The rioters who set police vehicles alight and attacked officers were “serial demo attenders” intent on violence against anything they perceive as the establishment, the mayor of Bristol said.
Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees believes a number of the violent “Kill the Bill” protesters were from outside of the city, and added: “I don’t know what the proportions are, but I do suspect that a number were serial demo-attenders who are looking for any opportunity to engage in physical confrontation with representations of what they see as the establishment.”
Asked if he thought those hurling missiles at police officers were local, he said: “I highly suspect there were a number of people from outside the city. The exact proportion, I do not know.”
Twenty officers were injured in clashes on Sunday night, one of which with a suspected punctured lung having been stamped on by a rioter, a senior Avon and Somerset Police officer said.
Andy Marsh, chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, said Sunday’s protest had been “hijacked by extremists”.
“I believe the events of yesterday were hijacked by extremists, people who were determined to commit criminal damage, to generate very negative sentiment about policing and to assault our brave officers,” he said.
“Officers were very patient. From the initial gathering of around 2,000 to 3,000, which was more than we anticipated, there were about 50 officers engaging with those present and encouraging them to disperse. Many were complying in fairness.
“There was a hardcore of serious criminals hidden within those 3,000 people – perhaps 400 or 500 people – and we certainly didn’t trigger this.
“The officers were incredibly patient, incredibly professional and I pay tribute to them.”
Seven arrests as police vow to publish pictures of rioters
At least seven people have been arrested in connection with the violent scenes that marred a “Kill the Bill” protest in Bristol, which saw a police station attacked, officers injured and vehicles set alight.
The Avon and Somerset police and crime commissioner said “many more” would be arrested in the coming days as officers examined a large amount of CCTV footage from Sunday night’s riot.
The “mob” at the “Kill the Bill” protest in Bristol were “looking for a trigger to provoke a violent response,” according to the chief constable.
The group was “creating a scene” outside Bridewell police station, where initially about 50 police officers were present, he said.
Reports suggest demonstrators were able to get close enough to the riot shields held by police officers to graffiti them.
The officers who were at the scene on the night were making “incredibly difficult decisions,” according to Mr Marsh. Read the full statement below.