By Thomas Wootton
On good Friday, protestors gathered peacefully in Millenium Square in Leeds as part of the ongoing national protests to KillTheBill.
The protests to KillTheBill are in response to the government introducing the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 which resulted in violent protests in Bristol.
The bill has received much media attention and criticism over proposed new powers being given to police with regards to future protests.
The new powers will allow police to Impose a start and finish time, set noise limits and apply these rules to a demonstration by just one person.
If passed, it will be a crime if protestors fail to follow restrictions they “ought” to have known about, even if they do not receive a direct order and could receive a fine of up to £2,500.
Speaking about the bill, Stephen Johnston one of the organisers said: ‘I think it is wrong for the government to hand more powers to the police and curtail our right to protest’.
‘Protesting is a necessary right given to all citizens in a democracy, it allows us to criticise and hold the government to account on their actions and policy.’
Ned Richards, a young protester said: ‘The recent actions and violence by the police at the Sarah Everard vigil and Bristol protests shows us the importance of protests and why the police shouldn’t be given more powers’
‘We live in a democracy not a fascist state, the government shouldn’t give more powers to the police to effectively be used to crush any dissent’.
The protest and march, from and back to Millennium Square via St George Street and the Headrow, was overseen by West Yorkshire police officers and community officers.
Chief Superintendent Kate Riley of West Yorkshire Police who commanded the policing operation, said: ‘West Yorkshire Police is continuing to work hard to keep the public safe during the ongoing threat from Coronavirus and we are pleased today’s demonstration and march has passed off without incident.
“Officers engaged with those present to ensure public safety.”
She added: “We are grateful that those attended the demonstration did so peacefully, with no disorder or incidents of note occurring.”
While there were no physical altercations, some police officers received verbal insults from a small number of protestors.
One police officer spoke of these verbal abuses: ‘People have a right to protest and we have a job in ensuring their safety’.
‘However this becomes a little difficult when myself and my fellow colleagues receive, albeit in limited and isolated incidents, verbal taunts and abuse’.
Leeds City Council was contacted for a statement and directed us to the above statement from the West Yorkshire Police.