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Five-day protests in Bristol draw to a close

The five-day Extinction Rebellion protest that took place in Bristol city centre this week is coming to a close.

In reflection of the protest activities – both planned and unplanned – Bristol Chief Inspector Mark Runacres has the following message for the people of Avon and Somerset:

“This has been a very challenging five days for the city of Bristol.

“In the run-up to this week’s Extinction Rebellion protest and throughout the week, we’ve been working closely with our partner agencies to balance the rights to protest peacefully with the rights of people who live in, work in and visit Bristol.

“A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was drawn up with protestors outlining what activity was acceptable and what we would not tolerate. When this MOU was breached on Wednesday, a line was crossed and we took robust action. A total of 16 people were arrested and made their first appearance in court today.

“Maintaining public safety was our top priority and we were clear that in the event of crime or disorder, or any situation which significantly affected the economic or social wellbeing of the community, we would take action.

“Where there are protests involving a large number of people, it’s not feasible to make a large number of arrests due to the potential impact on our resources and response capability. We also have to ensure each arrest is lawful, justified, proportionate and necessary.

“We know the protestors’ actions have been frustrating to many people, but along with our partner agencies, we’ve all done our best to pre-warn the public of potential disruption, keep people informed of protest activity, keep people safe and keep the city moving.

“The protest has had a significant impact on our resources. We’ve called in mutual aid, cancelled officers’ rest days and extended overtime to deal with the demand we’ve been facing. This protest has come at a time when we were already resourcing large-scale community events and dealing with a major incident involving a fire at a hotel in Cribbs Causeway.

“I’d like to thank the wider public for working with us during what was a complex, dynamic and unprecedented protest for the city.”