Monday March 22, 2021
Rioters attack officials
UK police law demo escalates
An initially peaceful protest against the planned police law in Great Britain escalated into violence against officials in Bristol. Some police officers are seriously injured. The attackers can only be stopped with support.
In the western English port city of Bristol, protests against a planned police law have resulted in violent riots and clashes with security forces. In the riots in the city center, numerous people attacked a police station, as reported by Sky News. According to the police, at least two emergency vehicles were set on fire. Several officers were injured and at least two were broken.
Home Secretary Priti Patel spoke of “unacceptable scenes” and wrote on Twitter that “nefarious violence and minority rioting will never be tolerated”. As the police announced on Twitter, several hundred demonstrators had initially gathered in front of a police station in the afternoon. “What began as a peaceful protest was turned into violent rioting by a small minority,” said Chief Detective Will White. “These scenes are an absolute shame and will meet widespread opposition from the citizens of this city. There can never be any kind of excuse for wanton rioting.” No one broke into the police station, but the facade of the building was damaged. The police requested reinforcements from the surrounding area to bring the situation under control.
The police law introduced by the conservative government (Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill) grants the security forces much more extensive powers than before. It provides, for example, that peaceful demonstrations may in future be more restricted by the police if they “intimidate the public” or cause “serious discomfort” because of noise or for other reasons.
Opposition MPs had criticized the law as an expression of the government’s “penchant for authoritarianism”. The plan to increase the maximum penalty for damaging monuments to up to ten years’ imprisonment is also causing sharp criticism of the law. Last summer, protesters of the “Black Lives Matter” movement overturned a statue of a former slave trader in Bristol and thrown it into the harbor basin.
Regardless of the law, the British police are currently heavily criticized. Officials last weekend, for example, at an unauthorized meeting in memory of Sarah Everard, who was allegedly kidnapped and killed by a police officer in London, cracked down on corona measures to be enforced and arrested several women.