Bristol high street leads to a wave of arrests.

Posted: February 20, 2011 in Police, Protest March

Saturday February 19th saw just over 1000 (300 if you listen to the BBC and 3000 if you trust the organisers magic attendance counter) march through Bristol city centre in protest against government public spending cuts ahead of the councils budget setting meeting on the following Tuesday. The event was organised by Bristol and District Anti Cuts Alliance.

A good cross section of Unions, students, campaign groups, community groups and various leftist factions were among the number. Songs were sung and chants rang out as protesters moved through the city centre starting at Castle Park and heading for College Green.

During this procession members of AFed dropped a banner from the bridge over the main carriageway that runs through the centre. Not the action of the decade but very noticeable from all the way into town and it stayed there for a couple of hours until retrieved.

The march was over in less than half an hour as it seemed the important bit was the rally although some felt that this was by large an exercise in preaching to the converted. There were a couple of decent speeches including a sixth form student who told of how pupils at his school were rallying against the loss of a physical eduction teacher, but while some comrades argued with the police over the health and safety issues of standing on a public right of way others took a trolley sound system and headed for the corporate tax dodgers in the city centre.

A good group of around 50 to 60 people paraded through the city centre and quickly closed many stores including Barclays, NatWest, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Vodafone & BHS. It was pretty surreal seeing so many stores all closed at the same time. Some shops who hadn’t been targeted closed in solidarity and soon all the shops on Broadmead’s central square were shut. BHS remained closed for the rest of the day and NatWest kept its doors locked only allowing one person in at a time.

Protesters went inside HSBC, NatWest, HMV and BHS and it was in BHS where the police made their move. One PCSO was quick to pull his baton and start swinging before one young student was tackled to the floor, when he attempted to defend himself the cops made out he had assaulted the PCSO and arrested him.

After some more fun and games blocking the police vans outside the crowd moved on to Trinity road police station to show their solidarity with the arrested. Just being in the area seemed to be enough of a reason for a few more shops to close as we moved through Cabot Circus.

In hindsight going to the station on mass may have been a mistake because once out of sight of the public the police moved to attack the demo using snatch squads to pick people off and dismantle the sound system. In total a further seven people were arrested outside the station.

The last arrestee did not emerge until 3.15am and it was heartening that about 10 people stayed until the end.

Two were released on police bail the others are due to appear before magistrates in the near future some had not even been interviewed.

Sadly we can expect more long evening outside (or inside) a cop shop as the police get heavier and we get angrier.

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