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Violence at protest ‘disgraceful’, says PM

Violence at a third night of protests in Bristol has been condemned as “disgraceful” by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Ten people were arrested after a Kill the Bill protest ended in scuffles.

Police said a “minority” of protesters “showed hostility” and arrests were made after a sit-down protest in front of a police station.

One journalist claimed he was assaulted by police during the operation to clear the streets.

Mr Johnson said a “mob” was “intent on violence” after “bricks, bottles and fireworks” were thrown at police.

Mass gatherings are currently banned under coronavirus legislation and anyone breaching regulations could be fined.

Protesters said they were unhappy about an element of the Police and Crime Bill, which would ban residing on any private or public land in vehicles without permission where they are causing “significant disruption, distress or harm to local communities”.

Marchers on the Kill the Bill march in Bristol

Daily Mirror journalist Matthew Dresch posted a Tweet which he said showed him being assaulted by officers as they cleared the city centre, despite telling them he was a member of the media.

In response, the force said it was trying to contact Mr Dresch and that a free press was “a cornerstone of our democracy”.

One Labour MP has called for an independent investigation into the policing of the most recent protest, after reports of journalists and marchers being injured.

Nadia Whittome, who represents Nottingham East, Tweeted that the case for an investigation “was clear”.

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Home Secretary Priti Patel criticised the disorder 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,” she said.

“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.”

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The protest had started earlier in the day on College Green before moving during the evening to Bridewell police station, the scene of disorder on Sunday.

Police in riot gear blocked access to the road and protesters sat in front of them in response.

But, officers moved in after 22:00 GMT after the “atmosphere changed” and “people became physical”.

Footage showed police in riot gear using their shields to strike protesters and push them back.

Supt Mark Runacres, from Avon and Somerset Police said “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 said many of the marchers had heeded police warnings to go home, something he was grateful for, but that some who stayed in the centre had attacked officers by throwing missiles including bottles, a bicycle pedal and eggs.

Supt Runacres added that “at least three” of the people detained during the latest protest had been arrested for offences committed during Sunday’s disorder.

He added that the force was “concerned” that there could be more protests in the city in the coming days, and that “it is something we are preparing for”.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds told BBC Breakfast that “whenever there is violence, that is completely unacceptable”.

She said protesters should be using “other ways of expressing whatever dissatisfaction they have”.

Asked whether the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which Labour has opposed, seeks to prevent the sort of scenes seen in Bristol, Ms Dodds said the party’s criticism concerned “the lack of measures within that bill to protect women and girls”.

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