federation of England and Wales spoke of “horrific scenes in Bristol”. “It’s not a demonstration, it’s just senseless violence,” he added.
On the demonstrators’ placards, one could read “Say no to a police state” or “The freedom to demonstrate is fundamental for democracy”.
Mass gatherings banned
Bristol North West Labor MP Darren Jones said the attacks on the police were “totally unacceptable”. “We do not campaign for the right to demonstrate peacefully by setting fire to police vans or by tagging buildings,” tweeted the parliamentarian.
Mass gatherings are currently banned in England due to the coronavirus pandemic. In London, a demonstration against containment brought together several thousand people on Saturday. At least 36 people were arrested and several police officers injured.