Sunday, 1 May 2011

Stokes Croft Riots - eye-witness reports from 21st April 2011

“I arrived at Cheltenham Road at about 11.30pm. There was a peaceful crowd of around 200 and a line of riot police blocking off Ashley Road. By St Paul's Community Centre the riot police were running towards the crowds and driving them away from St Pauls. At one point on City Road some people tried to block the riot vans from herding the crowds by placing metal fences across the road. People held these fences in place and the police responded by driving their riot vans straight into the fences and consequently the people holding them. For several hours the police attempted to kettle the crowds on Cheltenham Road. On several occasions I saw the police knock people who posed no threat onto the ground with their riot shields. At approximately 2am around 10 riot vans sped up Cheltenham Road away from the crowds. The road was empty of police and this is when the Tesco store was attacked. Why did they leave Tesco’s unguarded? Was it to enable them to try and point to the riot as being against Tesco’s, when in fact it was in response to ferocity of the police assault? There seemed to be no threat of petrol bombs as I did not see a single fire engine all night”.
"When I first arrived there was only a small confrontation of between 50-100 people on Ashley rd/Bridgestock rd who having been charged by riot police, responded by throwing bottles and constructing barricades with bins. A complete overreaction by the police involving repeated charges, dogs, shutting down the whole of stokes croft, coupled with intimidation and assaults on innocent bystanders managed to turn this incident into a full scale riot. The fact that half the people there weren’t even sure how the riot started shows how they badly they handled the situation."

"I was a witness to the scenes on the streets of Stokes Croft. The actions and tactics of the police in entering Stokes Croft on a Thursday evening before the long bank holiday weekend incited and encouraged violence and chaos. I saw police riot vans driving down pavements towards people. The police used dogs, which in a confused and chaotic environment was dangerous. I also saw the police acting violently towards people who clearly had no involvement in the disorder and who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. "
Tuesday 10 May, 7.30pm at Cheltenham Road Library, BS6 5QX
“What the Socialist Party Stands For”

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