Fourteen people have been arrested after police broke up a second protest in Bristol city Centre Tuesday night.
Specially trained public order officers were deployed to College Green, where police said around 200 people had gathered from 4pm.
It was the latest ‘Kill the Bill’ protest in the city against the Government’s Police, Crime, sentencing and Courts Bill, which will see the police handed new powers to tackle demonstrations.
Police say they attempted to disperse the crowd by encouraging people to leave, but their requests were ignored and a tent and sound systems were then set up by organisers.
Reports say highly trained public order officers from Avon and Somerset, British Transport Police, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Dyfed Powys, Gloucestershire, Gwent and Wiltshire were deployed to move protestors on at 10pm.
Shortly before 11pm, police said protesters had been moved off College Green but that a “significant number” remained on Deanery Road “and continue to refuse to leave the area”.
The force tweeted: “Officers will take proportionate action to disperse crowds. They are not containing anyone and we continue to urge people to move on.”
About 90 minutes later, police reminded the public that gatherings were not permitted, warning demonstrators they “risk spreading the virus further”.
A statement issued by Avon and Somerset Police later confirmed 14 people were arrested for offences including breaches of Covid-19 legislation and obstruction of a highway, with one arrest in connection Sunday’s violent disorder.
Chief Superintendent Claire Armes said: “Officers had engaged with protestors and asked them to disperse, but tents and a sound system were set up so it was abundantly clear they were intent on remaining at the location, in spite of legislation in place to protect public health.
“After the scenes of violence witnessed in the city at the weekend it was necessary to bring in additional resources from our neighbouring forces to ensure the protest was safely brought to a swift conclusion.
“Throughout the operation, officers continued to urge protestors to move on – at no time were they contained – but there came a time when enforcement was necessary as gatherings are still not permitted.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the condemnation of the riot describing the scenes as “unacceptable”, while Home Secretary Priti Patel said “thuggery and disorder” would never be tolerated.
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees, who said he had “major concerns” about the government’s bill, condemned the thuggery but said the disorder would be used to justify the legislation.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give the police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance.
Those convicted under the proposed legislation could face a fine or jail.