Videos from the latest Bristol protest should dismiss all doubts over police violence

Police hit peaceful protestor with batons
Sophia Purdy-Moore

On 26 March, protesters gathered in Bristol to peacefully demonstrate against the Tory government’s draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The protest came after “violent and disgraceful policing” at previous ‘Kill the Bill’ protests.

Although Avon and Somerset police have retracted claims that officers sustained broken bones while dispersing crowds at the 21 March protest, government officials such as prime minister Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel continue to blame protestors for the violence in Bristol – as have the mainstream media and commentators. Now, however, people have released footage from the latest protest that should dismiss all doubts over police violence.

Scenes of police brutality

Bristol Cable editor Alon Aviram shared a video of protesters shouting “we are peaceful, what are you”, while police in riot gear brutally hit a defenceless demonstrator to the ground. He noted that this was the moment the peaceful sitting protest descended into violence:

Chris Rossdale, who watched the protest on a livestream, said that he was “utterly sickened” by the police brutality he witnessed:

Griff Ferris shared videos of police charging peaceful protestors – and hitting them with batons. Police even hit protesters who had their hands in the air:

And Michael Volpe circulated a video of police using their riot shields to strike sitting protesters:

Meanwhile, Cassi Perry noted that this use of a riot shield is “unlawful”:

Another user said, “this is the type of police brutality that the protests are about”:

Chloe also shared a video of police violence:

Responding to the home secretary’s statement calling protestors a “criminal minority”, James Felton shared a video of police in riot gear hitting a woman in the face:

Afshin Rattansi shared a video of police chasing protestors with dogs, suggesting that this is what the future of peaceful protest will look like if the draconian bill goes ahead:

Another user shared this announcement, concluding “we live in a fascist state”:

What about freedom of the press?

Journalist Matthew Dresch shared a video of police assaulting him at the protest:

Meanwhile, police “tricked” an independent journalist into an arrest:

An untrustworthy police force

Concluding that Avon & Somerset Police “are out of control”, Ash Sarkar summarised the events on 26 March, saying:

All Black Lives UK suggested the police had been using “army tactics”:

And Tom Scott highlighted the following:

Solidarity with protestors

One Twitter user highlighted that the police are responsible for the violence we’ve seen in Bristol this week:

Organisations denounced the police brutality many witnessed at the protest and shared messages of solidarity with protesters. Black Lives Matter UK said:

Liberty shared:

Calling the UK “a police state”, All Black Lives said:

Offering legal support for anyone affected by the brutal policing of the protest, Black Protest Legal Support said:

And the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) shared:

This footage of police violence has given us a vignette into what the policing of peaceful protests will continue to look like if the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is passed.

If you’re taking to the streets in solidarity with traveller communities and rough sleepers, and to fight for our right to protest, be sure to follow Green and Black Cross’s advice. If you don’t feel comfortable taking to the streets, you can still support the cause by signing petitions by Netpol and Liberty calling on the home secretary and justice secretary to scrap the draconian bill.

Finally, you can support grassroots organisations that carry out vital police monitoring work such as Bristol Copwatch and Bristol Defendant Solidarity.

Featured image via Momentum/Twitter

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