MORE than 100 people gathered in Parliament Street as part of a national ‘day of action’ co-ordinated by Sisters Uncut to protest at the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Singing protest songs, and carrying placards saying ‘Kill the Bill: No more police powers’ and ‘Right to demo’, they marched through the city centre at 1pm on Saturday and past York Minster.

“This bill represents a fundamental attack on our human right to protest and to hold our government to account,” said one protester.

“The events of the past few weeks, from the police brutality displayed at the peaceful vigil for Sarah Everard in Clapham to the extreme violence against demonstrators in Bristol, is a clear indicator of the direction that the policing of peaceful protest is heading if this Bill is to pass.”

Another protester added: “This legislation will expand the police's arbitrary powers. The language of the bill … gives the police the power to shut down any protest, even that by a single individual, and hand out massive fines and prison sentences. We believe this is antithetical to a functioning democracy.”

There was a low-key police presence at the York event. One protester said it had been limited to police having a quiet word with protesters before the march.

The York march was one of several in towns and cities across England in which thousands of people demonstrated against a crime bill they fear will limit their right to protest by imposingconditions on non-violent protests - including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance. Those convicted will be liable to fines or jail terms.

Apart from York, Kill the Bill protests were held in in London, Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool, Dorset and Dorset plus Avon and Somerset.

In London, thousands of people marched from Hyde Park to Westminster.

Protesters walked past Buckingham Palace and down to Parliament Square, opposite the Houses of Parliament.

There was an increased police presence around Whitehall and Downing Street, with a ring of officers around the statue of Sir Winston Churchill.

Once large numbers of demonstrators arrived at Parliament Square, many sat down on the green.

By Saturday evening, the Metropolitan Police said that "a small minority" of protestors, who were not social distancing, were still in London's Parliament Square.
Arrests were made after they turned down requests to leave, police said.
The Metropolitan Police later said that ten officers had been injured, "none of these are believed to be serious", and that 26 people had been arrested for a variety of offences including assault on police and breach of the peace.

In Newcastle, meanwhile, there was a low-key response from Northumbria Police as hundreds of people gathered beneath Grey's Monument in Newcastle.

Protesters, including one who held up a placard saying 'we will not be silenced', cheered as a singer with a guitar performed in opposition to the proposed bill.

Demonstrators who marched from the monument through Newcastle city centre chanted: "Whose streets, our streets."

Many took the knee at the Civic Centre and held a minute's silence for victims of oppression.