Riot cops attacked a peaceful protest on College Green in the centre of Bristol on Tuesday evening. It came after police violence against protesters two days earlier.
Travellers and people who live in vans in Bristol had set up camp on Tuesday in protest at the Tories’ new police bill. People joined the protest to defend the rights of Travellers, Roma and Gypsies.
One woman told local journalist Adam Cantwell-Corn that she was there “to protest the anti-Trespass laws that are being proposed”.
“These laws are criminalising a nomadic lifestyle,” she said. “It means they can seize people’s homes. It makes it almost impossible to live a travelling lifestyle and criminalises the homeless.”
She said cops “crashed” onto her with riot shields while she was sitting down and that she told them she couldn’t breathe. “They didn’t listen,” she said. “They just carried on.”
Adam said that police threatened journalists trying to report on the protest. “Press card fully on show,” he tweeted. “Just got threatened with dogs and force by an officer despite telling him we are journalists.”
The cops bragged that they used “specialist police dog units, horses, the National Police Air Service and a police drone unit” to target protesters.
Police were filmed using dogs on protesters, shoving people with riot shields and punching people. Bristol Live reported, “One police officer was seen repeatedly punching one sitting protester before grabbing and yanking his hair, using his hair to pull him back through police lines.”
One protester said police were “abusing their power and being violent”. “People were angry because police were riling them up,” she added.
The police bill makes it almost impossible to live a travelling lifestyle
Over 200 cops destroyed the protest camp, ripping down banners and tents. Protesters sat on the grass chanting, “Peaceful protest.” Cops used riot shields to force them to move closer to each other, trapping them against the wall of Bristol Cathedral.
Cops on horses repeatedly charged protesters to force them away from the area.
Many people had left flowers to remember Sarah Everard, who was murdered earlier this month allegedly by a police officer. Cops walked over the memorial.
Protesters defied police attacks and remained on the streets into the early hours of Wednesday morning. Some laid a row of daffodils at the feet of a line of riot cops. Riot police charged over them.
The scenes give the lie to the claim that police have been faced with “violent” protesters. Yet that doesn’t stop the mainstream media continuing to peddle it.
The liberal Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday’s events with reams of words from cops complaining they feel “under siege”. It went on to quote several officers and cop representatives, including the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales.
Not one protester was quoted. Not one mention was made of the violence protesters faced.
The paper later published an article with the headline, “Police under fire for ‘assault’ of journalist at Bristol protest.”
It said a Daily Mirror journalist had shown video footage “that appeared to show police pushing him and hitting him with a baton”.
But the footage didn’t “appear” to show cops’ violence—it did show cops’ violence.
Meanwhile the Independent ran an editorial titled, “Individuals on both sides should be condemned for their actions in the Bristol riots.”
The Tory police bill is an attack on the right to protest. It will make life harder for Travellers and give the cops even more powers to harass vulnerable people.
It is fantastic that rage against the bill has exploded onto the streets. We should take no lectures from the Tories, the cops and their friends in the media on “violence”. Instead we should keep fighting to kill the bill.