Thousands of Kill the Bill activists march through central London

Thousands of activists have descended on London as police brace for weekend of chaos with more rallies set to take place in towns and cities across the UK.

Protestors, including environmental protest group the Red Brigade – often seen at Extinction Rebellion demonstrations – have gathered at Hyde Park today chanting, banging drums and waving placards daubed with Kill The Bill slogans.

Close by, anti-lockdown demonstrators staged their own protest, supported by Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

And a separate group in Parliament Square were seen demonstrating with anti-sexism slogans, including ‘educate your sons’ and ‘misogyny is the virus’, before chanting ‘women scared everywhere, police and Government do not care’.

But the ‘national weekend of action’ has also spread beyond the capital to cities including Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester. 

In Norwich, Kill The Bill graffiti was daubed on a city centre war memorial during the lunchtime demonstration.

There have been a number of Kill The Bill protests held in recent weeks to show opposition to the Government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021, which would give police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance.  

Protesting is now legal in England following a change in Covid-19 lockdown rules which came into force on Monday, but organisers are required to submit risk assessments and ensure social distancing.

Thousands of Kill the Bill activists have descended on London as police brace for weekend of chaos with more rallies set to take place in towns and cities across the UK. Pictured: Protestors in Parliament Square

Thousands of Kill the Bill activists have descended on London as police brace for weekend of chaos with more rallies set to take place in towns and cities across the UK. Pictured: Protestors in Parliament Square

Thousands of Kill the Bill activists have descended on London as police brace for weekend of chaos with more rallies set to take place in towns and cities across the UK. Pictured: Protestors in Parliament Square

Protestors, including environmental protest group the Red Brigade - often seen at Extinction Rebellion demonstrations - have gathered at Hyde Park today (pictured)

Protestors, including environmental protest group the Red Brigade - often seen at Extinction Rebellion demonstrations - have gathered at Hyde Park today (pictured)

Protestors, including environmental protest group the Red Brigade – often seen at Extinction Rebellion demonstrations – have gathered at Hyde Park today (pictured)

A separate group in Parliament Square (pictured) were demonstrating with anti-sexism slogans, including 'educate your sons' and 'misogyny is the virus'

A separate group in Parliament Square (pictured) were demonstrating with anti-sexism slogans, including 'educate your sons' and 'misogyny is the virus'

A separate group in Parliament Square (pictured) were demonstrating with anti-sexism slogans, including ‘educate your sons’ and ‘misogyny is the virus’ 

But the 'national weekend of action' has also spread beyond the capital to cities including Newcastle, Liverpool (pictured) and Manchester

But the 'national weekend of action' has also spread beyond the capital to cities including Newcastle, Liverpool (pictured) and Manchester

But the ‘national weekend of action’ has also spread beyond the capital to cities including Newcastle, Liverpool (pictured) and Manchester

Protests and demonstrations were expected this weekend across England on what is forecast to be a is the first to benefit from the easing of ‘stay at home’ lockdown restrictions.  

On Saturday, activists, climate change campaigners, and the Black Lives Matter movement said they would join ‘kill the bill’ rallies in London and other towns and cities including Manchester, Leeds, Brighton and Bristol.

‘As protest is criminalised and our fake democracy is pushed further towards authoritarianism, we seek to find where we can come together with other movements to tackle the common causes that affect us all,’ said Alanna Byrne from environmental group Extinction Rebellion. 

Days of protests by the group paralysed parts of London in early 2019, action which helped fuel calls from some politicians for the police to be given the tougher powers to prevent excessive disruption.  

Another demonstrator, Mark Duncan, added: ‘The government are trying to curtail protests – especially BLM and XR – that is what this bill is all about. We want the clauses in this bill about protests quashed.’

Organisers reminded demonstrators to stay socially distanced on this ‘national weekend of action’ as they attempted to control the crowds. 

Organisers reminded demonstrators to stay socially distanced on this 'national weekend of action' as they attempted to control the crowds. Pictured: Protestors in Reading

Organisers reminded demonstrators to stay socially distanced on this 'national weekend of action' as they attempted to control the crowds. Pictured: Protestors in Reading

Organisers reminded demonstrators to stay socially distanced on this ‘national weekend of action’ as they attempted to control the crowds. Pictured: Protestors in Reading

Protests and demonstrations were expected across England this weekend on what is forecast to be a is the first to benefit from the easing of 'stay at home' lockdown restrictions. Pictured: Protestors in London

Protests and demonstrations were expected across England this weekend on what is forecast to be a is the first to benefit from the easing of 'stay at home' lockdown restrictions. Pictured: Protestors in London

Protests and demonstrations were expected across England this weekend on what is forecast to be a is the first to benefit from the easing of ‘stay at home’ lockdown restrictions. Pictured: Protestors in London

There have been a number of 'Kill The Bill' protests held to show opposition to the Government's proposed Police, Crime , Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021. Pictured: Crowds in central London today

There have been a number of 'Kill The Bill' protests held to show opposition to the Government's proposed Police, Crime , Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021. Pictured: Crowds in central London today

There have been a number of ‘Kill The Bill’ protests held to show opposition to the Government’s proposed Police, Crime , Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021. Pictured: Crowds in central London today 

The group that gathered in Parliament Square (pictured), London, chanted 'women scared everywhere, police and Government do not care'

The group that gathered in Parliament Square (pictured), London, chanted 'women scared everywhere, police and Government do not care'

The group that gathered in Parliament Square (pictured), London, chanted ‘women scared everywhere, police and Government do not care’

On Saturday, activists, climate change campaigners, and the Black Lives Matter movement said they would join 'kill the bill' rallies in London (pictured)

On Saturday, activists, climate change campaigners, and the Black Lives Matter movement said they would join 'kill the bill' rallies in London (pictured)

On Saturday, activists, climate change campaigners, and the Black Lives Matter movement said they would join ‘kill the bill’ rallies in London (pictured)

But the ‘national weekend of action’ spread beyond the capital to cities including Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester.

Several hundred people gathered beneath Grey’s Monument in Newcastle for a similar Kill the Bill protest with a low-key response from Northumbria Police.

Protesters cheered as a singer with a guitar performed in opposition to the proposed bill as another attendee held up a placard saying: ‘We will not be silenced.’ 

The crowd has since made its way through the city centre chanting: ‘Whose streets, our streets’ and ‘F*** Priti Patel’.

At the Civic Centre many took the knee and held a minute’s silence for victims of oppression after which a round of applause broke out. 

Earlier today several hundred people gathered beneath Grey's Monument in Newcastle (pictured) for a similar Kill the Bill protest

Earlier today several hundred people gathered beneath Grey's Monument in Newcastle (pictured) for a similar Kill the Bill protest

Earlier today several hundred people gathered beneath Grey’s Monument in Newcastle (pictured) for a similar Kill the Bill protest

There was a low-key response to the city centre gathering from Northumbria Police and protesters cheered as a singer with a guitar performed in opposition to the proposed bill

There was a low-key response to the city centre gathering from Northumbria Police and protesters cheered as a singer with a guitar performed in opposition to the proposed bill

There was a low-key response to the city centre gathering from Northumbria Police and protesters cheered as a singer with a guitar performed in opposition to the proposed bill

The crowd (pictured) has since made its way through Newcastle city centre chanting: 'Whose streets, our streets' and 'F*** Priti Patel'

The crowd (pictured) has since made its way through Newcastle city centre chanting: 'Whose streets, our streets' and 'F*** Priti Patel'

The crowd (pictured) has since made its way through Newcastle city centre chanting: ‘Whose streets, our streets’ and ‘F*** Priti Patel’

Meanwhile, more than 400 Kill The Bill protesters today marched through Manchester city centre.

They halted traffic as they walked from St Peter’s Square where they had held an hour-long rally as they shouted: ‘All cops are b*******’ and ‘Our streets’.

The only hint of trouble was when one teenage protester jumped on and banged on a blue McLaren sports car.

He was held by police but later let go.

They were watched by police in Tactical Aid vehicles as well as officers on foot and spotters.

The protesters then gathered on the steps of Manchester Crown Court and chanted: ‘No justice – no peace’.

They waved Socialist Worker Party ‘Kill the Bill’, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Trans Rights Now’ placards.

The protestors included animal rights, environmental and LGBT campaigners as a hand of police in uniform looked on.

Police riot vans were parked in streets surrounding the square in case the protest turned violent.

But there was no trouble at the two-hour protest.

Nurse Matthew Hampson, 53, had earlier told the crowd: ‘Nurses are not just angry about the proposed one per cent pay cut, they are enraged.

‘We need to protest, that is why we need to stop this Bill.’

There were a few children as well as a bulldog with a ‘Security’ black coat on at the protests. 

The rally took place under a 48-hour police dispersal order for the entire city centre.

The order gives police the power to tell a person engaged in anti-social behaviour, or who is likely to engage in anti-social behaviour, to leave a specified area.

It expired at 3pm.

It was imposed following an illegal rave in the city centre as well as 18 people being arrested at last week’s Kill the Bill protest in Manchester.

Protesters had sat on tram tracks and police had to apologise after one woman’s underwear was exposed when she was dragged away.

The protests have been sparked by the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill would toughen measures officers can take to disperse demonstrations, such as imposing time and noise limits, which campaigners and activists fear would be used to curb dissent.

Since the bill was brought before parliament last month, there have been sporadic protests, notably in Bristol, southwest England, where demonstrations turned violent with officers and a police station bombarded with bricks and glass bottles, and police vehicles set on fire.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticised what he described as ‘disgraceful attacks’ on officers, but protesters have accused police of using heavy-handed tactics.   

Demonstrations had not been permitted while a coronavirus lockdown was in place, but restrictions were eased this week, meaning organised rallies can go ahead providing they are ‘COVID secure’.

In London, police warned, ‘enforcement action will be taken, if needed, in the interests of public health’.

Some senior officers have said the ‘kill the bill’ tag was deliberately provocative as ‘the bill’ is a nickname in Britain for the police. 

Can protests take place in England under Covid rules?

Britons are permitted to gather in groups larger than six for the purpose of ‘Covid-secure protests’ under updated lockdown rules.

The guidance had previously outlawed any large gatherings, meaning the previous three Bristol rallies weren’t permitted under Covid restrictions.

However, an update which came into force on Monday allows people to gather in larger groups for protest if the organiser has ‘taken the required precautions’.

This includes completing a risk assessment for the gathering. 

The updated guidance reads: ‘You may gather in larger groups… for the purpose of Covid-secure protests or picketing where the organiser has taken the required precautions, including the completion of a risk assessment.’ 

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