Riots took place in Stokes Croft, a cultural quarter of Bristol, on Thursday 21st April 2011 when police attempts to evict squatters from a house served as a lightening rod for popular resentment against a Tesco development in the area.
At 9.15pm last night, Bristol police executed a pre-prepared plan to arrest four individuals. Prior to the operation taking place, Cheltenham Road was closed off. The police released a statement on 22nd April 2011 saying:
“Three people were arrested on suspicion of public order offences and another person on suspicion of threats to cause criminal damage with intent to endanger life.
“Following the operation, which was completed swiftly and effectively, groups of protestors began to gather in Cheltenham Road and surrounding streets in the Stokes Croft area and refused to disperse when asked by police officers.
“As minor fires were started and bottles, bricks and other objects were hurled at police, additional officers were bought in to assist their colleagues.”
According to the police, eight police officers received minor injuries out of a team of 160, which included officers from neighbouring forces.
The operation is believed to have centred around a squat, known locally as “Telepathic Heights”. Eyewitnesses saw ten police vans pull up to the property, which is decorated with murals including one which reads “No Tesco in Stokes Croft”.
Owing to the road blocks on Cheltenham Road and the lack of explanation for proceedings, a crowd gathered and became caught up in proceedings.
Assistant Chief Constable Rod Hansen said:
“Residents have called us to several incidents in the property over the past few days. Yesterday there was a very real threat to the local community from the petrol bombs that were being made and we needed to take positive action.
“The safety of the public is paramount in any situation of this kind and we took the decision to carry out a swift arrest operation, following intelligence received about the criminal intentions of those who were occupying the building,”
“The fact that we seized petrol bombs illustrates the seriousness of this situation and the reason why we took this positive action.
“When 300 people congregated and a small minority from that group started small fires and throwing bottles, stones and other items at officers, we used well-rehearsed plans, which involved the use of officers from neighbouring forces to control what had become a volatile situation.”
Stokes Croft is a cultural hub within the city of Bristol – a coastal town in the UK. The famed graffiti artist, Banksy, painted mural named the “Mild Mild West” in the area and an activist group known as the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft works to revitalise the area through artwork and music.
Photos courtesy Pear Cafe (http://www.thepearcafe.com/intro.html) and Essex Eating (http://essexeating.blogspot.com/)