Around 400 people took part in the Stand Up Bristol demonstration which under current coronavirus restrictions was prohibited.
Police had warned organisers multiple times the event wasn’t allowed and of the risks it presented of increasing the spread of COVID-19.
Thirteen people were arrested throughout the day which saw police deploy a range of resources including specially trained public order teams, the mounted unit, the dog section and the police drone.
Four men and one woman have since been charged with offences including participating in a gathering of more than two people and failing to comply with the directions of officers. They are due to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on 7 January.
Four men have been released on conditional bail, three men have been released under investigation to allow further enquiries to take place while another man has been detained under the Mental Health Act.
As part of our continuing investigation, officers are reviewing a large amount of digital evidence including CCTV, body worn camera footage and other recordings of the event.
Avon and Somerset PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “I was disappointed that Stand Up Bristol decided to protest on Saturday, despite advice from the police and Bristol City Council. I understand the important role that protests have in our society. However, the demonstration took place during a devastating global health pandemic and in a city where cases continue to increase at a worrying rate.
“Quite frankly, when I saw the footage of over 400 people gathered in the city centre with no regard for social distancing, I was beyond angry. So many have made changes to their everyday lives with the aim of protecting others while a small minority, who clearly do not fear for their own health, put both local people and our officers at risk. The protestors’ behaviour was disgraceful when people across the country have made so many sacrifices.
“I am supportive of Avon and Somerset Police’s actions and I want to say thank you to the officers and staff who dealt with Saturday’s demonstration; they displayed bravery and commitment in what was a frustrating and tense situation, and I know they will continue to do so as we navigate our way through the coronavirus restrictions.”
Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “I am proud of the way that my officers responded to this protest. In the face of violence and intimidation they conducted themselves with restraint, courage and professionalism. They are the best of us.
“These protestors are nothing short of disgrace, from the criminally misguided to the plain stupid. Whilst the majority of our communities do their best to support each other through the COVID-19 pandemic, and our NHS and other essential workers make sacrifices to keep our society and save lives, these selfish idiots are an embarrassment to Bristol.”