Thousands of ‘Kill the Bill’ protesters have marched through central London today as officers arrest seven people and crowds take to the streets in 40 towns and cities across the country against increased police powers.
Demonstrators were seen pouring through Trafalgar Square on Saturday with little care for social-distancing to demand the government scrap a new bill which criminalises marches deemed a ‘public nuisance.’
The Met Police confirmed seven people across the capital city have been arrested today, adding: ‘The demonstration has reached #VauxhallPleasureGardens where people remain. Officers are on site and continue to engage with those taking part.’
It is the latest in a series of protests against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Hundreds also rallied in Brighton, Bristol, Cheltenham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Truro and Sheffield despite the continued threat of coronavirus.
The legislation was the subject of widespread dissent in March, particularly in the student area of Bristol where police were subjected to abuse which Boris Johnson described as ‘disgraceful.’
Demonstrators take part in a protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 in central London on May 1, 2021. Previous ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstrations have turned violent, with protesters demanding the withdrawal of the legislation, which critics say harshly restricts the right to peaceful protest
Demonstrators walk through the streets of London earlier today during a Kill the Bill protest. One person is seen holding up a sign which reads: ‘Don’t talk to them’
A protester holds a smoke canister during a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest in central London today
Demonstrators are seen gathering near Buckingham Palace in central London during a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest this afternoon
Demonstrators hold signs outside the Home Office, as they take part in a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest in London, Britain, May 1
Demonstrators hold up a banner during a march through central London as part of the ‘Kill the Bill’ protests
A police officer during the march in London today with a protestor seen holding up a ‘Kill the Bill’ sign in the background
Police officers stand guard outside the Home Office on Saturday as hundreds of people arrive to demand the bill is killed
Protestors march past Admiralty Arch on the Mall in central London during a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest on Saturday. Among the flags flying is the black banner of Antifa
Protesters are joined by a bus rigged up with a tannoy system during today’s protest in the capital
A coalition of activist groups are staging the demonstrations today as the bill progresses through parliament this month.
Sisters Uncut, a feminist group helping to lead the action, have condemned the legislation as ‘authoritarian.’
Dani Cane, a youth worker who plans to attend the protest on Saturday told The Big Issue: ‘The police have repeatedly proven that they are drunk on power, and will always use violence against us, not just against the most vulnerable people they routinely target, but anyone who they deem to be not behaving in a way they approve of.
‘It is vital that we prevent this bill from being passed in order to keep ourselves safe and resist the authoritarian abuse of state power. We must be able to hold the police accountable for the violence they relentlessly cause.’
Jess Sharp, a domestic violence worker who was also heading to the demos, said: ‘The police are bullies and perpetuate endless violence, giving them more power puts us at more risk and so we cannot allow this bill to pass.’
A line of police officers stand behind a crowd of Kill the Bill protestors in London earlier today as people continue to demonstrate against new legislation called the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
Re flares are held in the air by these two women in the middle of a crowd of Kill the Bill demonstrators in London earlier today
A number of banners were held in the air by protestors in the capital today as they marched in protest against proposed new legislation
A group of demonstrators hold up a banner in London earlier today and are followed by a number of people waving flags
Multiple ‘Kill the Bill’ signs are waved in the air earlier today in London as protestors gathered to demonstrate
Protestors march down the Mall in central London during a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest on Saturday, May 1, 2021. The demonstration is against the contentious Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The Bill was drafted partly in response to previous disruptive action by Extinction Rebellion and also the Black Lives Matter movement.
Demonstrators hold flares as they protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in central Manchester today
The Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would see the police handed greater powers to tackle demonstrations.
The Bill was drafted partly in response to previous disruptive action by Extinction Rebellion and also the Black Lives Matter movement.
The proposed legislation would give police in England and Wales more powers to impose conditions on non-violent protests – including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance, with those convicted liable to fines or jail terms.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but over recent years we have seen an increase in the use of disruptive and dangerous tactics.’
He added: ‘These new measures will not stop people from carrying out their civic right to protest and be heard, but will prevent large scale disruption – enabling the silent majority to get on with their lives.’
Speaking ahead of the protests today, Commander Simon Dobinson of the Metropolitan Police, said: ‘We have attempted to make contact with the organisers of Saturday’s demonstrations.
‘It is their responsibility to comply with the regulations and ensure their gathering is safe.
‘Officers will be present to try to engage with protestors, to explain the restrictions, encourage compliance and take steps to enforce the restrictions if it is necessary to do so.
‘Anyone intending to engage in violence or disorder needs to understand that police we will take steps to prevent that behaviour. We will not tolerate attacks on our officers and staff.’