Fifth 'Kill the Bill' protest takes place in Bristol as part of national day of action

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By Epigram Reporters

The protest is the latest demonstration against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and has drawn a significant number of people to College Green.

Demonstrators began to gather on College Green from 4pm, with around 300-400 people arriving before the crowd began to march down Park Street towards the City Centre. The crowd set off at around 4:30pm with more protestors joining the demonstration at that time.

Around 1000 people made their way through the City Centre towards Castle Park before heading back in the direction of the Hippodrome. The atmosphere has been peaceful, with chanting and music heard throughout.

The demonstration passing Castle Park Epigram | Teddy Coward

The demonstration is currently staging a sit-in outside the Hippodrome in the City Centre, with speeches and performances being heard. Another group have marched to the Bearpit.

Some protestors have also erected boards around the plinth where the statue of Edward Colston had stood before it was toppled by protestors last summer.

This is the fifth 'Kill the Bill' protest to take place in Bristol in recent weeks. The demonstration has not been organised by any single group or individual but word has spread through social media and messaging groups.

It is part of a national 'day of action' with further demonstrations taking place in other cities including London, where former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attended.

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’.

The Bill would also criminalise trespass, which protestors say would effectively criminalise many Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’ way of life.

Speaking to Epigram, Maud, who had also attended the earlier protests, said: 'I'm here because I'm concerned about my right to protest ... I'm worried about the laws that are about to change. There might be more arrests, especially of the people who are going to lead, going to be in charge of, the protests and I'm very concerned about that.

'I just want to make sure that our right to protest is going to be retained. I don't want anything to change around that ... I'm just worried about our country becoming increasingly authoritarian.'

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.

However, the most recent demonstration, held on Tuesday, went ahead peacefully, with no injuries or arrests made. This followed a change to COVID-19 legislation that made protests exempt from the ban on mass gatherings.

Avon & Somerset police have encouraged those who oppose the legislation to do so in other ways but have stated that they will work to facilitate a peaceful protest this evening.

For updates of the protest throughout the evening, follow our live reporting on our Twitter and Instagram channels.

Featured image: Epigram / Teddy Coward


Are you taking part in any of the protests across the country today?



AUTHOR

Siavash Minoukadeh

Deputy Digital Editor 2020-21 | 3rd year Liberal Arts | Overcaffeinated