I long overdue report from last years anti-police repression demo on 13/12
I stood in the crisp December air surrounded by 40 or so friends, comrades, and strangers.We pulled our hoods on tighter, gripping black flags and paraffin torches, their flames fluttering in the wind. High up the harsh brick walls of the police station the blinds twitched as some nervous officer or inspector stole a glance at the crowd.
Sounds like the start of a bad novel (or the latest piece from crime thinc), instead it was the situation Bristol Anarchist Federation and those that had responded to our call for a demo against police repression found ourselves in. Continue reading
Around 10pm on Thursday 21st April, people from Stokes Croft and St Pauls in Bristol, reacting to blatant provocation, started attacking riot police gathered from three different forces with glass bottles. What ensued was seven hours of constant clashes; police charges, volleys of glass, brick and concrete, burning barricades and the trashing of a much-loathed Tesco recently forced on a community who for so long battled to stop it opening.
Just before 9pm, police had forcibly removed a small protest from outside the Tesco, which had been there since the store opened a week earlier and set up a cordon closing that stretch of the road. Their stated aim was to enter the squatted ‘Telepathic Heights’, an iconic, graffiti covered building opposite Tesco. They claimed to be acting on intelligence that suggested some occupants where planning to make petrol bombs with which to attack Tesco. Even if this intelligence was accurate, the numbers of police was far disproportionate to the half a dozen occupants of the squat.
The blocking of road by the police and the news that Telepathic Heights was threatened and that the Tesco protest had been forcibly broken up meant it wasn’t long before a substantial crowd had gathered. The crowd became more and more angry as police refused to give justification for their presence, pushing or hitting anyone who got close to their lines. The increased tension of recent months, which has built up as austerity measures begin to kick in and the community of Stokes Croft and St Pauls feel ever more ignored and marginalised, had found a focal point and personification in the belligerence of the police. All it took was for someone to tip over a glass recycling bin.
On Saturday October 23rd Bristol’s Castle park was awash with colour as over 1000 protesters (the organisers say 4000) marched through Bristol city centre to voice their anger at the governments cuts to services and welfare and their attack on the working classes.
Trade unions were represented including PCS, Unison, CWU, GMB and NUT along with a more radical side from The IWW, Anarchist Federation, Class War, Bristol Resistance and the Solidarity Federation along with many other groups and individuals.
Despite the weather the crowd were in good spirits and fine voice the IWW had printed out song sheets and a contingent from Youth Fight for jobs kept the chants coming think and fast.
We hear that the Police had been warning the organisers “Bristol & District Anti-cuts Alliance” that Anarchist were planning to infiltrate the march. What the police did not know is that the organisers were aware anarchists would be attending and on the whole were cool with it, saying it was not their job to say who can attend and what they can do.
There were a large number of cops around for an un-policed march and as soon as we left the park the police attempted to snatch a banner saying “Fuck The Cuts, Smash The State”. Their attempt failed as marchers ploughed in to save their banner and protect their comrades taking the pigs by surprise. Ten minutes later, their egos bruised, the cops had another go at snatching the banner, this time more violently causing some injuries to protesters.
At the Rally point of College Green we relaxed to listen to the speeches but then came the final show down. Some comrades were approached by Police as they went to collect the Anarchist Federation banner, they tried to take their details and video them. One was told to take his mask off under section 60, another was told he had to give his details under section 50 because he was suspected on anti-social behavior (aka holding a banner saying fuck on it – which he never did). The anarchist contingent and other marchers came along to give their support, the cops panicked and sent in mounted police, pushing and shoving ensued and two token arrests were made. Many of the “moderate” protesters split from the rally and joined the melee. Severely outnumbered and with their lines broken the cops were forced back out of the park and past the cathedral. Arguments broke out as other marchers told us to go back to the rally and let the police do their jobs. Afterwards one woman told a friend of mine who had not attended the demo “It was a good rally but the anarchists were there causing trouble”.
After this the demo split up, Around 20 or so people headed up to the police station to show their solidarity with those arrested by singing songs, playing cards, tag and the guitar, eating hobnobs and partaking in a strange Spartacusesque moment, all of which was noted down by the officers sent to mind us and video us. Regarding one of the games we were playing on cop was heard saying to other “it appears to be some sort of modern version of Buckaroo”.
Both were released on police bail after five hours in custody for afray and obstructing police. The local rag reported that cannabis was found on one of the arrestees, this was a complete fabrication on the part of the media.
As the cuts take hold demos like this will become more common and more angry. The violent attacks from the Police also show what we can expect as things turn increasingly nasty.
Apart from a few individuals (on both sides of the political divide) on the whole the day’s events proved that Socialists, Trade unionists and Anarchists can get along and work together.
So in Brum we got kettled for two hours and in Bristol we saw off Police incursions and forced em out of the park, we reckon that’s one point each!