Student at Bristol demo complains she was blinded by pepper spray
Student, 20, who was warned by police ‘if you don’t move, you’re going to get pepper sprayed’ at violent ‘Kill the Bill’ demo… moans she was left temporarily blinded after being blasted in face
- Cydanie Smith says she was sprayed in face by police when she refused to move
- The 20-year-old also claims the spray was fired from closer than the legal range
- Violent scenes erupted in Bristol as policemen were injured and vehicles ignited
- The ‘thuggery’ has been condemned by police and politicians across the board
- Police yesterday released photos of eight more wanted in connection with riot
A student has moaned about being pepper sprayed by police despite attending a violent ‘Kill the Bill’ protest in Bristol on Sunday.
Cydanie Smith claimed she was squirted in the face by officers when she refused to move from the pavement outside Bridewell Police Station.
The 20-year-old also alleges the chemical was fired from closer than the legal range – one-metre – but that has not been verified.
Violent scenes erupted in the city as policemen were injured and vehicles were set ablaze as thousands took to the streets over the past few days.
The ‘thuggery and disorder’ has been condemned by police and politicians across the board after the illegal gatherings.
Police yesterday released photos of eight more people wanted in connection with the riots – to add to the ten they are already hunting.
And riot officers faced down protesters again last night – including a naked one – as a police boss revealed the force feels ‘under siege’ amid rising tensions.
Cydanie Smith (pictured) claimed she was squirted in the face by officers when she refused to move from the pavement outside Bridewell Police Station
A vandalised police van explodes outside Bridewell Police Station, after protesters set it on fire on Sunday
A demonstrator gestures near a burning police vehicle as two other vans arrive at the scene to drive protesters away on Sunday
People watch a burning police vehicle during the protest, which has become violent with protesters attacking a police station on Sunday
Smith claimed she was left momentarily blind, in pain and says she has felt ill since being pepper sprayed.
University of West England student, who studies illustration, said having she inhaled the spray’s toxins which gave her ‘bad chest pains’.
She said: ‘It was one of the most painful things I’ve experienced. It’s like liquid chilli juice being sprayed into your eyes.
‘It’s like having chemicals fired on you and I inhaled a lot of it. The only thing going through my head was ”oh my god I’m never going to see again”.’
The protester said ‘this isn’t China or North Korea’ and added: ‘We should be allowed to stand up and say ”no we don’t want this”.’
What started as a non-violent demonstration on Sunday afternoon turned violent after hundreds of protesters descended on the New Bridewell police station.
Two police officers were injured, suffering broken ribs and an arm, and taken to hospital during violent skirmishes with masked thugs.
Smith claimed she was left momentarily blind, in pain and says she has felt ill since being pepper sprayed
University of West England student (left, her hand, and right), who studies illustration, said having she inhaled the spray’s toxins which gave her ‘bad chest pains’
A vandalised police van on fire outside Bridewell Police Station, as other police vehicles arrive on Sunday
Riot police, with police horses and police vehicles, move down Rupert Street in Bristol towards protesters on Sunday
Protester kicks a smashed Bridewell Police Station window as police officers inside barricade the way , in Bristol, Sunday
And police said yesterday they were investigating 40 assaults on their officers and on one member of the media.
Nine people have been arrested so far – but the police have warned this number will almost certainly rise.
Later, protesters attempted to smash the windows of the glass-fronted police station.
They also tried to set fire to one of the marked police vans parked outside the station but the small flames were quickly extinguished by riot officers.
Other protesters set fire to a police van parked on Bridewell Street, near to the police station.
Rioters smashed the windows of the police station and also destroyed Avon and Somerset Police vehicles parked nearby, setting fire to a car and a van.
Cars parked in a multi-storey car park adjacent to the police station were also damaged by protesters.
Avon and Somerset Police said its officers had missiles and fireworks thrown at them and used mounted officers and dogs to disperse the mob.
Protester smashes a Bridewell Police Station window as they take part in a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest in Bristol, demonstrating against the Government’s controversial Police and Crime Bill on Sunday
Police officers inside Bridewell Police Station recording protesters on the roof outside on Sunday
Police hold back people outside Bridewell Police Station as they take part in a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest in Bristol, Sunday
Protester denies carrying a SPEAR at Kill the Bill demonstration on Sunday
A protester has denied carrying a spear at Sunday’s Kill the Bill demonstration in Bristol.
Bradley Edmonds, of Ilchester Crescent, appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, charged with possessing an offensive weapon.
The 28-year-old had been arrested on Monday, the day after the Kill the Bill demonstration against the proposed Police and Crime Bill.
Edmonds pleaded not guilty to possession of a homemade spear with a sharpened edge. He was granted unconditional bail ahead of his next appearance at the same court on June 10.
Avon and Somerset police say they are now investigating assaults on 40 officers and one member of the media. One officer was initially reported to have a broken arm, but police have now confirmed no officers suffered broken bones.
A force spokesman said: ‘Two further people, a 20-year-old man and a man currently refusing to provide details, have been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and are in custody. This brings the total number of arrests so far to nine.
‘Since launching a dedicated form for members of the public to supply footage or give us information about those involved, we’ve had 210 submissions and a further 68 calls to our control room.’
Smith got to the protest early, arriving at College Green at 2.30pm with a friend. She had a placard that read: ‘It is a human right to protest.’
She followed the protest when it marched around the city centre and arrived outside Bridewell Police Station.
She said as the events descended, she found herself caught in the middle of a crowd shouting at police who were enforcing Covid restrictions and tackling rioters.
Smith and her friends sat on a pavement near the station but soon became engaged in a confrontation with riot police.
She said: ‘People were jumping on cars and doing horrible things that I don’t condone at all.
‘I tried to have a conversation with the police – then they were like: ”If you don’t move, you’re gunna get pepper sprayed”.’
‘I said ”why are you trying to threaten us? Your job is to protect us and now all of a sudden, your threatening us with pepper spray”.’
The student claimed: ‘One had ”medic” written across her shield – it was like a print. That is a picture of hypocrisy.’
Smith said she was sprayed in one of her eyes by an officer. She said she reached her arm out to shield her friends, but says they were bundled to the floor.
She said: ‘We were in a pile of four or five people completely on the ground – on the other side of us we had a police van trying to drive into us and you can’t move.’
Smith claims a can was emptied directly into her face, rendering her blind for 20 minutes and in pain.
She said: ‘The last thing I saw was a can come right in front of my eyes – it was sprayed all over my nose and my mouth.
‘I’m still experiencing issues; my chest has been extremely painful. Then someone luckily grabbed my arms and took me to the side where people had cartons of milk ready.
‘It was at least 20 minutes until I started seeing again, I was covered in milk – it was all over me.’
Protestor uses a skateboard to protect himself from a police officer’s baton in Bristol during a confrontation Sunday
Demonstrators throw objects from the top of Bridewell Police Station in Bristol which has been defaced during the protest on Sunday
Smith said she had not complained to police. But she claimed officers treated the protesters out of order, despite the vicious scenes the country watched in shock.
She said: ‘I looked up police documents and when you can use pepper spray – and you should only use it when someone is getting violent or aggressive – and you’re supposed to be a minimum metre away.
‘I need to get in touch with someone to try help because I don’t know how to go about it as I don’t really know how to make a complaint.
‘I feel they picked on people who seemed weaker – the people they were shoving with shields, the majority were young women like me who really are pretty defenceless against them.
‘They come in with weapons and people are going to feel intimidated.
‘The whole thing was completely peaceful and really a lovely experience until riot police came in and started intimidating people. That’s really when violence kicked off.
‘It is unfortunate that protests put people at risk – but we have to make a difficult decision. I have to stand up for my rights and for the many people around me.’
The mindless violence was condemned by the Home Secretary, police federation representatives and local leaders.
Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted on Sunday: ‘Unacceptable scenes in Bristol tonight.
‘Thuggery and disorder by a minority will never be tolerated. Our police officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect us all. My thoughts this evening are with those police officers injured.’
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said: ‘I have major concerns about the Bill myself, which is poorly thought out and could impose disproportionate controls on free expression and the right to peaceful protest.
A close up of protesters on the roof of Bridewell Police Station as police watch from inside on Sunday
Demonstrators graffiti a police shield during the Bristol protest against a new proposed policing bill on Sunday
Protestors attack a police van which is then set on fire as police clash with protesters outside Bridewell Police Station on Sunday
What legislation is behind the protests to Kill the Bill?
The Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill could see the police handed more powers to tackle demonstrations.
The wide-ranging proposals include laws to reform sentencing, the courts and handling offenders.
If passed, some of the measures will be UK-wide while others may only apply in England and Wales. They include:
– Whole life orders for premeditated murder of a child, allowing judges to also hand out the maximum sentence to 18 to 20-year-olds in exceptional cases, like for acts of terrorism leading to mass loss of life.
– The legislation looks to toughen up powers the police have to tackle ‘non-violent’ protests which are significantly disruptive to the public or on access to Parliament.
– The proposed law includes an offence of ‘intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance’.
According to the Bill, someone commits this crime if they cause ‘serious harm to the public’, which can include ‘serious annoyance, serious inconvenience or serious loss of amenity’. Those convicted could face a fine or jail.
Meanwhile, the Government is also seeking to increase the maximum penalty for criminal damage to a memorial from three months to 10 years, under the Bill.
The laws could also see police have more powers to crack down on unauthorised encampments which interfere with the ability to use the land.
Officers could also be allowed to stop and search people more if plans for serious violence reduction orders go ahead.
This would make it easier to carry out checks on those who have previously been convicted of carrying a knife.
‘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.
‘We have faced times of great confrontation particularly surrounding Black Lives Matter and the events that followed. We have had numerous protests.
‘Our police, city representatives and I have been able to point out with pride that we have faced these moments of conflict without the physical conflict that others have experienced.
‘Those who decided to turn the protest into a physical confrontation and smash our city have robbed us of this.’
Andy Roebuck, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Police Federation, said: ‘Disgusting scenes in Bristol by a mob of animals who are injuring police officers, members of the public and damaging property.
‘We have officers with suspected broken arms and ribs. This is so wrong.’
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give the police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests.
Those convicted under the act under the proposed legislation could face a fine or jail.
Police yesterday released photos of eight more people wanted in connection with the Sunday riots.
Avon and Somerset Police had appealed for help identifying ten people on Tuesday and the force shared more images of suspected rioters.
Nine people have been arrested as police continue to investigate assaults on 40 officers and a member of the media.
Avon and Somerset Police said two people, a 20-year-old man and a man refusing to provide details, were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and were in custody.
A second protest against the Bill took place in the city on Tuesday, resulting in 14 arrests.
Chief Superintendent Carolyn Belafonte said the investigation into Sunday’s riot could be one of the largest in the history of Avon and Somerset Police.
Police have released photos of eight more people wanted in connection with the ‘Kill the Bill’ riots in Bristol on Sunday
Avon and Somerset Police had appealed for help identifying ten people on Tuesday and now the force has shared more images of suspected rioters
Bristol saw 3,000 demonstrators protesting the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on Sunday
A total of nine people have so far been arrested as police continue to investigate assaults on 40 officers and a member of the media
‘The fact we’re investigating 40 assaults on officers and a member of the media as the result of one incident shows the scale of wanton disorder which took place that night,’ Chief Supt Belafonte said.
‘Through painstaking work to examine more than two terabytes worth of digital footage, we believe we’re making clear progress to identify those responsible and anticipate further images will be released soon to the online gallery we’ve set up.
‘One of the people we believe we’ve already identified is a suspect in the fire which destroyed a mobile community police station.
‘We’d like to thank every member of the public who’s got in touch to provide footage, information or to pass on their well-wishes and kind thoughts.’
The force has received 210 submissions after appealing for the public to supply footage or information about those involved, as well as 68 calls to the control room.
Two officers taken to hospital during the riot were found not to have suffered broken bones.
Six men arrested on suspicion of violent disorder were released under investigation, while a 28-year-old man appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court charged with possessing an offensive weapon.
On Tuesday, around 200 people gathered on College Green for a second night of protests.
Chief Superintendent Carolyn Belafonte said the investigation into Sunday’s riot could be one of the largest in the history of Avon and Somerset Police
The force is still looking to identify 17 people in connection with the unrest on Sunday night
On Tuesday, officers from Avon and Somerset Police first issued pictures of people they want to speak to in connection with the Bristol riots
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said it will be one of their biggest ever investigations
Police requested mutual aid from neighbouring forces to assist in dispersing the gathering after attempts to encourage people to leave were unsuccessful, a police spokesman said.
Public order officers from Avon and Somerset, British Transport Police, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Dyfed-Powys, Gloucestershire, Gwent and Wiltshire were deployed to move protesters on at 10pm.
Police dog units, horses, the police helicopter and a police drone unit were also involved in the operation.
Many protesters left the area but a ‘significant number’ gathered on Deanery Road and refused to disperse, Avon and Somerset Police said.
Fourteen arrests were made, with one of those detained also arrested for offences connected to Sunday’s protest.
Pictured: Two of the people Avon and Somerset Police wish to speak to in connection with the Bristol event
Police released pictures of people they would like to speak to in connection with Sunday’s events in Bristol
Officers from Avon and Somerset Police have issued pictures of people they want to speak to in connection with the Bristol riots
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