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by Bethany Rielly
DOZENS of “Kill the Bill” protests are sweeping the country this weekend in defiance of police warnings against gatherings.
About 50 rallies are due to take place against government plans to hand police more powers to restrict peaceful protest.
Extinction Rebellion and Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate are among many local groups urging supporters to join protests in Bristol tomorrow on College Green.
Crowds are also planning to gather in London’s Trafalgar Square at 11am on Saturday.
Protest is now listed as an exemption from restrictions on gatherings under Covid-19 regulations, and can take place providing organisers provide a risk assessment.
But the Metropolitan Police warned on Thursday against the protests, saying: “Enforcement action will be taken, if needed, in the interests of public health.”
Feminist activist group Sisters Uncut, which organised mass protests against the Bill outside Parliament earlier this month, is not involved in the demos this weekend, instead calling for a national day of action on Sunday for people at home.
The group is urging people to call their local radio station and voice opposition to the policing Bill.
“This Bill affects communities differently, but is bad for all of us: it threatens our right to work, assemble, protest and travel,” the group said in a statement.
“This also means that we will need all of us to defeat it, this movement leaves no-one behind.”
The latest round of protests against the policing Bill comes after two weeks of actions in Bristol saw riot police using batons, horses and dogs against protesters.
A number of MPs have since called for an independent investigation into the policing of the protests following evidence of protest injuries and alleged assaults against reporters.
Bristol Trades Council, which represents 30,000 workers from 13 trade unions, passed a motion on Thursday strongly opposing the “repressive” legislation and condemning police violence against peaceful protesters.
The council also called for an independent investigation into the incidents.
Local group Bristol Defendant Solidarity is collecting data on the number of protesters injured during the clashes to “help us set the record straight” after anger over media coverage of the protests largely ignored attacks on demonstrators.
Kill the Bill protests are also taking place this weekend in Southampton, Manchester, Birmingham, Bath, Brighton, Cardiff, Derby and Lancaster.
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