Hundreds clash with police outside Parliament in London (VIDEO)
Hundreds of people gathered outside Westminster Palace late on Wednesday to protest against the bill granting sweeping powers to the UK police. The rally quickly spiraled into clashes between protesters and police officers.
The protesters came to Parliament Square in Westminster as the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill was debated in the House of Lords. The controversial draft legislation would expand police powers to restrict and control all public protests, while reinforcing the punishment for causing a public disturbance.
The demonstrators that arrived at the square were seen carrying banners and placards that read: “Kill the Bill” and “No more police powers.” Some of them were beating drums while others were wearing orange prison uniforms with black hoods over their heads. The protesters were also heard chanting slogans like “who do you protect?” and “who do you serve?”
Photos from tonight’s #KillTheBill protest. #PCSCBill#RightToProtest @XRWorthing We’re in a #ClimateCrisis and if our rights to protest are taken away even more people are going to suffer and die. Photos by Clare. pic.twitter.com/nintKuiuCv— WorthingCAN 🌍 (@WorthingCan) December 8, 2021
Some protesters were apparently also expressing their discontent with the new Covid-19 restrictions announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier on Wednesday, while others criticized government climate policy.
A lot of energy down at the Kill the Bill protest in London tonight. We won’t be silenced! Join us in Norwich, 1pm, Saturday outside City Hall for more of the same.#KillTheBill#FreedomToProtest#PCSCBillpic.twitter.com/I0lXf9YXuA— XRNorwich (@NorwichXr) December 8, 2021
Tensions were running high at the square as the situation quickly turned violent. Videos published on social media showed protesters scuffling with police as the officers sought to push the densely packed crowd away. Traffic was also briefly brought to a standstill near the Whitehall and Westminster Bridges. Police have yet to comment on these events. It is not clear if anyone was arrested following the incident.
Protesters scuffle with police in #ParliamentSquare during the third reading of the #PCSCBill. If passed it may restrict people's ability to protest by giving ministers power to shut down ones they don't agree with. #KillTheBill#LondonProtest#PoliceBill#Protestpic.twitter.com/nHZ2vqEAaP— Eleventh Hour (@EleventhHourPh1) December 9, 2021
The controversial bill was passed by the House of Commons in July. The draft legislation has been a constant source of public discontent as protest rallies were repeatedly held in London and other British cities to denounce it.