Covid: Police in Bristol arrest 14 at anti-lockdown march

Covid: Police in Bristol arrest 14 at anti-lockdown march

Fourteen people have been arrested after anti-lockdown marchers defied police orders to cancel their protest.

Avon and Somerset Police had made clear they would take action if an event organised by Stand Up Bristol went ahead.

Despite the warning, about 200 people gathered on College Green before marching through the city centre.

Police said one of the arrests was for assaulting an officer.

After assembling on College Green at 12:00 GMT, the marchers, many of whom were chanting “freedom” and carrying placards bearing anti-lockdown messages, moved through Broadmead.

Protester Louise Hampton, who made headlines for suggesting the impact of Covid had been exaggerated, attended the march.

She said in a Facebook post: “People say what’s the point of these marches, but they bring people together.

“They raise peoples’ morale and keep them happy and united.

“People are suffering from depression and anxiety, they’re losing their businesses, they can’t visit their Grandmas.”

Chief Insp Mark Runacres said police had been in discussions with the protest organisers this week in an attempt to persuade them not to hold the event and he was “disappointed” it had gone ahead.

Bristol’s elected mayor Marvin Rees had also asked protesters not to march and instead “find other, safer ways” to get their point across.

Ch Insp Runacres said when it became clear there were large numbers gathering, the decision had been taken to let the march proceed to avoid “major disruption”.

“Our objective was then to identify and arrest those people involved in organising the march and we will be dealing with them now,” he said.

Mr Runacres also said CCTV footage and film from body cameras worn by police could lead to fines for people identified as having broken lockdown rules.

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