This account was written by a comrade from the Bristol Anarchist Federation and published on the Anarchist Federation website
“Never seen anything like it. We were charged at down the street by multiple charging horses and police with dogs. Continuous beatings from the cops, extreme violence. They were literally punching peaceful people who were sitting down, with shields and trampling them. Spoke to someone who saw a woman on the floor get her jacket ripped off her and her hair pulled while coppers laughed and shoved her, they told her to run away while laughing.” – Protester
Yesterday around 150 people gathered on College Green to protest the Trespass elements of the the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. When the cops came in they acted exactly as the politicians and press insisted they should; no fighting back, no criminal damage, calm and passive. It did nothing to curtail hours of vicious police violence.
The Bill has many terrible elements, one of the worst is the attempt to effectively criminalise Gypsy, Roma, and Travellers. People in these groups already face widespread discrimination, violence, and attacks on their way of life from the government. The new criminalisation of trespass will also target other van dwellers, rough sleepers, squatters, ramblers, protest camps and more. It was a mixture of these groups and supporters of them who took to College Green, tents in hand, to voice their opposition and support the movement to #KillTheBill.
College Green has hosted numerous overnight protest camps before, focusing on homelessness, housing issues, and inequality. Its owners, Bristol Cathedral, have usually been happy to host them, provided they clean up after themselves. For the first five hours this camp felt like many of those before it. It was relaxed, and despite the clear political messages it had a ‘festival vibe’. Police were present throughout this time, with police liaisons giving people the ‘ok’ to be there. In contrast to Sunday evening they seemed to be hanging back and being ‘hands off’, however this wouldn’t last.
Reports began circulating at around 7.30pm that police were building up numbers in near by areas, and they just didn’t seem to stop. Ten vans, then fifteen, then twenty, then we lost count. The van markings showed they were drafted in from at least four police forces, each van has a capacity of 12 officers, so for the number of people sat on the Green this was overkill to say the least. At 10.30pm, supported by mounted units, dogs, a drone and a helicopter, the vans pulled up the protest and endless lines of police in riot gear surrounded the protest camp blocking off side streets.
As the riot police moved in people were mostly sat on the ground, or still in their tents. Many had there arms raised chanting ‘peaceful protest’. These chants were either ignored, or seen as a sign of a vulnerable target as the police stormed in. They lashed out bashing peoples heads with their batons and shields, punching out, letting dogs bite at protesters limbs, and making repeated dangerous cavalry charges. They trashed everything and everyone they came into contact with, tearing up banners, smashing tents, and even trampling through the memorial to Sarah Everard and other murdered women.
You can read the rest of this report here