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'Kill the Bill' protesters block traffic by sitting down on motorway as dozens arrested across UK

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·4-min read

Watch: "Kill The Bill protesters block M32 motorway in Bristol

Traffic in Bristol was brought to a standstill when “Kill the Bill” protesters sat on a motorway as demonstrations against plans to increase police powers were held across England.

Thousands of people marched in cities and regions to protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill despite the COVID-19 lockdown.

The proposed legislation would give police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests.

Crowds gathered for another weekend of protests in several regions including London, Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool, Dorset and Bristol.

Read: Pupil violence against teachers getting worse, union says

Protesters in Bristol brought traffic to a standstill when they blocked the M32 motorway at junction 3 by sitting on the road. 

More than 1,000 people attended the Bristol protest, according to Avon and Somerset Police. 

Demonstrators walk along the A4032 which leads to the M32 in Bristol during a 'Kill The Bill' protest against The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Picture date: Saturday April 3, 2021.
Demonstrators walk along the A4032 which leads to the M32 in Bristol during a 'Kill The Bill' protest against The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. (PA)

The force issued a section 35 dispersal order for the city centre early on Sunday morning following "a number of incidents involving violence between the remaining protesters".

In London, the Metropolitan Police said arrests were made when "a small minority" of protesters were still in London's Parliament Square on Saturday evening.

The Met Police later said that ten officers had been injured, "none of these are believed to be serious".

It added that 26 people had been arrested for a variety of offences including assault on police and breach of the peace and possession of an offensive weapon.

Police face demonstrators on the A4032 which leads to the M32 in Bristol during a 'Kill The Bill' protest against The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Picture date: Saturday April 3, 2021.
Police face demonstrators on the A4032 which leads to the M32 in Bristol during a 'Kill The Bill' protest against The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. (PA)

Commander Ade Adelekan described the protests as a "challenging day for officers".

He said: "The vast majority of people who turned out in central London today did so while adhering to social distancing.

"They engaged with my officers when required and left when asked - I would like to thank them for doing so."

He added: "We remain in the middle of a global pandemic and we have made great progress in controlling the spread of the virus; we will not allow the selfish actions of a small number of people to put Londoners' progress in jeopardy."

Dozens of police with riot helmets had arrived in Westminster as protesters continued the stand-off with officers.

Watch: 'Kill the Bill' protestors take to the streets across England

The majority of protesters from the Kill the Bill demonstration, who gathered at Parliament Square earlier in the day, had dispersed several hours earlier.

But some stayed behind and shouted "shame on you" repeatedly at officers.

The remaining protesters marched down Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, where violent scuffles broke out with police.

Earlier at the demonstration in Parliament Square, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told crowds that the policing Bill was a "very dangerous, slippery slope," as he defended the right to protest.

To cheers and applause, he said: "If we don't protest, things don't change."

Demonstrators walk along the A4032 which leads to the M32 in Bristol during a 'Kill The Bill' protest against The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Picture date: Saturday April 3, 2021.
Demonstrators walk along the A4032 which leads to the M32 in Bristol during a 'Kill The Bill' protest against The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. (PA)

In Newcastle, there was a low-key response from Northumbria Police as hundreds of people gathered beneath Grey's Monument.

Protesters, including one who held up a placard saying "we will not be silenced", cheered as a singer with a guitar performed in opposition to the proposed bill.

Demonstrators who marched from the monument through Newcastle city centre chanted: "Whose streets, our streets."

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Many took the knee at the Civic Centre and held a minute's silence for victims of oppression, after which a round of applause broke out.

Meanwhile, Dorset Police thanked those who took part in "peaceful protests" in Bournemouth and Weymouth and stuck to the Covid-19 restrictions.

Superintendent Richard Bell said: "We have always sought to find the right balance between the rights of protesters and those of residents and businesses, while also considering the very real risks from the spread of the virus."

Watch: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: What's in it and why it's caused controversy