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Starmer tells LBC violence at Bristol protest 'inexcusable' and 'completely unacceptable'
22 March 2021, 10:07 | Updated: 22 March 2021, 11:19
Sir Keir Starmer has told LBC the violence at last night's 'Kill the Bill' protest in Bristol is "inexcusable" and "completely unacceptable".
A police station was attacked, officers injured and vehicles set alight as Sunday’s protest was marred by violence.
A total of 12 officers were injured during the unrest, two of them seriously.
Police Federation representatives said Avon and Somerset officers had suffered broken arms and ribs after being attacked by rioters.
Speaking during LBC’s Call Keir, the Labour leader said: “Looking at the images last night, looking at the images again this morning, inexcusable, completely unacceptable and I hope that the preparators are identified and prosecuted where that’s appropriate.”
He said he had spoken to Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees, who “was expressing the anger that the people of Bristol feel that this has happened in their city”.
“He feels strongly that in Bristol that they’ve been through a very difficult year, they’ve pulled together through the pandemic and the anger that this has happened is there among every decent member of the community in Bristol,” Sir Keir added.
The protest started on College Green on Sunday afternoon, with many activists wearing face masks and carried placards, saying: "Say no to UK police state" and "Freedom to protest is fundamental to democracy" and "Kill the Bill".
However, what started as a non-violent demonstration turned violent after hundreds of protesters descended on the New Bridewell police station.
Protesters smashed the windows of the glass-fronted police station.
They also tried to set fire to one of the marked police vans parked outside the station but the small flames were quickly extinguished by riot officers.
Other protesters set fire to a police van parked on Bridewell Street, near to the police station.
Cars parked in a multi-storey car park adjacent to the police station were also damaged by protesters.
Avon and Somerset Police said its officers had missiles and fireworks thrown at them and used mounted officers and dogs to disperse the mob.
Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: "Unacceptable scenes in Bristol tonight. Thuggery and disorder by a minority will never be tolerated.
"Our police officers put themselves in harm's way to protect us all. My thoughts this evening are with those police officers injured."
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give the police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance.
Those convicted under the proposed legislation could face a fine or jail.
Mass gatherings are currently banned under the coronavirus legislation and anyone breaching the regulations could be fined.