In spite of police warnings, thousands of people have gathered in Bristol to demonstrate against the controversial new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Today at 2pm a large demonstration began on College Green in protest of the contentious new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The Bill was announced on 10 March 2021 and lays out stricter measures around peaceful protests, including a tightening on what the police could implement.
Under the new legislation the police will be able to implement a start and finish time to protests and set noise limits.
The Bill further outlined that a failure to comply with the new police restrictions would result in a £2500 fine and that damage to memorials – in wake of the toppling of the Colston statue in Bristol- could result in 10 years imprisonment.
Over the last week details about the protest have been distributed.
As the event approached, Avon and Somerset police issued warnings about social distancing and warned people that their attendance would be in breach of lockdown rules.
In spite of these police warnings, several thousand people gathered to march from College Green in the direction of Broadmead.
Mya-Rose Craig, 19, an environmental campaigner with an honorary degree from Bristol University, told Epigram at the protest: ‘I’m here today because I think protesting is a democratic right that we all deserve to be able to do and in my opinion it’s authoritarian and criminal that they are trying to make protests punishable by ten years in prison compared to things like rape or sexual assault.
‘Considering all the things going on lately I think it’s outrageous so I’m here today to show that I think that.’
First-year Politics and Social Policies student at the protest, Grace Burton, said ‘the march is bigger than I thought and people are angrier than I thought. This is important because the right to protest is integral to a democratic debate.’
Jason Palmer, the current Bristol SU Equalities, Liberation and Access Officer, meanwhile, said he was at the protest because he believed ‘everyone has the right to speak up for what they believe in and to have that taken away is diabolical… there’s a fundamental right to protest that’ s under threat and any attempt to sacrifice government rights should be protested.’
Another second year Medicine student added, ‘there are lots of people. It is good to see so many people fighting for our democracy.’
This is rolling story – updates to follow.
Featured Image: Epigram / Filiz Emily Gurer
Have you attended the protest against the new Bill?