By Epigram Reporters
Protestors are gathering on College Green against the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, in the third display of Bristolian activism this week.
Today’s protest follows Sunday’s events, which made national headlines as demonstrators spray-painted New Bridewell Police Station and burned several police vehicles.
It also follows Tuesday’s protest which was broken up by police on College Green and led to a standoff between police forces and protestors into the early hours of the morning.
There has been a raised police presence around Bristol city centre ever since, including some police activity in and around the College Green area from midday today.
The University of Bristol sent out an email to students this afternoon, stating that ‘In light of recent events, if you are able to avoid the area around College Green, we strongly advise you to do so.’
The university also reminded students that wellbeing support is available to anyone who needs it.
The stand-off between protestors and the police is continuing into the night. To view live coverage, watch Epigram’s Instagram Live (@epigrampaper_) https://t.co/X8DpxoXWn8— Epigram (@EpigramPaper) March 24, 2021
Speaking to Epigram, Sanjana, a University of Bristol student, said: ‘I’m planning to go to the protest partly because I believe that the events of this week and the way that policing has manifested is so worrying and concerning and this is the way things are going before the bill so imagine what it is going to be like after.
‘Though there’s COVID, I think that we cannot afford to walk so easily into such a restriction on our freedoms - we need to show the government that this isn’t just a blip, we really don’t want this bill.’
Another protestor at the scene told Epigram: ‘I feel like it’s a basic human right that we’re close to having stripped away from us. So I think we definitely do deserve the right to defend that basic human right.’
Police had urged people not to attend today’s demonstration, with Chief Superintendent Claire Armes, having said: ‘Once again, we remind everyone that we’re still in a pandemic which has cost many lives and remains a significant challenge for our colleagues in the NHS.
‘We urge you not to come. We understand the strength of opposition to the proposed legislation, but please consider making your voice heard in different ways - such as contacting your MP or signing one of the petitions available online,’ she added.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is currently at committee stage, awaiting report stage and its third reading in the house of commons.
The bill proposes a significant piece of legislation to make provision relating to the police and other emergency workers, including allowing police to impose a start and finish time on protests and also setting noise limits.
The bill also proposes that damage to memorials or statues could result in up to ten years in prison and makes other changes to sentencing and conditional release.
Featured: Epigram / Billy Stockwell
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