Thursday, 28 April 2011

Stokes Croft Riot – For an open community enquiry

The Socialist Party believes that nothing short of a full-scale community enquiry made up of elected representatives from local trade unions and community organisations can begin to get to the bottom of the reasons for the outbreak of rioting around Stokes Croft that occurred on Thursday 21 April.

The events have been portrayed as an anti -Tesco protest, but even the Bristol Evening Post was forced to write that attacks on that shop began at 2.30am, over 5 hours after a police team entered Telepathic Heights allegedly to search the premises for petrol bombs.

It is stated that people in the community had become concerned after seeing people bringing ‘petrol bombs’ into Telepathic Heights, yet only one person has been charged with “possessing a petrol bomb and threatening property”, leading many to question whether he’s a victim of a police set-up after the event, to try and justify their massive over-response.

A number of urgent questions need to be answered by a community enquiry:

- Who supplied this information about petrol bombs and is it credible to ask us to believe that people were openly coming and going with them? It’s like a bank robber walking into a bank holding a bag with swag written on it.       
- Who took the decision to provocatively launch this action in the knowledge that it would take place at a time when hundreds of local people would be out and about enjoying the warm weather, relaxing with a drink or two and looking forward to the long weekend? 

- Why wasn’t the operation executed early in the morning in accordance with usual practice?

- Why did the police go charging in like robocops with reinforcements on hand from Wiltshire, Gwent and South Wales forces, if their target was so specific?

- Was there another agenda here as far as Avon and Somerset Police were concerned, involving dishing out a lesson to the ‘alternative’ Stokes Croft community, prior to the Royal Wedding and feared acts of civil disobedience on the day? In the last six months we’ve seen anti-cuts protests viciously attacked for no reason and hundreds of young students kettled and intimidated. Many are now asking, is the local police force out of control?

31 years after police aggression led to the St. Pauls riot, Britain is again becoming polarised between the super rich and the rest. Jobs and services are being slashed, EMA has been stolen from FE students and unemployment of 16-24 year olds now stands at a dizzying 20%. This is a recipe for anger and inevitably tensions in society are on the rise.

The Socialist Party does not condone damage against Tesco Express or other local businesses and opposes any attempt from whatever source to put the health of shop employees at risk. Rioting and acts of individual violence may be latent in this charged atmosphere, but offer no long-term solution to ordinary people alienated and oppressed by capitalism. The real way forward must be to build mass protest and resistance, involving trade unions and communities linking up together to defeat the cuts and the Cameron-Clegg Coalition which is trying to make us pay for the bankers’ crisis.

Tuesday 10 May, 7.30pm at Cheltenham Road Library, BS6 5QX
“What the Socialist Party Stands For”

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