Five weeks after the much criticised Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act came into force in England, a protest will be held to demand the release of those imprisoned following the Bridewell police station protest of March 21, 2021.
The protest will begin from 2pm on Saturday, August 6, outside St Peter’s Church, Castle Park. Bristol Defendant Solidarity released a statement on Tuesday explaining the protest, The full statement can be read below.
Nineteen people have been sent to prison so far. The heaviest sentence, handed to Ryan Roberts in December, was 14 years. Most have been three years for those found guilty of riot.
The use of riot charges in itself has been controversial. Not since the 1980s have so many people been hit with such charges, leading some to question whether the Kill The Bill defendants are being made examples of by the state.
Eighty-five people have been charged and each faces prison time in the face of a hostile judiciary and a political establishment, nationally and locally, out for blood.
There have been some silver linings. In May, Kadeem Yarde was found not guilty of riot by a jury and fellow protester Indigo Bond’s trial resulted in a hung jury and was rescheduled for later this year.
In the debate around justice for protesters what has been lost is the question of bringing justice against the police who undoubtedly aggravated the protests in March last year, and those in Bristol’s establishment who supported and facilitated the police.
Bristol Defendant Solidarity’s statement in full:
“For the last year we have watched friends and loved ones be taken into the criminal injustice system, locked for years behind walls of steel, stone and barbed wire. “
“For what? For fighting, for resisting, for saying no. For not accepting the police beating friends or strangers with shields and batons. For not accepting the state continuing to increase its power over already the most marginalised people. For refusing to allow the police to break our demonstration, “Who’s [sic[ streets?”
“No really – who’s [sic] are they? Or for simply fighting back on no other principle than that the police are the enemy of the people, the long arm of systematic racism, poverty and inequality.
“Some did very little, some did a lot, some did simply nothing more than refuse to leave their friends whilst the police beat them.
“All should be free.
“It is time to come together again against the multitude of increasingly fascist legislation that this government had put through: the PCSC Bill, the spycops bill, the Nationality and Borders Bill, the Overseas Operations Bill. Look them up.
“It is time to come together by standing with these prisoners. To show the state who’s [sic] side we are on.
“By standing with these prisoners and defendants we show that we are on the side of resistance, not repression. On the side of the people, not the state.
“It is time to organise. Let’s come together on the 6th August in solidarity with those that fought against the state and its fascist legislation.
“Free the Prisoners
“Drop the Charges.”