The police and crime commissioner (PCC) has explained why officers clamped down on Stand Up Bristol’s lockdown protest.
Four men and one woman have since been charged with offences including participating in a gathering of more than two people and failing to comply with the directions of officers.
Avon and Somerset PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “I know some local people were confused by the police’s enforcement response to this particular protest as many are not aware of the legal position on holding demonstrations in the second lockdown.
“Unlike in the summer, protests – no matter what the cause – are no longer exempt under the current coronavirus regulations.
“As a result, what took place last weekend was neither legal, nor was it peaceful. Officers faced abuse and violence, which regardless of how people feel about their cause, is not acceptable
“I completely understand that to many the lockdown measures – including stopping protests – feel extreme and draconian.
“It feels uncomfortable for us all, but it really is necessary to enforce these restrictions for a short time to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed and stop unnecessary deaths of vulnerable people in our communities.”
Ms Mountstevens says she is having “countless conversations” with health officials who have told her cases in hospitals are increasing.
“However, with discussions of successful vaccines hopefully being rolled out early next year, please remember there is light at the end of the tunnel,” she added.
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“We have to see the bigger picture and continue to work together to get through this tough time.”
Officers arrested 13 people in the Stand Up Bristol demonstration. The police presence included public order teams, a mounted horse unit, dog section and drone.
Four men have been released on conditional bail, three men have been released under investigation, and another man has been detained under the Mental Health Act.