The protests in Bristol are focused on several issues, including the ‘Kill the Bill’ Bill, Violence against women, and the Police’s handling of protests. One recent protest led to the Statue of a slave trader being toppled. The Bill is also seen as an attack on alternative lifestyles.
‘Kill the bill’ protests.
Thousands of people have demonstrated against proposed changes to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, including former Labour minister David Cameron. The protests were marred by police brutality. The proposed changes would limit the right to protest, set start and finish times for protests, and limit the noise of demonstrations. Protesters who cause a “serious annoyance” could face up to 10 years in prison.
Protesters sprayed graffiti on police vehicles and vans at the Bridewell police station, which was used as a rallying space. They were protesting the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will give the Police new powers to deal with protests. When darkness descended, the protest became violent. Protesters were backed by regional anarchist organizations and the Bristol Anarchist Federation.
The Police responded with riot gear, rows of police vans, and mounted Police. A police helicopter stayed overhead for much of the night. Liaison officers, who engage with the public during demonstrations, were not present at the protest. The protestors staged a sit-in and chanted and played music at one stage. Some of them abused police officers, but the majority did not.
Protesters took to the streets of Bristol in a ‘Kill the bill’ march. They demanded the courts drop charges against those who are suspected of crimes. This action is a reaction to the recent rioting that occurred in Bristol. Police responded to the demonstrations by arresting one male on suspicion of committing a public nuisance.
The Bill has also been criticized for its authoritarian approach and violation of democratic rights. The legislation would also make it a felony to damage statues or monuments. Anyone convicted of destroying these monuments could face up to 10 years in prison. Although the Bill has passed through Parliament, protesters have sparked an international debate.
Violence against women
Protesters have voiced their displeasure at a police crackdown on protesters in Bristol. Two separate protests were held in the city on Tuesday, with the Avon and Somerset police intervening to prevent further damage to the demonstrators. During the demonstrations, blading and chanting were common, as were sound systems and more than a few swears. Most marchers dispersed after the protests, drifting off to the castle park or into the city center, and a handful of others made their way to the police station.
Protesters believe that the current legislation does not tackle violence against women. Unless it is tackled decisively, this trend will continue to escalate. The protestors consider that women must be protected from these abuses to preserve their dignity. It is not just the physical assaults of women that they are protesting. They are also concerned about the erosion of their identity and sex rights.
Protesters hope that the Bristol march will spark a conversation on gender-based violence. Bristol University student Alena Chetty has organized the protest, hoping to attract hundreds of people. The demonstrations are part of a 16-day campaign to raise awareness of the issue. This includes events and social media campaigns. The protests in Bristol are timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, which is on November 25.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which has a section on protests, is currently making its way through Parliament. It proposes new laws for severe crimes and stricter sentences for those who commit them. This may help the Police regain a measure of control over these protests.
Police’s handling of protests
Many people have criticized the Police’s handling of protests in Bristol. The protests started on March 23 as a peaceful demonstration against elements of the policing Bill that target traveling communities. Protesters had set up tents and were prepared for a quiet day of action. However, the Police responded in an ugly way. They manhandled and brutalized protesters, harassed journalists, and made 14 arrests.
The Home Secretary has condemned the Police’s handling of the protests. There have been several protests in Bristol, with some masked protesters attempting to storm the central police station. Protesters also threw missiles and fireworks at Police and tried to set fire to a police van. Senior police officers have branded the protesters a “mob of animals,” and the head of the Police Federation has decried the “mindless violence” of the protesters.
After the protests, a parliamentary inquiry found that the Police had used excessive force and failed to distinguish between peaceful protesters and rioters. In some cases, they misinterpreted the law, assuming that protesters were violent. Moreover, it has been suggested that the Police may have engaged in revenge policing’, as the aggressive behavior was a reaction to an attack on the Police Station at Bridewell.
The riots in Bristol were a low point in the relationship between the Police and the community. It is hardly surprising that the Police would have acted out of character. In Bristol, the African-Caribbean community had a troubled relationship with the ASP. The ASP had raided the Black and White Cafe in 1980, which was a catalyst for the Bristol uprising.
The Statue of the slave trader toppled.
Bristol’s city council has been under pressure to remove a statue of a slave trader following protests in which it was attacked. A statue of slave trader John Colston was erected in 1895, and protesters called for it to be taken down. Bristol Museums, which owns the Statue, tried to justify its presence by claiming Colston never traded in enslaved Africans. However, protesters gathered thousands of signatures to force the city council to remove the Statue.
Bristol City Council’s decision to remove the Statue has sparked a national debate about statues. Protesters wanted Colston’s role in the slave trade to be acknowledged publicly. Still, the Statue was not accompanied by a plaque, and the plaque’s wording was seen as watering down the significance of slavery. The Statue has been treated with disgust by Bristol citizens for decades. It has been vandalized with white paint, a ball and chain, and a traffic cone. Protesters called for the Statue to be removed, and a petition gathered over 7,000 signatures. The protests in Bristol grew out of a national movement for statue removal, prompted by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The Statue needs to be fully upright. It is now on a wooden stand, and the city council has commissioned a public consultation to decide what to do with the Statue. The responses will be archived and made publicly available. They will also serve as a resource for schools and researchers studying the slave trade in Bristol and the city’s links to it.
While the city council is trying to get to the bottom of the controversy surrounding the Statue, they are wary of protest movements. They have imposed new laws to protect the city’s heritage. The new rules require anyone who wants to remove a statue to obtain full planning permission, which is likely to frustrate protesters.
Calls for peers to stop the Bill from becoming law
Hundreds of people in Bristol and across the country have joined the call to stop the Bill from becoming law, calling for its rejection by peers. The proposal would expand stop and search powers and could criminalize traveler communities. However, the Government says the changes are designed to balance the rights of protesters with those of others. The Bill is now being debated in the House of Lords, where peers will vote on whether or not to approve it.
A protest march held on Friday, May 5, in Bristol, called for peers to block the Bill from becoming law. Demonstrators held decorated riot shields and placards that read “Remove the Tories, not our rights” and “Democracy without dissent is a dictatorship.”
The Bill was first introduced in Parliament in 2005. It was accompanied by an article by Andrew Turek in the Cambridge Law Journal, which argued that Irish peers were not entitled to the further peerage. As a result, the peerage should have ended when the Irish Free State became independent. Turek also pointed out that there is no basis for calling representatives of the people who have already been elected to Parliament.
While the Bill is based on the Articles of Union, the Bill was never meant to breach that principle. The Government is confident that it will pass it with Royal Assent. While hereditary peers will no longer have automatic access to the House of Lords, Scotland is only partially unrepresented because many life peers are domiciled in Scotland.