In the past 12 months police forces in Britain, France and the United States have been targeted by Black Lives Matter activists, then anti-lockdown protesters and feminists. The alleged murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer has triggered a new wave of protests.
The Mayor of Bristol and the Home Secretary have led widespread criticism of anti-police demonstrators who turned violent on Sunday night, causing £1 million worth of damage in the city and injuring 20 police officers, two of them seriously.
The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “This is a shameful day in an incredible year for Bristol. These people should feel shame.”
Not sure the best way to go about protesting for the right to protest peacefully is to protest non peacefully.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) March 21, 2021
Protesters took to the streets of the city in the west of England for ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration against a new police and sentencing bill which would increase the police’s powers to combat peaceful protests.
But after the protest turned ugly and footage emerged of police vans on fire Gary Lineker, the former England footballer and a regular liberal voice on Twitter, tweeted: “Not sure the best way to go about protesting for the right to protest peacefully is to protest non peacefully.”
Many people who should be able to work it out are still unwilling to see how this hijacking of peaceful protests happens. So here is an attempt to make it easy to understand. pic.twitter.com/zk1s5bBBJQ
— Colin Sutton (@colinsutton) March 22, 2021
The Home Secretary Priti Patel was a more predictable voice of anger on Twitter. She called the scenes in Bristol “thuggery” and offered her sympathy to the injured police officers.
Unacceptable scenes in Bristol tonight.
Thuggery and disorder by a minority will never be tolerated.
Our police officers put themselves in harms way to protect us all.
My thoughts this evening are with those police officers injured.
— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) March 21, 2021
Under England’s COVID-19 rules, protesting is not a “reasonable excuse” for leaving home.
In June last year Bristol was in the headlines when protesters toppled a statue of Sir Edward Colston, a slave trader and philanthropist, and threw it into the harbour. Several people await trial over that incident.
This is inexcusable.
It is totally wrong and counterproductive to respond to the government’s proposed draconian limits on protest through descending into violence against the police.
Hoping all those suffering injuries tonight have a fast and full recovery. https://t.co/qhirIR0wgd
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) March 21, 2021
Mr Rees claimed many of the rioters on Sunday were “protest tourists” from outside Bristol and said: “Smashing buildings in our city centre, vandalising vehicles, attacking our police will do nothing to lessen the likelihood of the bill going through. On the contrary, the lawlessness on show will be used as evidence and promote the need for the bill.”
The BLM protests were anti-police, it is a key goal of the organisation.
The worrying events in Bristol tonight are an extension of that.
We have given into and encouraged the extreme left, and this is the result.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) March 21, 2021
The Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset, Andy Marsh said on Monday, 22 March: “People are not standing up and identifying the organisers. There were about 3,000 people at the protest when it started at College Green. That came down to about 400-500 who decided to take it in a violent direction outside Bridewell (police station).”
He said the trouble broke out around 5.30pm on Sunday and it took until 1.30am before the police were able to “restore some order to the streets of central Bristol.”
Folks I’m sorry to tell you But I believe last Saturdays events on Clapham Common; & London yesterday & today’s Riots in Bristol are likely to be the Beginning of Widescale public disorder; we have been far too Tolerant with Activist groups for which we will NOW pay heavy price🤦♂️
— Norman Brennan (@NormanBrennan) March 22, 2021
How it started 👇 How it’s going 👇 pic.twitter.com/UNwEu5NZuF
— Save Our Statues – Robert Poll (@_SaveOurStatues) March 22, 2021