“Kill the bill” rallies against larger police powers rock the UK

Photo: EPA

A national weekend of action united hundreds protesters who staged rallies across the UK with demands to halt a draft bill which aims to secure additional powers to police to limit protests, Reuters reported. The controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill increases the range of measures that law enforcement officers can impose to scatter demonstrations such as time and noise limits. Protesters fear that those points may be used as an excuse to smash any social unrest.

Since the bill was brought before parliament last month, there have been sporadic protests, notably in Bristol, southwest England, where demonstrations turned violent with officers and a police station bombarded with bricks and glass bottles and police vehicles set on fire. Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticised what he described as “disgraceful attacks” on officers, but protesters have accused police of using heavy-handed tactics. On Saturday, climate change group Extinction Rebellion (XR) and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement joined other activists for “Kill the bill” rallies in London and other towns and cities, including Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Brighton.

“The government are trying to curtail protests - especially BLM and XR - that is what this bill is all about. 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.Days of protests by Extinction Rebellion paralysed parts of London in early 2019, action which fuelled calls from some politicians for the police to be given the tougher powers to prevent excessive disruption.

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