A pause on College Green during the Kill The Bill protest on Saturday, April 17th, gave demonstrators the opportunity to discuss their emerging movement’s relationship with the police.
The nine Kill The Bill protests that have now taken place in Bristol have brought together individuals and groups from a diversity of backgrounds in resistance against the government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Yesterday’s protest was the first time that protesters aired their different opinions directly and en masse on the issue of the relationship between the emerging Kill The Bill movement and the police.
In a series of testimonies, whereby protesters each took turns to address the crowd, some speakers called for empathy and dialogue with police while others took a harder line.
One speaker addressing police officers present at the demonstration, called on them to talk about the Bill amongst themselves: ‘ask yourselves, what does this mean? Ask your superiors, what does this mean?’
Against this view, two speakers later recounted stories of police mistreatment and misconduct they had experienced personally as examples of the impossibility of engaging positively with police.
The conversation was lively as it unfolded, with interruptions from the crowd and cheering and applause for speakers of different views.
Although no consensus was reached, the debate represents a moment of development for the Kill The Bill movement as protesters attempt to square their shared goal with the diverse backgrounds and motivations.
The opportunity for testimonies came after the protest, having processed through the city centre, paused on College Green, where a microphone and speaker were provided by a well-equipped member of the crowd.
The protesters later marched again through the city again before dispersing at around 20:00.
*Names have been changed.