Thousands join 'kill the bill' rallies across Britain against proposed protest law

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 4, 2021

Since the proposed law was brought before parliament last month, there have been sporadic demonstrations across the country, with Saturday's rallies being part of what organisers said was a national weekend of action.

"At this stage, 26 people have been arrested for a variety of offences including assault on police and breach of the peace", the Metropolitan Police said in a statement, adding that the policing operation is still ongoing and that the number of arrests is likely to rise.

The so-called "Kill the Bill" demonstrations also took place in Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle, Brighton, Bournemouth, Weymouth and Luton to protest against the Police and Crime Bill - which propose to give police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including those which are deemed too noisy or a nuisance.

"(I'm here) to defend the rights of free speech, and the rights of organisations in our society", said Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the opposition Labour Party who was among several thousand who demonstrated in central London.

The marchers decried a United Kingdom government initiative to give police more power to curb protests. The legislation, which is moving through Parliament, would let police break up peaceful demonstrations if they think they're disruptive.

Several women addressed the crowd and shared personal experiences of suffering abuse and being drugged.

"We want the clauses in this bill about protests quashed", said Mark Duncan, one of a crowd of more than 500 marching through central London, banging drums and chanting.

Projectiles were thrown as police pushed protesters away.

Ministers and police have defended the proposals, saying they were needed to tackle demonstrations such the ones by Extinction Rebellion in 2019, where mass occupations of roads and bridges in London and elsewhere stretched police resources to the limit. "Officers continue to engage and we urge those who remain in the area to leave and return home".

Superintendent Richard Bell said: "We have always sought to find the right balance between the rights of protesters and those of residents and businesses, while also considering the very real risks from the spread of the virus".

Protestors have begun to march through the city centre and are now on St Augustine's Parade.

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