By Epigram Reporters
Around 100 demonstrators are currently gathered to oppose the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, following earlier protests which ended violently last week.
From 6pm, demonstrators had begun to gather on College Green with the current number of protestors standing at roughly 100.
Many demonstrators are wearing masks and keeping a safe distance from one another. There is a calm atmosphere with speeches being heard, including from Tom Baldwin, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate for Bristol mayor.
The demonstration has not been organised by any single group or individual but word has spread through social media and messaging groups.
Protestors are opposing the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which the Government plans to pass through Parliament.
Specifically, demonstrators are concerned about changes to the right to protest that would give authorities the power to restrict any protest deemed to cause a ‘serious annoyance’.
Tim, who was attending the protest, and had gone to earlier demonstration as well told Epigram he was attending because 'it's really important to keep our freedoms and just to say that it's not OK for the police to be so violent ... I feel like the police already have too much power.'
The Bill would also criminalise trespass, which protestors say would effectively criminalise many Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’ way of life.
This is the fourth protest against this legislation in recent weeks. The previous demonstrations, held on 21, 23 and 26 March made national headlines for the scenes of unrest at the first protest and for how police used force in subsequent demonstrations.
Today’s protest is the first against the legislation to not be illegal under COVID-19 legislation banning mass gatherings, after the law changed yesterday.
Avon & Somerset police are still discouraging people from attending however, and in a statement, encouraged those who oppose the Bill to make their feelings known in other ways.
Whilst the current police presence on College Green is limitee, it could grow as the evening progresses.
Horse units have been seen making their way to the site, suggesting they may once again be brought out to disperse the crowd at a later stage. However, Bristol Post's Tristan Cork reported that at a briefing for the event earlier today, officers stressed that their response would be more light than at previous demonstrations.
I attended the briefing for police officers ahead of this evening’s protest.— Tristan Cork BLive (@TristanCorkPost) March 30, 2021
The message senior officers gave their teams was that the police’s approach will be low key, with Neighbourhood policing teams leading the effort to facilitate the protest (m/f)#BristolProtest
Featured image: Epigram / Teddy Coward
Are you attending this evening’s protest?