Hundreds rally in England, Wales over police legislation

LONDON (AP) — Hundreds of people marched Saturday through central London and other cities across England and Wales to protest the British government’s plan to hand the police new powers to tackle demonstrations. Protesters walked past Buckingham Palace towards Parliament Square, just outside the Houses of Parliament. A ring of officers positioned themselves around the statue of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill in Parliament Square.

The statue had been defaced during anti-racism protests last year.

Protesters, including many who carried anti-sexism placards and chanted “Women scared everywhere, police and government do not care!” passed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office at 10 Downing Street. London’s Metropolitan Police said the majority of people “have tried to adhere to social distancing” but that a “small minority” had blocked the road at Parliament Square.

The protests were taking place over the long holiday weekend, including in the Welsh capital of Cardiff and in the northern England cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

The demonstrators were upset at the Conservative government’s bill which covers England and Wales, which if passed will enable police to ban or shut down protests.

Demonstrators hold banners and flags during a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest in London. PHOTO: AP