COP suffered a collapsed lung after being stamped on by thugs during last night’s “Kill the Bill” protest riot in Bristol.
Twenty police officers were injured as a “mob of animals” left cops with broken arms and ribs, set fire to police vans and hurled fireworks during violent clashes.
Thousands of protesters joined the “Kill the Bill” march last night over plans to give cops more powers to tackle non-violent marches.
The mob shouted “Shame on you” as at least two police vehicles were set on fire, while others were smashed up, daubed with graffiti and had their tyres let down.
Yobs armed with baseball bats also smashed glass panels of Bristol’s Bridewell police station while officers in riot gear and on horseback attempted to disperse the baying crowd.
Avon and Somerset Police Chief Constable Andy Marsh today confirmed twenty officers had been injured in the carnage – with one suffering a collapsed lung after being stamped on.
Other cops suffered broken bones while twelve police cars were also damaged during the riot, he added.
‘HIJACKED BY EXTREMISTS’
Chief Constable Marsh said the protest had been “hijacked by extremists”, and between 400 and 500 “hardcore” thugs had been intent on causing criminal damage.
Protesters wore masks and carried placards that read: “Say no to UK police state”, “Freedom to protest is fundamental to democracy” and “Kill the Bill”.
Avon and Somerset Police today confirmed seven people had been arrested in connection with the violent scenes – six for violent disorder and one for possession of an offensive weapon.
Chief Constable Marsh said “many more” would be arrested in the coming days as officers examined a large amount of CCTV footage from the riot.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give forces in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non- violent protests, including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance, with fines or jail for those convicted.
Mass gatherings are currently banned because of the pandemic – but thousands turned up last night despite officers strongly advising against doing so.
Chief Constable Marsh said the numbers at the demonstration “very quickly” rose to as many as 3,000 people – while a group of 400 or 500 “were intent on violence, damage and criminality”.
He told Sky News a number of the rioters “came for a fight with the police”, adding: “It wasn’t people frustrated with the lack of ability to protest.
“This was people intent on causing serious disorder, violence and damage, people with a grudge against the police.”
Mr Marsh said there was no “prior intelligence” that any disorder was planned “on this scale”.
But he pledged to launch a “huge police investigation” in which the Force would be “gathering evidence from CCTV, body-worn video, social media content and images or video sent in by the public”.
Home Secretary Priti Patel took to Twitter to slam the protest, saying: “Unacceptable scenes in Bristol. Thuggery and disorder by a minority will never be tolerated.
“Our police officers put themselves in harms way to protect us all.
“My thoughts this evening are with those police officers injured.”
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said: “Smashing buildings in our city centre, vandalising vehicles, attacking our police will do nothing to lessen the likelihood of the Bill going through.
“On the contrary, the lawlessness on show will be used as evidence and promote the need for the Bill.
“This is a shameful day in an incredible year for Bristol.”
Andy Roebuck, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Police Federation, said last night: “Disgusting scenes in Bristol by a mob of animals who are injuring police officers, members of the public and damaging property.
“Avon and Somerset Police Federation are attending stations to support officers.
“We have officers with suspected broken arms and ribs.
“This is so wrong.”
Chief Superintendent Will White, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “What started out as a peaceful protest has been turned by a small minority into a violent disorder.
“These scenes are absolutely disgraceful and they will be widely condemned by people across the city.
“There can never be any excuse for wanton disorder.
Officers have been subjected to considerable levels of abuse and violence.
“One suffered a broken arm and another suffered broken ribs. Both have been taken to hospital.
“These are men and women out there with the intention of serving and protecting the public – they should never be subjected to assaults or abuse in this way.
“At least two police vehicles have been set on fire and damage has been caused to the outside of the station.
“All those involved in this criminal behaviour will be identified and brought to justice. There will be significant consequences for behaviour such as this.”
Pictures showed graffiti being sprayed on an Avon and Somerset Police vehicle and it being rocked side to side by protesters.
And windows of Bridewell police station were smashed by protesters covering their faces.
A police spokesman said: “Officers are continuing to deal with a smaller number of protestors in Bridewell St.
“They’ve had projectiles thrown at them, including a firework, & have been verbally abused.
“This is unacceptable behaviour and those responsible for offences will be identified & brought to justice.”
John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Horrendous scenes in Bristol.
“Number of officers badly injured, police vehicles damaged and a police station under attack.
“This is not protest, it’s just mindless violence.
“Thoughts are with my colleagues.”
Many were wearing face masks and carried placards, saying: “Say no to UK police state” and “Freedom to protest is fundamental to democracy” and “Kill the Bill”.
It comes as anger continues to grow over the Met Police’s heavy-handed response to a vigil for Sarah Everard in Clapham, south London at the weekend.
Avon and Somerset Police had urged people not to attend the demonstration, warning that enforcement action could be taken.