Covid: Police in Bristol make arrests at anti-lockdown march

Covid: Police in Bristol make arrests at anti-lockdown march

Arrests have been made 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 a number of arrests had been made, including one for assaulting an officer.

Commenting on Twitter, Avon and Somerset Police said the gathering was “unlawful and putting others at risk”.

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 monitored by a heavy police presence.

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.”

Ahead of the protest, Chief Insp Mark Runacres said that while he recognised the “important right” of freedom of expression, the police could not ignore an event which breached lockdown rules.

“Officers have spoken with Stand Up Bristol about Saturday’s protest and have made every effort to explain the situation, which makes it even more disappointing that they continue to press ahead with their plans,” he said.

Bristol’s elected mayor Marvin Rees had also asked the protest organisers to reconsider.

He said: “While lockdown is a difficult period for everyone, the guidance and rules are in place for a good reason, to continue to protect public health, and we would urge those considering protests to find other safer ways to make their voices heard.”

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