What many had thought would be a peaceful protest turned disgraceful in Bristol, on Sunday.
Obscene scenes later erupted in the city after a demonstration against plans to give police more powers to deal with peaceful protests spilled over into violence.
The ‘Kill the Bill’ rally in Bristol, southwestern England, saw a police station attacked, officers suffer broken bones and a number of police vehicles set alight.
What started as a non-violent demonstration in the city centre against the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill turned ugly quickly after hundreds of protesters marched from College Green to the New Bridewell police station.
Hundreds of people gathered at College Green in Bristol before marching to a police station on nearby Bridewell Street.
Pictures showed graffiti being sprayed on an Avon and Somerset Police vehicle and it being rocked side to side by protesters.
Police said missiles had been thrown at them, including a firework, and that they have been verbally abused.
Other pictures showed mounted officers intervening to disperse the large crowd that had gathered outside the New Bridewell police station.
“The protest is now focused on Bridewell Street so we’d advise motorists to avoid this area,” a police spokesman said.
“We’re aware of a small number of incidences of criminal damage during the afternoon, including graffiti, and these will be investigated.
“Officers are continuing to deal with a smaller number of protesters in Bridewell Street.
“They’ve had projectiles thrown at them, including a firework, and have been verbally abused.
“This is unacceptable behaviour and those responsible for offences will be identified and brought to justice.”
Irish Examiner said, 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.
Many were 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”.
Avon and Somerset Police had urged people not to attend the demonstration, warning that enforcement action could be taken.
“Officers are engaging with several people who’ve turned up at the protest,” the spokeswoman added.
“Officers are continuing to engage with those attending.
“Enforcement action will be taken retrospectively when necessary and proportionate.”