Bristol was plunged into another night of violence as clashes between riot police and leftist protesters on Friday evening saw officers attacked with makeshift missiles and fireworks.
Ten people were arrested by police during the latest #KillTheBill demonstration against Home Secretary Priti Patel’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is set to introduce draconian policing powers against protests in Britain.
The local Avon and Somerset Police claimed that the leftist radicals pelted officers with glass bottles and bricks, and police horses were targetted with fireworks. One horse was also covered in paint on the third night of violent altercations in the English port city.
Supt Mark Runacres, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “The majority of people acted peacefully however there was a minority who once again showed hostility to officers. Items, including glass bottles and bricks were thrown at officers, fireworks were launched at our mounted section while one of our horses was also covered with paint.
“This violent conduct is not acceptable.”
Firework explodes as horses charge at protesters in Bristol pic.twitter.com/Za5N4qHjqC
— Conor Gogarty (@ConorGogarty) March 26, 2021
The police also claimed that actions were taken to mitigate possible ammonia attacks, with officers equipping themselves in special protective gear after the substance was smelt among the crowd. Ammonia can cause blindness in severe cases, and in lesser instances, can cause burning sensations in the throat and eyes.
The police have also come under criticism for the use of harsh tactics employed to break up the protest, which supposedly violated coronavirus regulations that prohibit so-called mass gatherings. In one clip shared widely on social media, police appear to beat a protester on the ground with batons.
A reporter for the Daily Mirror, Matthew Dresch, shared footage which he claimed showed police assaulting him, despite announcing that he was a journalist and not a protester.
Police assaulted me at the Bristol protest even though I told them I was from the press. I was respectfully observing what was happening and posed no threat to any of the officers. I have muted the latter part of the video to spare you all the pain of hearing my shrill voice. pic.twitter.com/a7a0Nnw0bG
— Matthew Dresch (@MatthewDresch) March 27, 2021
“Officers repeatedly encouraged people to disperse but once the atmosphere changed and people became physical it was necessary to take action,” Supt Mark Runacres said.
“At times reasonable force had to be used — this is not something we ever want to do but we have a duty to uphold the law, prevent crime, and protect people and property,” he added.
Bristol has become a hotbed of left-wing activism in Britain, with some comparing the city to Portland in the United States. Last year, for example, Black Lives Matter activists ripped down a historical statue of British philanthropist Sir Edward Colston, before dumping it in the harbour as the police stood down. Bristol also hosted a massive climate change rally attended by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg in February of last year.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, the main force behind the policing bill, said: “I am disgusted by the disorder in Bristol and the violence being directed towards the police. I’m in no doubt the silent, law-abiding majority will be appalled by the actions of this criminal minority.
“Despite repeated warnings to disperse, it’s clear these thugs were only intent on causing trouble. I am receiving regular updates and the police have my full support.”
Patel’s proposed legislation would further curtail the right to protest in the United Kingdom, a right which has been severely diminished during the past year of coronavirus lockdowns. The bill would impose a ten-year prison sentence for causing “serious annoyance, serious inconvenience or serious loss amenity” during protests or for the vandalisation of statues or historical monuments.
More violent far-left protesting broke out in Bristol, England tonight. Last weekend, rioters tried to take over the police station. pic.twitter.com/iseCmIVPbR
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) March 26, 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also commented on the night of unrest, saying: “Last night saw disgraceful attacks against police officers in Bristol. Our officers should not have to face having bricks, bottles and fireworks being thrown at them by a mob intent on violence and causing damage to property. The police and the city have my full support.”
The protest, which began around 4 pm on College Green in Bristol’s city centre, was the third example of violent clashes in the city since last Sunday, in which 21 officers were injured during a protest turned riot. The police, however, did retract a claim that two officers had suffered broken bones during the riot on Sunday.
On Tuesday, leftists in the city attempted to establish a Bristol Autonomous Zone (BAZ)-style tent city, similar to the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seatle in the United States. Fourteen people were arrested as officers broke up the demonstration.
This move was later picked up by Antifa squatters in London, who have occupied an abandoned police station in Clapham in protest against the bill.
WATCH: Anarchy in the UK – Leftist Mob Torches Police Van, Attacks Officers in Chaotic Bristol Protest https://t.co/m0B5JVSa7x
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 22, 2021
Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka