An on-the-fly account of the Tescos riots by a bemused and concerned resident caught in the crossfire

Update 28/04/2011:The Stokes Croft Street Party

Yesterday was the Stokes croft “street party” – a protest against the police violence of the previous week (and against Tescos?). These two issues have now it seems been effectively bound at the hip. I didn’t promote this event before because I figured it was pretty foolish timing and a fairly provocative act itself. I headed out to take a peak at something like 11PM though. The vibe was split, there were a lot of people having a very good time, but clearly a handful of idiots who were looking for a ruck with the police. The previous night the police had shut down a “film showing and public debate” in Mina Park of the riot of the previous week, which clearly provoked a lot of people. Anti-rave legislation was used to confiscate the group’s (who organise regular local al fresco cinema showings without complaint) screen and when the showing was moved on to private property the police used anti-rave legislation again to prevent people getting in and even issue arrest threats for attempting to find another way. The film (viewable below) documented how the police and Tescos security had illegally confiscated placards from protestors in the afternoon prior to the “police riot” of the previous week. By yesterday morning most people had calmed down again from the previous week but this police action which seemed categorically aimed at silencing debate clearly heated the mood once again.

Below is the video taken from near where I was standing at the so-called “peaceful protest party”, everything behind me was 100% peaceful – that much I can say for sure. I’m still not sure what happened ahead of me, it sounded like a indefensible-yes but relatively isolated incident of bottle throwing. The police then charged through the handful of bottle throwers all the way in to the main section of the “party” which seemed to be a disproportionate and inflammatory response that if anything I was surprised didn’t elicit a harsher retaliation from the “party-goers”.


Slightly further past us the horses gained pace and charged full pelt in to where the “peaceful protest party” was taking place..

After that I decided to go home seeing as the “party” had been well and truly busted, but the police had placed roadblocks at each exit and weren’t letting people through. The situation got progressively more hostile until things kicked off on the side of the estates behind “The Croft”. At that point the police lines fragmented as a load of them ran to provide backup and we were able to slip through and get home.

Edit: This morning we were awoken by the police raiding “Telapathic Heights” (again) with 22 riot vans and a helicopter. This is the single action the police have taken here in the last 2 weeks that I’ve even vaguely seen any logic behind, from a tactical point of view that is. We watched the rooftop seige that lasted about an hour from someone streaming it on “ustream”… (Royal Wedding, what Royal Wedding?). It actually seemed to be a vaguely well conducted operation from the grainy footage we saw. It’s sad that what was until the police intervention the previous week a symbol of diversity, freedom and independence has been turned in to an epicentre of violence in the area. I’ve stood outside that house at the bus stop almost every day this year and never once felt threatened. At the same time, at this point you can see the police justification for taking action, however I just can’t help thinking that it wouldn’t have been a problem if they hadn’t made it one in the first place.

I don’t believe we live in a police state just yet but the events of the past week really does suggest some proper checks and balances are needed on the powers of the police as well as a complete change in strategy of the handling of situations like these.

I’m frankly disgusted that such a peaceful and artistic area and it’s laissez faire attitudes and politics have been hijacked by violent thugs. A change like that doesn’t come naturally. I’d really appreciate it if the chiefs of police would consider for a second that the orders they gave over the past week were what enabled that situation. (Perhaps instead of issuing increasingly Orwellian press releases.)

Rant over. Back to life as normal. Hopefully. (Please!)

Update 28/04/2011:The video the police didn’t want you to see…

BBC: Bristol Tesco protest film screening stopped by police

Last night police confiscated the video equipment of the film makers who were preparing to play the video account of the riot to an audience in Mina Park. Numerous police vans, dogs and a helicopter were used to block the roads. Rave legislation was used to prevent passage through surrounding streets. Eventuntually the video was played in someone’s house but the police placed roadblocks outside and stopped latecomers from entering.

The video itself is an accurate yet somewhat incomplete account. No mention of the police driving the crowd all the way down Ashley road and in to St. Pauls which in my opinion was what really instigated the riot. Apparently this is just the preview though so hopefully the final copy will include that.
Update 25/04/2011:

It seems the revolution will not be televised..
Riot Cinema 1024x723 The Battle of #StokesCroft


Update 15:45 24/04/2011
There’s been a lot of misguided debate on the cause of the “protest”. This was a riot, not a protest, it wasn’t planned and it definitely wasn’t orchestrated by the anti-tesco movement. It was the reaction of an angered and confused community to what appeared at the time to be a police assault on the neighbourhood. What I’m doing here is just trying to present the perspective of someone living here without getting in to the politics of it. This isn’t to justify the actions of the rioters but just to help people understand why this happened so hopfully we can avoid it happening again.

Below is some new footage from Picton street. This was shortly after the first round of violence errupted not long after 10PM. The police charged violently in to a street full of bystanders in reaction to a violent onslaught by a small group throwing bottles. The reaction of my neighbours made me proud. When the police entered Picton street and pushed everyone that was stepping outside to see what was going on to the end of the street everyone calmly sat on the floor and began singing peace songs. The police clearly got a call for backup from their colleagues who had continued to charge down Ashley road (for a good 7-800 metres). What happened next was fantastic, the police calmly walked backwards out of the street. As the police began to retreat someone hung a boombox out of the window and played “Beat it” by Michael Jackson. The crowd joined in and serenaded them out. Serenaded isn’t the right word but you get the gist.

The point is that this event woke up an entire street who took it upon themselves to dance and sing until the police left. The police eventually stopped at the top of the street and still refused to let anyone through or give out any information so out of curiosity people made their own way round. Yes, there was great pre-existing anger about Tescos but it was sheer curiosity and frustration at the police who really didn’t appear to be “serving” the people in any way, shape or form that brought people out on to the streets. The pre-existing anger at being ignored with regard to Tesco wasn’t just the cherry on the cake, but it certainly wasn’t what initiated the riot. From where I was standing at least. There were a few thugs who were just out for a fight and the odd anarchist stirring trouble but most were just bystanders roped in by the absolute bungling of what now sounds like a misinformed police sting.

I’m glad the photo below made the papers because it sums up the mood ever since..

Telepathic Heights The Battle of #StokesCroft

The police are now saying there was a petrol bomb found in the house. The fact that they didn’t suggest there was a criminal investigation on Thursday and following the riot described what they found as a #potentialpetrolbomb means that they are so discredited round here that I’m not sure exactly what they will have to do to get anyone to believe them.

Update 4:55AM 23/04/2011

Can’t sleep. Rolling news coverage was pitifully inaccurate. Half looking forward to popping over to Galiford Stores when dawn breaks to buy a copy of every newspaper. Galliford stores is featured in message to Tesco from local shopkeepers below. Just a shout-out for galiford stores: It is an amazing shop on Picton street (directly behind Tescos) that many don’t even know exists. They sell fresh locally sourced groceries, a range of world foods, wonderful 22 inch naan-breads the likes of which I’ve never seen elsewhere in Bristol (great for making lamb wraps) and they are always happy to take my parcels when I’m out. None of which would be possible if they were put out of business by Tesco.

This is their message to Tescos:

NB: The people featured in the protest videos are NOT the same people that participated in the riot. The riot was a completely spontaneous event consisting of a random wild crowd fuelled by panic caused by a completely bungled police sting operation that ignited what’s been a simmering tension in the area.

More NEW crowd-sourced footage:

Update 4:51PM 22/04/2011

Dear News Networks,

I am aware you are reading my blog, I have been contacted for comment by the BBC, the Guardian and SKY news. My formal comment is below in bold. When you cover last nights riots that completely surrounded my home tonight please balance your report with the circumstances. Below is footage from the peaceful protest that has continued for over 2 years and included formal complaints to the council from THOUSANDS OF RESIDENTS DURING EVERY STAGE OF PLANNING APPLICATION.

Please note the following facts in your reporting:

  • There was no evidence of violence before the police arrived.
  • Tesco was NOT petrol bombed as Sky news and The independent are now reporting.
  • It is extremely unlikely that the police claim that petrol bombs were found is true. The protesters were liberal pacifists (prior to the police onslaught) as evidenced by the links provided and in 4 hours of sustained full scale rioting in which the police were forced out of the area NO petrol bombs were thrown.

Update 4:21PM: HQ crowd-sourced video from last night:

Update 1PM 22/04/2011:
Independent Bloggers: Yes, you may use this material. Please link back.
Sky News: No you may not use ANY of my material. Your coverage is too twisted and I’ve been burned by you before.
BBC/Guardian: No interviews, sorry. Just not got the time right now.

If any news sources need a quote you may only use the following BOLD quote unedited and in it’s entirety:

I was dismayed by the council and police reaction to a sustained peaceful protest that has existed against Tesco for over two years. Until this week Stokes Croft was the last remaining major high street in the West of England inhabited exclusively by independent establishments. Tesco moved in despite universal local disapproval in an area already surrounded by dozens of Tesco stores. Despite the palpable disquiet protests have been entirely peaceful. This was not a volatile situation until police moved in to the area in full riot dress with no explanation for kettleing stokes croft except “health and safety” and “something to do with Tescos”. As police entered “Telepathic Heights” rumour spread that more raids on houses were intended. As this was not an unlikely story due to recent dawn raids on protesters houses and confiscation of computers and books over the last (xmas) exam period the community barricaded the remaining entrances to stokes croft and the police responded by charging the barricades, apparently for no other reason than for a fight. This action alone provoked violence from the famously diverse, educated, peaceful, loving and pacifist community of Stokes Croft. END QUOTE

Here is a higher quality photoset by Jonathan Taphouse (copyright photos reproduced with permission, please contact him for permissions):


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Not my vids (taken after the police abandoned the area):

Original rush post (5AM 22/04/2011):

WOW. I’ll update this in the morning, I have just returned from a week abroad to pure and utter carnage on my doorstep. Please excuse all the errors in this – it’s been about 20 hours since I slept. (I have deadlines next week, this has been literally the most ridiculous unplanned night of my life.)

Since I got back to Bristol this evening I’ve been stuck between various police roadblocks and witnessed running battles between police and mostly random people woken in the middle of the night by the sound of police sirens and choppers. When I arrived the police would only tell me that I could not enter stokes croft (where I live) for my “health and safety” and that it was to do with Tesco. Asking around there were various different explanations. Most people said that the police were raiding protesters houses throughout stokes croft. We could see across the police line approximately 10 riot vans and a riot squad entering the famous “Telepathic heights”. A house, like a lot in the area painted from head to toe in murals. One mural on the side of the block reads “No Tesco in Stokes Croft” in huge letters. Stokes croft is known in Bristol as the cultural quarters and spansonly a few thousand square feet of concentrated cultural activity not dissimilar to Camden in central London.

At something like 10PM a huge crowd landed on the front of stokes croft drawn by the lowflying helicopter with spotlight and the army of police emerging from 12+ riot vans dressed for combat. Pretty soon tension peaked as no explanation would be given for the roadblocks and there was intimidation on both sides.

I was on the junction of stokes croft high street when the police charged what was only at that point a croud (of about 100 but which quickly grew) down Ashley road pretty much all the way to the end of it over the course of a couple of hours. Due to the absolute confusion a number of people had emerged from their houses only to shortly find they were the wrong side of a road block and got roped in to what became a three hour running battle through pretty much all of the back streets coming off Ashley road croft and in to St Pauls, numerous burning barracades were errected and a huge amount of people were battered and bloodied by police for attempting to approach police lines to get home and find friends. By this point there was devastation everywhere. All junctions were blocked by overturned glass bottle dumpsters and makeshift neighbourhood roadblocks.

Eventually what seemed like the entire residence of stokes croft (and St. Pauls) emerged and pushed the police back on to stokes croft high street. For a long time there was a deadlock, people stood around and shared rumours about the reason behind the army of police that had arrived unnanounced and were terrorising the neighbourhood.

There was total confusion and stokes croft (street) was mostly cordoned off, the police started making arrests and then all hell broke loose. Missiles began coming down from edit: youths who’d climbed on to the buildings surrounding the Metropolis (Jesters) Telepathic heights, the location of the starting point of the problem and police brought out dogs to clear people from the street, quite a few got bitten. Meanwhile a lot of police vans had their tyres let out. At that point the dogs retreated and the convoy of about 10 vans that were surrounded drove at speed through the crowd clipping a large number of people on their way out. Both Tesco and telepathic heights were abandoned by the police.

At this point I decided to go home since now the police had retreated all hell was being unleashed on Tescos and hundreds of pieces of police riot gear were being handed out from the abandoned vehicles, since then the police returned and there’s been more running battles and people flooding down my street.

Return to Neurobonkers.com The Battle of #StokesCroft
 
  • http://www.jeremytoombs.com jeremy toombs

    Good Friday Riot–Stokes Croft

    Rosy’s dancing in the street
    playing saxaphone
    Summertime
    and the streets are burning
    coppers are standing
    shoulder to shoulder in line
    well the tesco is burning
    but this world keeps on turning
    so hush now people, there’s no sleep tonight

    Fire’s burning turning the night sky
    blacker with smoke
    helicopter searchlight
    shinin’ through
    What are people gonna do?
    heartbeats jacked
    bottles smacked against concrete

    Stolks Croft folks still movin’ their feet

    shoutin’ out:

    Our streets
    Our streets
    Our streets

    bangin’ on plastic bins
    the feelin’s movin’ in
    to my bones
    police line’s advance
    the mob runnin’ in retreat
    What’s the chance this is over anytime soon?

    I wish the searchlights were the moon.
    I wish the police were trees.
    I wish people throwin’ bottles would turn to peace.

    It’s your town you’ve lit on fire.
    Do you see they’ve conspired for this to be?

    Let us sing out:

    Om namo narayana
    Om namo narayana
    Om namo narayana

    These fires can’t be put out;
    They’ll burn through the summer,
    the stench of plastic
    thick.

    These things stick: glass breaking
    fire burning
    K-9 dogs
    cops advancing
    people hiding their faces

    But the arts house, this place: safe.
    And a haven.
    I wonder where Rosy’s gone.

  • steve conway

    WELL DONE CROFTERS!!

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  • bristolianish

    I noticed one photograph where the police reflective jacket clearly reads HEDDLU ie Welsh for Police. Can we assume then that some of these riot squad goons have been imported from the ‘Principality’ to crack Bristolian heads?

    • Anonymous

      in a riot situation, on maundy thursday… one of the biggest drinking nights on the calendar, more police would have to have been drafted in to cope.

    • Witness

      The police raided the squat with 160 riot police waiting to go, a reasonable portion of these had come up from Wales. This was for accusations of petrol bombs in a squat, which did not contain any. They blocked off large sections of the roads, in an area where police aren’t popular, had an intimidating and intrusively large number of police who were geared up for this to happen. They provoked exactly what happened, they just weren’t ready for it.

      • http://memoryhoooooooooole boombastic

        the friendly (welsh) copper i spoke to on the night said they’d been booked 4 weeks in advance

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  • Steve Nicholls

    This is crazy – St Paul’s continues to live up to it’s reputation as a troubled place. Even though years pass between incidents…this is generally where it all kicks off in the end.

    I notice from the pics that they had to bus Police in from Wales to keep control.

    Madness.

  • http://strangelyperfect.tv/ Evelyn

    Apparently the police were told some/all/who knows people in the house they raided were planning to petrol bomb Tesco’s. Nothing (directly anyway) to do with eviction at all.

    The house in council owned under a compulsory purchase order some years ago and neglected (its a listed building the council have a legal obligation to maintain it), eviction takes months through the civil courts.

    From the videos looks like a lot of excessive police brutality, much like we’ve seen with student’s and anti-cuts protesters in recent months.

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  • Jane Taylor

    Although it’s always very upsetting to hear that people have been hurt or that violence has raged…sometimes the cause is too great not to have to go to that place. This is about community and choice and taking care of small shop owners in the area. These people have tried to go through all the correct channels to stop something that they all feel is bad for their community and for society at large (supermarkets monopolising all food provision and sales everywhere in the western world) and the law has let them down. So I’m not really suprised that they have no faith or respect for the law.

    I lived directly opposite this Tesco’s site a few years ago and I would have HATED to have had a Tesco store there. It is not what that area is about. It’s about independent shopping, a community of people that know each other and know their shop owners. Saj’s shop, around the corner has been there for years and years and this Tesco local will take valuable business away from him and his lovely family. He is not going to be able to compete with a shop that is backed by a multinational company. It’s unfair odds and no one that works in the Tesco’s local will care as much about their shoppers as Saj.

    Stokes Croft has evolved into a place that has long ago abandoned the ‘commmercial’ and generic idea of how we all might live, shop and communicate. Stokes Croft is covered in street art and houses a lot of musicians and artists. Artists that have regenerated old delapidated buildings and transformed them into useful and inspiring centres of activity, hope and creativity. It’s not like any other part of the city.

    It’s also the gateway to the wonderful Gloucester Rd, one of the very last streets in the city where you can buy your meat, veg, cheese and bread etc from independent specialists shops (all but for the sainsbury’s local and the chain of Co-ops! All of which are despised by those championing the independence of the street).

    This riot is about saying NO! No to not being allowed to chose how we live in our own streets or how we shop. These are passionate creative people who want to hold on to their identities and TESCO is not part of that identity!!!

    • http://twitter.com/buddaboy budda

      I don’t get what all the fuss is about with a new Tesco in an area. if the “community” is so amazing and all about the “independent shopping” then simply carry on the way you are – don’t go to Tesco.

      Much more intelligent than acting like childish louts on the street chucking things around.

      • Slaine

        / budda: Well said sir

      • iB

        Well said.

      • http://neurobonkers.com Neurobonkers

        The reason I’m not providing an editorial on this is because I’m not a campaigner, this is normally a science/comedy blog and I got caught in the crossfire where I live.

        As a resident I can say I only have to walk 30 seconds to find a convenience store (Picton Street) which sells an enormous range of fruits and vegetables and world foods that are organic and impossible to find at Tesco.

        Tesco are able to undercut these stores by selling factory farmed product at a loss (i.e. below what the make it for) so they can overcharge on other product and the cycle goes round. The products which are sold at a loss are local stores’ bread and butter.

        Once the monopoly is established these stores slowly stop being able to compete with things like milk, bread and juice and soon go out of business.

        Once that happens there is no hope of getting back the quality we have right now and the monopoly can charge what it likes.

        For more info:

        http://notesco.wordpress.com/
        http://www.boycotttesco.com/

      • Kester

        Talk to Gus the local Green party Councillor about how blatantly corrupt the Council process of approving the Tescos was- they didn’t get the answer they wanted from the first Planning Authority committee, so they sacked them and brought in another batch selected to be ‘sympathetic’ to Tescos. They had something like 450 to 50 letters from local residents saying they didn’t want it, and ignored all their constituents and gave permission anyway. The process by which the Council gave permission against such massive local opposition was really scandalously un-democratic.

        Gus was also involved in a better alternative practical proposal to make it a ‘People’s Supermarkets’, appropriate ‘radical’ branding for the area, but basically meaning just a traditional covered market with affordable stalls for local food growers and suppliers, managed by a mutual trading Coop, as they still have many in continental Europe and used to be here for hundreds of years successfully.

        It’s 5-10mins up the road to the next Tescos anyway, anyone who preferred Tescos over a municipal or Coop-managed covered market with all sorts of food etc. in one place (so just as convenient as a supermarket, but with far more real positive competition) could still have done as they wished.

        The big four supermarkets have almost a total monopoly between them and they basically do price fixing overall with a few loss leaders to give a false impression of competition -e.g. look at the price per weight of prepared salads, about as expensive as prime steak! The big supermarkets set their prices to consumers and to suppliers according to ‘how much can we get away with screwing everybody?’ not according to ‘cost + a reasonable margin’.

  • http://danbri.org/ Dan Brickley

    Dude, invest in a tripod!

    • http://twitter.com/buddaboy budda

      A new camera or better phone camera would be handy for photos.

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  • nat

    thanks for this, it’s nice to have an alternative source of information to institutional mouthpieces http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-13167041

  • Craig

    Fantastic – the working class are not to be fucked with.

    I’ll do what I can to support.

    • Anonymous

      “Working”

  • http://lazaroumonkeyterror.wordpress.com/ Laz

    So the people of Stokescroft have a sweet little “Haight-Ashbury” thing going on here, want to live differently from everyone else and not have a Tescos………and the riot squad is sent in?!

    Having been at a few protests in London ( I was last seen holding a sign saying “Careful Now” during the Trafalgar Square kettling) I no longer trust our media reporting of these sorts of incidents. I call bullshit at talk of “petrol bomb equipment” and am convinced the country has gone insane when supermarkets are forced onto communities with riot police.

    Resist!

    • Kester

      ‘Petrol bomb equipment’ was probably some empty cider bottles and a box of matches next to the hob, knowing the usual standards of honesty from the police in such situations. (e.g. the blatant lies to cover up at first after Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson).

  • shiv malik

    Please do get in contact regarding last night. It’s for the guardian, and we’d love to find out what happened.

    Shivmalik@hotmail.com

  • Ben

    Please can you explain these inconsistencies with the argument against the Tesco. I’m not pro Tesco, but having lived in Stokes Croft for the last 20 years I feel well placed to have a balanced view on it’s community, what it is like to live here, and what residents want.

    1. If 93% of people in Stokes Croft don’t want the Tescos, what is the problem? Just let it open and it will close with market forces. Or is the problem that people will actually use it, meaning thee 93% figure is a lie?

    2. What about the Tesco’s that opened last year exactly 190 meters up the road on the corner of Dighton St? No one seemed to bother about that, why not?

    3. What about the Sainsburys that opened 6 months ago 400 meters up the road on the corner of Zetland road. No one seemed to bother about that, why not?

    4. Please name the independent shops that will be affected by the Tesco. Again, why not allow market forces to work?

    5. “Until this week Stokes Croft was the last remaining major high street in the West of England inhabited exclusively by independent establishments.” Kwik Fit? Linden Homes? Metropolis? Lick’n Chicken? Please don’t make sweeping incorrect statements.

    6. Why doesn’t someone open a shop that rivals Tesco? That would be a better way to combat this and a far better use of all the empty spaces.

    • GC

      Finaly some-one talking sence.I too live in stokes croft and have been doing so for the last 15 years.
      in that time I have watched numerous shops opening and closing I have supported local businesses which have offered decent services and still do. however there a very few places selling fresh groceries on the croft.
      The introduction of a Tesco on cheltenham road in a building which previose to being a comody club was a supermarket in my opinion is a welcome addition to the street.
      As for the 93% of residents that are oposed to tesco I would love to know who was asked as I dont know a single person. I suspect that whoever conducted this reserch confined there poll to the squatting comunity and the PRSC and their self apointed local spokesman who lives a mile away in StWerburgs

    • GC

      Finaly some-one talking sence.I too live in stokes croft and have been doing so for the last 15 years.
      in that time I have watched numerous shops opening and closing I have supported local businesses which have offered decent services and still do. however there a very few places selling fresh groceries on the croft.
      The introduction of a Tesco on cheltenham road in a building which previose to being a comody club was a supermarket in my opinion is a welcome addition to the street.
      As for the 93% of residents that are oposed to tesco I would love to know who was asked as I dont know a single person. I suspect that whoever conducted this reserch confined there poll to the squatting comunity and the PRSC and their self apointed local spokesman who lives a mile away in StWerburgs

    • iB

      Good post…

    • ekcol

      What’s the obsession with market forces?

      • Ben

        It is all about the market and it’s really, really simple. If people don’t want it, they won’t shop there and it will go away. If the do want it, they will shop there and it will stay. That is market force at work – it’s not a dirty word, and applies just as much to the Croft, the Kebab shop and cafe Kino as it does to Tesco.

    • Yosser Hughes

      Yeah, whatever. I live in Jamaica St, the Tesco store at the end of Dighton St opened over 5 years ago. Great, I thought, regenerative use of a brownfield site (ex-bomb site, ex car park) and only 5 minutes walk away. Now why the heck do I need another Tesco store 5 minutes walk in the opposite direction? So I’ve stopped shopping in any Tesco store anywhere.

    • girl

      You say people don’t want it, so don’t shop there and it will close down. Is it that simple? It is a main road with commuters walking past daily. The locals may not shop there, but the commuters will keep it in profit, they don’t seem so concerned about keeping the novelty and independence of the area as we are. It’s a poor argument I hear over and over.
      There was contraversy over the shops you mentioned, just not as widely publicised, and tescos has taken on a symbolic characteristic where it is in an area where people may congregate and organise protests (ie the heights, the social, the canteen, the art workshops). Which is why focus has been able to be placed on it.
      Liden homes didn’t arrive without contraversy and I’d suggest Kwik Fitt isn’t on stokes croft high street.

      I don’t want the market forces to work by themselves because I can predict exactly which direction they will go in, and with the council and government bias aiding their organisation as is alleged I think it’s unfair.
      I moved to Stokes croft because of its reputation as a community, and I felt part of a community at the beginning of last night. It did get out of hand though and that was a combination of very bad police tactics/communication/knowledge of the area, and some irresponsible and aggressive individuals. However I’d like to point out raids on other buildings were not planned, and there were no rumours of such that I heard. And I was on the inside of the police lines for the majority of the night!

      I dont think police were too heavy handed, but they did seem confused and frustrated by the lack of coherence between the forces and the only heavy handedness I saw them use was when they felt exposed, with the police line broken, by theselves, in self defence. I was horrified at the protesters throwing missiles at the police dogs and horses and a tyre thrown off a roof knocking a policeman out.

      The timing of the raid couldn’t have been worse, on the eve of a bank holiday, on a day protesters had their protest signs confiscated, on a thursday night which is busy in that area anyway, 2 days after a well publicised party in the squat that allowed the community to bond, onone of the hottest days of the year and everyone had been drinking and in the week the contravesial tescos opened.

      I’m proud of the community spirit that was shown, despite the few that have made us look more barbaric than the majority of us are.

      • Ben

        I think what you say here is pretty sensible, but I bring issue with one point. The idea that the party at the squat represents the community spirit. How many people were there? 100? 200? 500? Many thousands of people live in stokes croft and have done for a lot longer than this new community you are describing. They don’t represent me. While I would rather there not be a tesco in the space it’s better than another squat that serves the people who live there who don’t contribute to council tax in the area.

        While tesco has many deep wrongs never once have they made my daughter scared to walk down the road she has lived on her whole life – not because of the riots but the “community spirited” parties you described in the squat.

        They serve a very small vocal minority and you risk scaring away the actual community has lived in the area for many many years

        • http://neurobonkers.com Neurobonkers

          I think it’s important to point out that (if I’ve been informed correctly) it was in part the same group that squatted Tesco and were petitioning to turn the site in to a co-op that serves the community much like the cafe-kino co-op which works on a non-profit basis serving cheap locally sourced food and holding shows etc.

          Kino is about 200 yards down from the tesco site, well worth checking out http://www.cafe-kino.com/about/index.htm

          Anyway the group committed to stay at Tesco only as long as it took to delay the Tesco builders enough for the necessary legal petitions against Tesco to be sumbitted and when they were evicted they promptly and peacefully moved out, that’s the story I heard – I pass every day and I’ve never felt in the least bit threatened. They even posted a video explaining themselves on youtube

    • Kester

      “Why doesn’t someone open a shop that rivals Tesco?”

      They were trying to, as I said above.

      It looks like this Tescos hopefully will have to close due to ‘market forces’- a continuous protest outside discouraging people from shopping there and distributing information about how bad Tescos business ethics are, and now having their windows stoved in -all ‘market forces’!

  • Todd

    Do you know anything about the veracity of the petrol bombs claims that are made on the Beeb?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-13167041

    • KJ

      thought they were potential petrol bombs, ie any sort of glass bottle, such as can be found in any house in any country at any point in time?

      • Ben

        Found in any house which someone owns or rents. In this case the owns or rents doesn’t really apply as they weren’t meant to be there in the first place.

        • Anonymous

          Wow, so you think that if someone doesn’t own or rent they shouldn’t exist?! Think you might need to de-brainwash yourself.

          • Ben

            Of course they exist, that’s a ridiculous jump of logic and not what I said at all!

          • girl

            But you are suggesting that because they don’t pay rent their bottles and petrol have to be or are more likely to be petrol bombs? Squatters = terrorists? The bottles were likely to be from a party there two nights before and I hear a petrol generator was used to power the sound system. Rags and clothing are likely to be spread all over. I think you’ve made the jump of logic.

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  • Tomgibo

    Really good story, interesting read, but change your horrible and difficult to read font/colour scheme!

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  • herman jelmet

    You’ve just destroyed your own neighbourhood. Well done to everyone concerned. Alternatively you could of vowed to support the local shops which will now be forced to close due to massive insurance hikes. Again, well done everybody.

    • girl

      I made friends with my neighbours last night, I bonded with locals old and young. Contacts were made and social networking took place. I feel like my neighbourhood has developed despite the broken glass and burnt bins shown in the news reports. I think it is a development of my neighbourhood.

      • Ben

        Make friends with your neighbors by going around and saying hello any day of the week. That is community. That is the community I live in and have done for more than half my life. The neighborhood that I live in (the same one as you) was made worse by what happened – by the actions you consider a great development. I can say with 100% certainty that nothing I have ever done would give you cause to accuse me of making your community worse – and not because I keep myself tucked away, I’m an active member of our community. You however, have made it worse for me and many many others. In my mind you are just as bad or worse than the people forcing through the Tesco.

        • http://neurobonkers.com Neurobonkers

          Note the word “despite” in the her sentiment Ben. “Girl” made her categorical opposition to violence clear to you in her post above which you already responded to.

          No one here wanted these riots, and if they did they are not welcome on this page. We are merely trying to piece together the facts and work together to establish the causes of the unrest and prevent this happening again.

          I don’t doubt you are a pillar of the community but please try to be constructive, I share your upset at this happening here but unsubstantiated personal attacks don’t help anyone.

          First and foremost we need to work together now to promote genuine, peaceful discussion with each other in which we listen to each other’s viewpoints regardless of political standing and demonstrate that we are united in our opposition to violence.

          Apologies if this comes across as patronising but just please be civil.

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  • anon

    a lot of people are missing the point. 93% of people might not want tesco’s there. This doesn’t mean that once it’s there that all those people won’t use it. Troble is it’s too dam convenient.

    • Flora

      Seems to me the trouble is people have no say over their community, and the political channels aren’t working. Hello Capitalist totalitarianism! Market forces may self regulate If that’s all they were. In big business, however, market forces are nowadays backed by political oppression and corrupt trade agreements. This is why small business is so valuable and must be protected. We are being force-fed convenience in what is now evident to be a police state. It is a sign of how well we have been manipulated by the media to blame protest in general for violence, rather than the agents of violence: the growing police brutality in the western world. That is why the riot cops incite violence – to discredit protest as a whole. But given legitimate channels of public debate are no longer being honoured, protest is all we’ve got.
      The other side of it is that if big-business capitalism weren’t on its last legs, it wouldn’t need to rely on police brutality and political corruption like this. Ironically, market forces are at work, but on a larger scale. People are choosing, but for what they want for their communities. We must support all efforts to protect and exercise this right, even when they go awry. Who doesn’t become angry when beaten by a trunchen, or bitten by a police dog? How can we say how each of us would behave in that situation? We have the benefit of a safe, secure position to comment on a blog post, which is thankfully informative and dispassionate. The least we can do is take the opportunity to look at the big picture, and recognize that this is a worldwide phenomenon at present. And there is something very wrong with that.

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  • AM

    More HQ footage. High quality, from the front line.

    • Ben

      PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t call it the front line. You have no idea what a front line is and this is not one! It’s a bunch of idiots trashing the street!

      Lot’s of footage saying things like “the police are beating us up and we are not doing anything” but there is no voice from the police saying “people are throwing bricks, stones and glass at us!”. I particularly love when the guy throws burning card and it goes under my car and the police man pulls it out to avoid my car catching fire. Thanks everyone.

  • Ptee

    Never quite understand here why you don’t allow the Tesco to open (these are franchise stores SO someone in your community wanted to create the business opening) and then (1) boycott the store once open and (2) find out who it is behind the business application (Companies House?) and work on them ethically about their business. Unless of course this s fuelled by anti capitalist energy in which case don’t bother with (2).

    • http://neurobonkers.com Neurobonkers

      See comments and links above Pete. All of this was done.

      1.) This was already being done on a massive level, there were daily peaceful protests in which free cakes etc were given out infront of the store.

      2.) Take a look at the videos and links above, there was a group who submitted a parallel application to the council for an eco-covered market / co-op sort of thing that was well funded and received massive support from the community but it was denied by the council, despite massive petitions and council meetings, hence some of the pre-existing bitterness.

      There’s already one very succesful co-op on stokes croft already: http://www.cafe-kino.com/about/index.htm so there was really no reason to bring in a company that imports foreign food and exports the profits from the community for the benefit of a couple of dead end jobs and additive filled food that fuels conflict and poverty abroad.

      My point here is really that there was cause for anger but no-one was ever non-peaceful until this spontaneous poorly planned police sting in which the residents were treated like dirt kicked it all off. I now think the riot was also due to a lot of misinformation (i.e the police said nothing so people guessed at what was going on and rumours spread). There had been vast ammounts of coverage of the boycott and protest was without doubt peaceful before the police arrived. When police were allegedly seen removing peaceful protest stuff like signs and stickers from the house concerned things erupted largely because non-partisan but informed onlookers were angry that peaceful protesters were being rounded up. It just looked undemocratic and bordering on full scale corporate-police-state. That’s how it was perceived anyway. Apparently according to the police this isn’t what was happening at all, I’m guessing it’l be a long time before we really know the truth.

  • http://sherlockohms.org Sam

    I like the video you posted of the 28th – seems to show pretty conclusively that bottles started flying before the police ‘charge’ on horseback

    As a resident of the area, I’m sick and tired of these ‘protestors’ smashing the streets up and damaging local businesses whilst claiming to be out to protect them – can’t they just bugger off now and leave us in peace?

  • lisa bish

    You are so right , we do not live in a police state but your footage looks like one! Tesco and other major companys in the UK seem to get what ever they want , like yourselves we tried to stop a Tesco Express Store opening , but it did !!!
    Now our very community is being sold out by the people we have voted in to serve us. TESCO ARE IN BEHIND THE DOOR TALKS WITH THEM.
    They are now in the process of planning to put a 200sq mtr store on a recreation area. This is not some we as a community want but are being told to lie down and let it happen.
    So watching what is going on in stokescroft fills me with fear, as this could quite easily be our small town , with its small business.

  • zumbum

    Anyone else notice in the first video the guy that comes out from behind the police lines?

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