Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Second Squatters March in Bristol

Following on from the previous demonstration on Friday 30th March and in response to the callout for another Day of Action; people gathered once again outside Metropolis, Stokes Croft on Saturday 14th April to protest against the House of Lords recent decent to criminalise squatting in residential properties. From the beginning there was a much higher police presence that last time with several officers patrolling Stokes Croft and keeping guard over Metropolis while two riot vans sat quietly round the corner outside Montpelier Station.

While people waited for more numbers to arrive two banners where hung on the old Metropolis noticeboard. One read: "CONTEMPT OF COURT: Solidarity With All Those Who House Themselves By All Means!" and another which read: "United People Of Earth: KEEP FREE HOUSING". Shortly afterwards a tricycle soundsystem turned up and the protest decided to move on (despite all the Police fears that the meeting point outside Metropolis was a clever ruse to break-in under the cover of daylight).

The protest moved down Stokes Croft where it took the road and made it's way towards town, stopping briefly outside Classic's Free Shop and The Emporium so people could show their support for the two buildings which have been squatted for several years and resisted eviction on multiple occassions. When they reached the St. James Barton roundabout people continued to block the road on their way towards Broadmead.

Chants of "Who's Street? Our Street!", "Build A Bonfire...", "All Bailiffs are Bastards" and "Stop Shopping, Start Squatting" could be heard over the soundsystem.

Once in Broadmead people quickly made their way through The Galleries where the soundsystem could be properly appreciated and heard all throughout the building. Cabot Circus was next on the list, where impromptu banner drops appeared either side of the balconies surrounding the central plaza (much to the dismay of the security).

On their way back through Broadmead another banner drop happened over the entrance to a church in the centre. Police made moves to arrest those who'd done the banner drop but where outsmarted when they simply climbed down the opposite side to where the officers where standing!

The protest then made it's way to Bristol Magistrate's Court where another impromptu banner drop left the Police and courts looking rather silly as the "CONTEMPT OF COURT" banner hung from the gates of the court, complete with two big middle fingers. After another brief party outside the courts the demonstration moved back towards Stokes Croft.

At Stokes Croft the demonstration finished outside Tesco where protestors stopped to wish them a Happy Birthday, which Tesco responded to by shutting down early and closing the shutters! The Police soon moved in and tried to move people out of the road and onto the pavement. A Section 14 announcement was made which permitted any form of protest after 4:00PM.

Police eventually arrested 11 people from breach of Section 14 of the Public Order act. As far as we're aware all but two accepted a caution and the rest are on police bail awaiting further action.

Click here for a recent article on the current situation on the new squatting law.

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