Kill the Bill Leeds: Hundreds march through city centre in protest against Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
Hundreds of protesters marched through Leeds on Good Friday in a demonstration against a new policing powers bill.
The 'Kill the Bill' rally took place in Millennium Square at 1pm.
Campaigners were protesting against the proposed Police Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which could give police extra powers to crack down on peaceful protests.
If the bill is approved, officers could be able to impose start and finish times, set noise limits and apply the new rules to demonstrations of one person.
Around 400 people gathered to listen to speakers outside Leeds Civic Hall, including Marvina Newton from Black Lives Matter Leeds, Jayne Aitchison of the Leeds Trades Union Council and the Leeds Disabled People’s Organisation.
Protesters, wearing masks, then marched through the streets of Leeds city centre as they shouted 'Kill the Bill' and 'this is what democracy looks like'.
It was one of several rallies organised across the country, with other demonstrations in London, Manchester and Southampton on Friday.
The protest remained peaceful and West Yorkshire Police thanked those who attended for wearing masks and cooperating with officers.
One protester Amanda, who did not wish to disclose her surname, said it was "too important" an issue for her to miss the rally.
The 46-year-old from Leeds, who works in climate change, added: “I’m here because I believe in the right to democratic protest. It’s one of our workers' rights, our women's rights.
"You don't get anything without protest, it's an essential part of our democracy and this Bill is draconian. It's really damaging and takes away a lot of our civil liberties.
"These laws and regulations could take away our right to assemble. It's part of our democracy to be able to challenge those in power.
"This is too important for me not to come out and make a stand."
The protest was organised by several organisations in Leeds who read out speeches, poems and spoken word.
The president of the Leeds Trades Union Council, Jayne Aitchison, brought up some of the biggest protests that have happened in Leeds' history.
She told the crowd: “We have a proud history of demonstrating and organising protests in Leeds.
"They are trying to ban protests because they know protests work. But it works for the many, and not for the few.”
A member of the Leeds Disabled People’s Organisation read out a statement on behalf of the group.
She said: "Disabled people stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other marginalised groups in the fight for social justice.
"We will not be silenced, together we are strong. And we can kill this bill.”
Police officers patrolled the protest and led the group as they marched from and back to Millennium Square via St George Street and the Headrow.
Chief Superintendent Kate Riley, who led the operation, said: "West Yorkshire Police is continuing to work hard to keep the public safe during the ongoing threat from Coronavirus and we are pleased today’s demonstration and march has passed off without incident.
“Officers engaged with those present to ensure public safety.
“We are grateful that those who attended the demonstration did so peacefully, with no disorder or incidents of note occurring.”
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