Violence Erupts at London #KilltheBill Protest

Updated: Apr 18

Police clashed with Kill the Bill protesters on Saturday night after, what was, a largely peaceful demonstration in retaliation of a new Policing Bill, recently passed by Parliament.

107 people were arrested for a variety of offenses and ten police officers had to be treated for non-serious wounds after a peaceful protest quickly turned hostile as the sun fell on Saturday 3rd April.

Events were calm as MPs and activists spoke to hundreds of people in Parliament Square, until an altercation occurred between a protester and a passing lorry. According to a police officer on the scene, the protester had, ‘laid under the truck’. As police surrounded the vehicle and attempted to arrest him, scenes took a turn for the worse.

People began to crowd the lorry which is where clashes began. As police attempted to detain the individual, protesters say pepper spray was used, which also hit other demonstrators.

As tempers flared, police attempted to push the protesters back and out of the road. However, in doing so, they caused further anger.

Small scuffles between protesters and police occurred, as beer cans and picket signs were thrown in the direction of the police line.

As riot police turned up, crowds began to turn around and head for Trafalgar Square where further altercations took place. Protesters stood in the street as traffic came to a halt.

One protester blocking traffic simply stated that she ‘wouldn’t have the right to vote’ if not for the suffragette movement.

Soon, protesters made their way out of the area in fear of being trapped by police. As they made their way down The Strand, a couple of opportunists could be seen pulling down road work barriers, throwing traffic cones around and pushing bins into the streets.

That didn’t come without retaliation from other protesters, however. When one man started throwing stones at shop windows, demonstrators could be heard shouting in defiance, imploring him to, ‘put the stones down,’ as it isn’t ‘the businesses fault.’

However, the night ended as a minority of protesters were ‘kettled’ by a large number of police officers outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Here, crowds who hadn’t been caught in the police tactic, began to disperse.

Commander Ade Adelekan, who was in charge of the police’s efforts, commended the ‘vast majority of people’ who adhered to social distancing and complied with his officers. However, he said a small number of protesters ‘did not engage [with police] despite the repeated efforts of officers on the ground,’ which led to more extreme policing measures and arrests.

One lady was reportedly arrested on suspicion of carrying a weapon after a blade was found.

These clashes come days after numerous issues in Bristol surrounding other Kill the Bill protests. In one demonstration, a police van was set alight, and a police station was vandalised. A situation that Boris Johnson condemned as, ‘disgraceful.’

The events followed a largely peaceful day, however. Crowds began to gather at midday at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park, before marching on to Buckingham Palace and finally settling in Parliament Square.

Many large public speakers addressed the crowds in front of Gandhi's statue, including ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He branded the passing of the bill as, ‘a very dangerous and very slippery slope,’ before stating that, ‘silence would be consent to this piece of legislation.’

This demonstration took place in retaliation to a bill that was passed through the House of Commons earlier this year.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill reportedly gives police more control over static protests with powers such as setting start and finish times and imposing noise limits. These are powers police already have over marches.

Under the current COVID restrictions, protests are legal as long as they follow social distancing guidance. However, before the demonstration, the MET Police issued warnings over breaching certain rules.

They advised people to avoid attending any ‘large gatherings,’ and continued by saying that by attending rallies with groups larger than 6 people, demonstrators could be ‘as risk of committing an offense... under Health Protection Regulations 2021.’

A number of other protests in the country have taken place without issue over the weekend, including in Leeds, York and Sheffield. Events in which the organisers have branded, ‘days of action’ against this new piece of legislation.