Last night, Tuesday March 23rd 20201, we and several other groups received this following message:
“Currently there is a violent police force threatening peaceful protestors at a Resist Anti-Trespass occupation, with dogs whilst kettling protestors on College Green, Bristol. They came in heavy handed and have violently removed protestors who have remained peaceful and non-violent throughout. You will see tomorrow most likely a very different narrative being pushed by a media intent on demonising protest so this is what is actually happening:
The protest is against the extermination of a way of life. The anti-trespass bill aims to criminalise a nomadic way of life and give police powers to take vehicles and people’s homes away from them. Under the new law the police can deem 2 Vehicles together an illegal convoy and have the power to remove people, deport people to a different country as well as take homes away. The new law also criminalises our freedom to explore this beautiful country of ours, criminalises your weekend walks and legal right to squat abandoned buildings. The effect that the laws will have on traveller communities is huge and irreversible. It is part of a systematic persecution of a minority ethnic group and the demonization of all those that choose to make their home on the road. There is so much to lose with this law going ahead and we as a nation must protest this.
After the events of Sunday it was decided and vocally stated to all those coming to the occupation that the protest would be as calm as possible. No violence would be tolerated and even in case of escalation from the police people vowed to remain peaceful. Throughout the day workshops were done, speeches made, poetry shared and food eagerly gobbled up. At no point was it any more than a beautiful expression of love for a lifestyle that champions community and freedom above all.
The police however have come in violent and aggressive, most likely attempting to antagonise people and provoke rioting so as to diminish the validity.”
What we saw last night in Bristol, is nothing new. Violence from the police happens every day to those on the fringes of our society, especially those who identify as Gypsy, Roma and Traveller, and all those NFA – homeless, squatters as well as protest camp occupiers. From Dale Farm to the recent Squat eviction on Gloucester Road. From the National Eviction Team breaking peoples bones in evictions for HS2, to the 1780 deaths in police custody since 1990, and 600 cases of sexual abuse. The agents of the state, employed to commit violence are almost immune from condemnation, prosecution and justice.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will ensure nothing short of ethnic cleansing for GRT communities, it will see hundreds of people criminalised either for their chosen way of life or for being poor and on the streets. It will ensure squatters get put behind bars for making homes out of derelict and empty buildings that have been left to rot. If you dare occupy a woodland to oppose corrupt and destructive projects such as HS2, you could face jail time for being on the wrong side of a fence. It doesn’t need to be said that this bill will certainly have an even greater adverse effect on black and ethnic minority members of the public – who are already most excluded from accessing the countryside, affordable housing, and count for 8% of deaths in police custody (but only 3% of UK population).
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, is the most serious act of violence against the freedoms and rights of us all, no matter who you are. But as ever, it is the already oppressed who will bare the brunt of this bill, and who will be on the receiving end of the most violent enforcement.
But police violence will not stop us, it never has and it never will. The need for solidarity has never been stronger.
We stand with Bristol.
We stand with Gypsy, Roma & Travellers.
We stand with all NFA residents & homeless.
We stand with all Protest occupations.
We stand with our marginalised communities.
Kill The Bill
Defund The Police
Fire To The Prisons
and All Cops Are Bastards