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Mayor of Bristol responds to Friday’s Kill The Bill protest

By Lowie Trevena , Saturday Mar 27, 2021

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees has released a statement in response to the third Kill The Bill protest.

The protest, which began peacefully in the afternoon of Friday, March 26 became violent later into the night.

It was the third protest in Bristol against the the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in less than a week.

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Rees says: “The violence on our streets is unwelcome. Of particular concern are the number of people travelling into our city to protest or to cause conflict. You can protest in your own town or village, without travelling to ours.

“The question those engaging in the action should be asking is: is what I am doing advancing the cause I claim to be campaigning for? Many people protested peacefully but there are a number who refuse to go home and others who are here merely to cause conflict: the Bill itself is not their cause, it is their opportunity.

“If the protests are meant to reduce the likelihood of the Bill, then the actions of some of these protestors are politically illiterate and strategically inept. The actions make the Bill more likely and protesting in Labour-led Bristol does not put any pressure on the Conservative MPs who will be required for the Bill to pass.”

The third Kill The Bill protest took place on Friday, March 26. Photo: Simon Holliday /

Rees adds: “Avon and Somerset Police in Bristol have shown they are capable of managing protests well and with sensitivity and have developed a strong culture of working with our communities. The numbers of people coming to Bristol mean more police have had to be brought in from neighbouring constabularies. This makes it more difficult to drive the culture we have been building over recent years.”

“Our local leadership have a difficult job and they have the highest standards to maintain. We know they will review some of the incidents that occurred last night and ensure those standards are upheld.

“Everyone has a responsibility for their own actions – be honest about your role and your intentions. And any activism has a responsibility to get its strategy right, especially when it is the most vulnerable who will pay the price for failure. Any protests must be thoughtful, meaningful, peaceful and accountable.”

Many have criticised Rees’ response, saying that Avon and Somerset Police were instigators of the violence and asking him to condemn their actions.

One person said: “Not even mentioning the obvious excessive police violence? You should be ashamed of yourself for this statement, people in your city are being brutalised for peaceful protest and you’re choosing to condemn them. Journalists are being assaulted and you’re saying nothing.”

Avon and Somerset Police have been accused of using excessive violence. Photo: Photo: Anya Agulova/@ascendphotographicinsta

Bristol24/7 Editor Martin Booth  was detained in the early hours of Wednesday morning while walking home and staff at the Bristol Cable and the Daily Mirror have been assaulted over the course of the protests.

Some have responded with videos and photos that appear to show police being violent towards protesters; video footage apparently shows police officers stamping on and hitting one man with a baton and another video seems to show a woman being hit in the face by a police officer.

Another individual responded to the statement saying: “Marvin, you need to acknowledge the police have lied about injuries amongst their own officers and have been filmed using violence towards protesters, the press and random members of the public. A balanced judgement on what is happening would include this information. Omitting this information is tantamount to condoning this behaviour.”

Superintendent Mark Runacres, from Avon and Somerset Police gave a statement on the violence, saying: “All the officers policing the incident are specially trained and accredited in public order and showed exceptional patience in the face of a significant disorder.

“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.”

Main photo: Simon Holliday

Read more: Third night of violence on streets of Bristol in less than a week

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