Police pay damages to ‘Kill the Bill’ protesters

IssueFebruary - March 2023
News by David Polden

On 16 December, three more people were jailed in connection with the ‘Kill the Bill’ clashes in Bristol in early 2021, bringing the total in prison to 26.

Earlier, on 18 November, it was reported that Avon & Somerset police had paid undisclosed damages to five people who say they were assaulted by the police during the ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration in Bristol on 23 March 2021.

The incidents took place on College Green after a day of peaceful protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, partly because of its threat to the way of life of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

One of the five, Flora Sidebottom, 23, a youth worker, told the Guardian: ‘The day unfolded peacefully. There were songs and people were doing circus skills.... It was gentle and intimate.’ Then, about 10pm, the protesters were surrounded by police in body armour and carrying shields and batons. ‘We sat down and shouted “peaceful protest”. But they started battering everybody.’

The police did not admit liability, claiming their actions were lawful under the then current COVID-19 restrictions.

One of the protesters claimed an officer struck him in the face with a shield, leaving scars; another that she struggled to breathe when she was crushed beneath two police shields. The defendants also claimed they saw another protester being dragged along by his hair by an officer.

Topics: Police