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Hundreds rally in UK against proposed policing bill

Hundreds rally in UK against proposed policing bill
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Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets across Britain on Saturday in the latest of an ongoing wave of “kill the bill” protests against a proposed policing measure that would give officers greater authority in responding to demonstrations. 

Reuters reported that the climate change group Extinction Rebellion and the Black Lives Matter movement joined other activists for a “national weekend of action” against the bill. 

Video and photos shared on social media showed crowds of masked demonstrators walking through the streets of cities such as Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Brighton. 

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Some protesters held signs with statements such as “protest is a right,” “end police violence” and “democracy is broken.”

The controversial legislation, known as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, would allow officers to impose additional measures to disperse large protests, including issuing time and noise limits, according to Reuters.

Opponents of the bill argue it will only help authorities further quell dissent and free speech throughout the country. 

Mark Duncan, one of the more than 500 protesters who gathered in central London on Saturday, told Reuters, “The government are trying to curtail protests - especially [Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion] - that is what this bill is all about.”

“We want the clauses in this bill about protests quashed,” he added.

Meanwhile, some senior police officials have claimed that the “kill the bill” label used for these protests could provoke violence, as “the bill” is widely considered a nickname for British police. 

While demonstrations are now allowed in the country following the easing of some coronavirus restrictions, police in London warned Saturday that “enforcement action will be taken, if needed, in the interests of public health,” Reuters reported.

Saturday’s demonstrations come just a week after violence erupted at protests against the policing bill, which resulted in 10 arrests.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the time slammed what he called “disgraceful” attacks against police during the protests, with officers telling Reuters that people hurled various objects at them, including glass bottles, eggs and bricks.

“Last night saw disgraceful attacks against police officers in Bristol. Our officers should not have to face having bricks, bottles and fireworks being thrown at them by a mob intent on violence and causing damage to property,” Johnson wrote in a tweet.

“The police and the city have my full support,” he added at the time.