Protests in southwest England against increased police powers turned violent Sunday, leaving several officers hurt, authorities said.
“Horrendous scenes in Bristol,” said John Apter, head of the police federation of England and Wales.
“Number of officers badly injured, police vehicles damaged and a police station under attack. This is not protest, it’s just mindless violence,” he tweeted.
Two police vehicles were set on fire, damage was caused to a police station, one officer suffered a broken arm and another suffered broken ribs, Avon and Somerset police said.
The clashes erupted after a rally against the new “Police and Crime Bill” — drawn up by the government to grant the police greater powers to crack down on disruptive protests — when hundreds of protesters converged on a local police station.
Interior minister Priti Patel condemned the clashes as “unacceptable”.
“Thuggery and disorder by a minority will never be tolerated,” she tweeted.
A local MP from the opposition Labour Party, Darren Jones, described the scenes as “completely unacceptable. You don’t campaign for the right to peaceful protest by setting police vans on fire or graffitiing buildings.
“Avon and Somerset Police were on duty today to facilitate a peaceful protest not to deal with criminal behavior,” he said.
Mass gatherings are currently banned in England under coronavirus restrictions.
On Saturday, an anti-lockdown rally in London that drew thousands of protesters also left several police officers hurt and saw at least 36 people arrested.