Bristol protester who suffered brutal police injuries could face years in prison

Support Jasmine banner outside Bristol Crown Court
Support us and go ad-free

Crowds of supporters protested outside Bristol Crown Court in solidarity with Jasmine York on 31 January. York is on trial after being brutally beaten by police following Bristol’s Kill The Bill protest on 21 March 2021. On the first day of her trial, a jury heard that York is accused of both riot and arson, after allegedly wheeling a rubbish bin towards a police van that had been set alight.

York was just one of thousands who took to Bristol’s streets to demonstrate against the Tories’ draconian Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill. The police’s heavy-handed tactics on the day have been well-documented, both in The Canary and in the mainstream press. The Canary’s Sophia Purdy-Moore witnessed riot police hitting protesters round the head with batons, while both the Guardian and Al Jazeera reported that York claimed to have suffered injuries including a dog bite and baton strike.

Judge Patrick urged the jury to “avoid any emotion” as they hear the evidence against York. He reminded them that it is a court of law, not a court of “morals”. Meanwhile, prosecutor Sarah Regan was keen to paint York as a ringleader of a “mob”. The prosecution showed lengthy footage of the course of events on 21 March, which culminated in three police vehicles being set on fire. Although much of the footage didn’t show York, Regan said in her opening speech:

it is clear from the footage that even from that early stage, Jasmine York saw herself, not as merely one of a crowd, or someone who was led along with the tide, but as a leader and instigator of what very quickly thereafter unfolded. Because throughout all of that part of events, she wasn’t at the back, or even in the centre of the crowd, but right at the front – directing the mass of people behind her in chants and in their obvious hostility against the police.

Screams of “no, no, no”
Footage showed York on camera. She shows her injured hand, and says:
I believe in the right to peaceful protest. My hand’s not very good…[I was] protecting a woman who was Black who got hit in the face with a baton.
Another clip was shown to the jury, where York showed her injury after being bitten by a police dog. Further livestream footage from York herself was shown to the court, and the jury heard her screaming:

no, don’t hit, stop…

stop hitting her…

no, no, no, no, no, stop, stop.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free
Injuries

York was just one of at least 62 people who were injured in a succession of protests in Bristol against the police bill between 21 and 26 March. Seven of those injuries required treatment in hospital, and there were at least 22 head injuries. Meanwhile, there was significant misreporting in the mainstream press. Avon and Somerset police falsely reported that officers had received broken bones on the 21 March before quietly retracting the allegations – but only after they had made national headlines. Avon and Somerset’s police chief quit his role after criticism of the policing of the protests although he claimed he made the decision before the events on 21 March.

If found guilty, York could be facing years in prison, while none of the police officers who brutalised Bristol protesters in March 2021 have been held accountable.

“A system that brutalises”

Campaigners travelled from across the country to show their solidarity with York. In fact, there were so many supporters that people were turned away from the packed court room. Speeches were made outside, including by Bristol Anti Repression Campaign (BARC), a group made up of a number of defendants and their supporters. BARC said:

In the backdrop of the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer, and the violent policing of the resulting vigils, thousands of Bristolians – including Jasmine – took to the streets of Bristol to protest against handing the police further powers through the PCSC bill.
The group continued:

On 21 March, demonstrators like Jasmine faced repeated and excessive violence from police officers. Indeed, the horrific injuries received by Jasmine at the hands of police have been widely disseminated in the media.

Jasmine has now been charged with riot and arson, and she could face a custodial sentence. We see this as an attempt by the state to intimidate and frighten those who dare to come together to resist against a system that brutalises and impoverishes us.

Kill The Bill

So far, 82 people have been arrested – most of them for riot – following the 21 March demonstration. 12 of them have now received sentences totalling over 49 years in prison, including Ryan Roberts, who was sentenced to a brutal 14 years in prison in December. The people of Bristol were outraged that an institution that thrives on misogyny, spies on women, and kills people in custody will get even more powers.

BARC said:

We stand beside Jasmine and all of the other protesters facing charges for taking a stand against police violence and repression. They have all of our love, respect and solidarity.

York was shown on video saying:

We pose a threat, people are powerful, the institution’s weak…power to the people.

The trial at Bristol Crown Court continues.

Featured image via Eliza Egret

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us