A large anti-lockdown protest was underway in Bristol City Centre

Arrests were made, including Piers Corbyn

An anti-lockdown protest took place in Bristol City Centre today.

400 protesters started on College Green in front of City Hall in the pouring rain this morning, with a huge police presence already at the scene.

The crowds marched through Cabot Circus and back to the city centre, with one person on a megaphone chanting “The media is the virus. The government is the virus”. Protesters toured Bristol twice, before the protests started fizzling out around 3pm.

Piers Corbyn, the brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was arrested after giving a speech.

Avon and Somerset Police have confirmed that 14 people were arrested, saying: “A number of people were identified as leading the protest throughout the day and were subsequently arrested.”

“The majority of arrests were for breaches of the Coronavirus regulations, with one man also arrested after an officer was assaulted.”

The Bristol Tab’s correspondent at the scene noted many families took part, and a little girl holding a sign which said “I want to hug my nanny”. After the first march, however, there were much fewer families in attendance.

The protesters were also heard shouting “we are free people” and “freedom”. They were also distributing flyers which question government coronavirus figures and the necessity of the current testing process.

A flyer from the protest

On arrival back on College Green, Piers Corbyn gave a long speech against the lockdown, and he said that Covid was a hoax. The theme was “No to the new world order”, with protesters cheering as Corbyn railed against the restrictions.

Corbyn declared to the crowd “We are anti-vaxxers. Vaccines are killing us”.

Police charged into the rally to arrest Corbyn, and there was fighting between police and public as the arrest was made. Protesters chanted “shame on you, shame on you” as the police arrested Corbyn, with a least one other person arrested for attacking officers.

A spokesperson from Avon and Somerset Police said that they couldn’t confirm the status of Piers Corbyn, saying: “Given the profile of today’s event we will release the names of anyone charged proactively.”

Chief Inspector Mark Runacres said: “We warned the organisers repeatedly of the consequences should they press ahead with their plans, both in terms of the enforcement action we would take and the risk it presented in spreading COVID-19, but sadly they chose to ignore these.”

The crowds were large, with no one wearing a mask nor social distancing. They are completely against the use of face masks, saying they are another way to limit freedom.

The protesters continued up to the Clifton Triangle before diverting down to Cabot Circus and then returned to Broad Key in the City Centre.

A protester shouted: “It’s a 99% survival rate. Most people survive – there is no pandemic! Wake up!”

“They built the Nightgale hospitals, but no one is f*cking in them! Freedom!”

“We don’t want austerity. We don’t want poverty”.

One prominent sign read: “Stand up and take your freedom back.”

Protesters then remained on Broad Key for a little while, with a speaker playing music. The protesters were dancing and singing, and the police retreated and let the much smaller crowd continue.

The protesters gradually started to disperse around 3pm, although a group of around 30 headed towards Cabot Circus, with some remaining on Broad Key.

The wet and windy weather likely smothered the turnout today. It was a sizeable crowd, but it didn’t compare to the Black Lives Matter protests that took place in the summer. That said, this is the first significant anti-lockdown protest that Bristol has seen, and there will likely be more before the expected easing of restrictions on December 2nd.

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