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BRISTOL, England, March 27 — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson strongly criticised on today what he called “disgraceful attacks” on police officers after protests in Bristol, western England, against a new policing bill turned violent, resulting in 10 arrests.
Local police said a demonstration involving more than 1,000 people yesterday afternoon had been largely peaceful, but a minority had shown hostility to police later in the evening.
“Last night saw disgraceful attacks against police officers in Bristol. Our officers should not have to face having bricks, bottles and fireworks being thrown at them by a mob intent on violence and causing damage to property,” Johnson said in a tweet.
“The police and the city have my full support.”
Police in riot gear beat back crowds of protesters with shields and batons, Reuters pictures and TV showed.
Bristol has been a centre of protests against a government bill going through parliament that would give police new powers. Last Sunday two police officers were seriously injured and at least two police vehicles set on fire in the city after a previous peaceful protest also turned violent.
Large protests are not allowed due to Covid-19 restrictions, but the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill would give police new powers to impose time and noise limits on street protests.
That has angered activists and scrutiny of police tactics has increased since a heavy-handed police response to a London vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard.
Police faced further criticism after a journalist for the Daily Mirror newspaper yesterday filmed a policeman hitting him as he shouted “what are you doing? I’m press”.
In a tweet along with the video journalist Matthew Dresch said: “Police assaulted me at the Bristol protest even though I told them I was from the press. I was respectfully observing what was happening and posed no threat to any of the officers”.
Police said they were aware of the video and were making efforts to contact the journalist. — Reuters
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