January 16, 2022
From Alternative Bristol (UK)

Yesterday’s National Day of Action against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill saw over 30 protest events across the UK. As ever with such national days, London protests grab the most headlines, although national media virtually ignored the lot. In Bristol local mainstream media, and indy/radical media, did give extensive coverage, especially online.
We estimate that upto 1500 people participated in Bristol during the afternoon & into the evening, a good turnout on a cold & damp day! But realistically, to defeat the PCSCBill, or rather (because it will become Law) to make it unworkable in the very near future, those numbers need to be 10 or 20 times bigger. Time will tell if that happens.

Bristol’s KillTheBill event gathered from 1pm on College Green. But earlier starting at 12noon, the BristolYS4C #YouthClimateSwarm, gathered a good 50 young people demanding action on the climate crisis. There were no arrests as roads were blocked, and independent legal observers kept a watchful eye. Report & info thread here:

The youth later joined the KTB protest on College Green, where campaign stalls shared info & legal bustcards. A 2-3pm rally with a diverse range of speakers over-ran by a good 40minutes. Speakers ranged from XR & environmentalists, to anti-Colston activists Cleo Lake & Rhian Graham (Colston4 defendant), to GRT and Drive To Survive, to the likes of Bristol Defendant Solidarity (BDS) & Bristol Copwatch. Here’s the opening 2 minutes of the Bristol Copwatcher speech (more on their twitter):

Then at last we were off on the march & it was good to be moving – “Whose streets? Our streets!” and ‘Kill The Bill” chants rang out. Homemade banners & placards proliferated, both artistic & politically direct. Led initially by a samba band, with another in the demo & several mobile sound systems, the march halted outside the Hippodrome after 5 minutes. Coloured smoke flares were let off, people climbed up onto street furniture, all roads were blocked, and the police suddenly looked very nervous – rightly so, this march was feisty & angry, and at the same time good humoured.

Frustrated by the slow pace, a sizeable mob headed off in the direction of Bridewell police station, and the police were seen to rush reinforecements into the area as legal observers looked on. But as the slower half of the march caught up, there was to be no repeat of the disturbances of last 21st March. Marchers instead headed back to College Green, again breaking up into two blocks on the way. Good report here from The Bristol Activist, whilst BDS tweeted some pics of the breakaway group:

Back at College Green hundreds remained for well over an hour, enjoying some samba & sound system rhythms, whilst a small group maintained a small road blockade for an hour. But as numbers dwindled the police used their classic tactic of issuing a Dispersal Order, and BDS reported at least one confirmed arrest. Memo to protesters: end an event together and disperse en masse.

And now? The PCSCBill is expected to pass through the House of Lords in the next couple of days. Some hope the unelected peers will vote down some authoritarian Tory amendments, but back in the House of Commons Tory MP’s have the majority to pass what they want, unimpeded by the Labour leadership. To be clear, this Bill is unacceptable in any format. Once Law, probably by the end of February at least, it must be made unworkable & unenforceable – by mass campaigns of civil disobedience, direct action & solidarity. With the Tory Govt finally being seen for what it is – our class enemy that doesn’t give a toss for our well being or futures; the police stretched; and the Courts at breaking point; it is not at all unimagineable to foresee a period of intense class combat on the streets nationwide. This Bill is just one reason, there are many more: rising prices & falling wages; outrageous utility bills; appalling mysoginy; ongoing systemic racism; covid mismanagement & unnecessary deaths; corporate & political corruption & greed; climate crisis & governments local & national failing to act; and a whole range of further oppressive laws in the pipeline. We need some serious movement building, free from party political interference, bringing together existing social movements with our wider communities.

Where there’s repression, there’s always resistance. Good to see then the first public appearance of the Bristol Anti-Repression Campaign (BARC KTB). They tell us:
“We have formed to both oppose this Bill, and to specifically defend those that the state is persecuting for speaking up and resisting in Bristol on 21 March 2021. However our criticism of these institutions goes far beyond this particular Bill, and our solidarity is for anyone who feels the injustice of the state whether it be the government, police, courts or prisons. We are BARC KTB – Bristol Anti-Repression Camapign!” BARC is comprised at present of KTB defendants, family & friends and contactable at BristolAntiRepressionCampaignKTB[at]riseup[dot]net.

With BDS recently reporting 13 already imprisoned from 21 March 2021, and 26 riot trials already scheduled from 31 January 2022, these people at the sharpend of the developing police state deserve all our support. And they’re a test case – the PCSCBill will undoubtedly see many more arrests/trials; how we respond & support these people will be a clear indicator of the strength of our movements. Resist to exist, with solidarity!

Read our previous KillTheBill coverage here, includes links to further info.
(all images – AltBristol)

Source: Alternativebristol.com