Document:Did POLICE turn Bristol ‘Kill the Bill’ protest into a riot?
Attack: this image from the Bristol Post was captioned “Bridewell police station under siege” but the only violence I see is by a policeman attacking a woman with a truncheon and a stick. What do you see?
It takes only one comment like this to reverse the narrative completely – and here it is, in two tweets:
1/2 From a Bristolian:
Protesters were being peaceful, people were sat in front of police station, as in literally sat.
Police pushed people, kicked people on floor. People pushed back. Police in riot gear batonned people in head, sent in attack dogs & horses, people kicked off.
2/2 Every step of the way police escalated. Every step of way they knew that is what they were doing, but were just perhaps bit surprised at how many of the crowd were willing to go from a sit down protest to fighting back rather than allowing police to attack them with impunity.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees may find himself on the receiving end of some very sharp reactions after he supported the police without waiting for the other side of the story!
- “Smashing buildings in our city centre, vandalising vehicles, attacking our police will do nothing to lessen the likelihood of the Bill going through. On the contrary, the lawlessness on show will be used as evidence and promote the need for the Bill.
- “This is a shameful day in an incredible year for Bristol.
- “We have had numerous protests. Our police, city representatives and I have been able to point out with pride that we have faced these moments of conflict without the physical conflict that others have experienced. Those who decided to turn today’s protest into a physical confrontation and smash our city have robbed us of this.”
What will he have to say if it turns out to be true that the police are “those who decided to turn [the] protest into a physical confrontation and smash [the] city”?
Considering the way the police in London treated a peaceful vigil on Clapham Common; or the way a drunken policeman assaulted a woman on her way home from work and walked free from court after admitting it; or the fact that a policeman is accused of kidnapping and murdering another woman who was on her way home from work…
The Battle of Orgreave, during the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5, was reported as happening because picketers attacked the police when in fact it was the police who attacked the picketers; reporters edited their footage to create a false story.)
Considering all of the above, it seems far more likely that the police were responsible for the violence in Bristol last night, rather than a few hundred people who were, at the time, sitting down.
If those people defended themselves, this is no reason to condemn them or their protest for descending into violence. Everybody has the right to defend themselves against unprovoked violent attack, no matter whether the attacker is in a uniform or not.
If Bristol’s police were ordered to turn this event into a riot so their political leaders could use it as justification for the draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that will permit them to inflict brutal oppression on innocent people, then the plan appears to have backfired.
The peaceful protest was mostly over by the time they came out from the Bridewell. From a high point of around 3,000 people, their own figures say only around 500 were left when the violence began.
The others, having made their point, had gone home. No matter who started the violence, they have been smeared by the police claims.
And observers elsewhere have demonstrated that they are unimpressed by the protestations of the police and politicians – pointing out the future of protest under the Police Bill:
Let's be clear the mob you should fear isn't the one on the streets of Bristol but running the government. (John Smith)
The Tory bill means peaceful protesters face 10 years in jail.
Yet centrists say people are wrong to get angry about it.
It just beggars belief.
Protest quietly and be ignored by government.
Protest noisily and spend up to 10 years in prison.
You can be ignored.
Or you can be ignored.
- We cannot restrict civil liberties and remove the right to protest without fallouts
- The creeping authoritarianism of the state has repercussions
- Attempts to silence women grieving has consequences
Wherever there is people there is power
Let's be real, nothing would be happening in Bristol were it not for police attacking the vigil for Sarah Everard last weekend, or the government trying to push through a bill which restricts civil liberties.
At the end of the day, there is a big question to be answered – and it’s one that would not even be considered if the police had not made themselves the puppets of Conservative governments many times in the past:
Quote Tweet Priti Patel @pritipatel Mar 21 "Unacceptable scenes in Bristol tonight.
"Thuggery and disorder by a minority will never be tolerated.
"Our police officers put themselves in harms way to protect us all.
"My thoughts this evening are with those police officers injured." (Carole Hawkins)
- "1/2 Protesters were being peaceful"
- "2/2 Every step of the way police escalated"
- "Kill the Bill Bristol protest: More arrests expected"
- "Remember Orgreave and how that was reported"
- "Let's be clear the mob you should fear isn't the one on the streets of Bristol but running the government"
- "The Tory bill means peaceful protesters face 10 years in jail"
- "Protest quietly and be ignored by government"
- "Wherever there is people there is power"
- "You don't keep the peace by clamping down on peaceful protest"
- "A few agents provocateur to make the gullible public panic & demand the bill goes through?"
- "Or did you organise this in advance in order for the police bill to get through the house?"