More arrests in Stokes Croft 'Tesco protest'

Police on foot and horseback tried to push back the protesters

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Police involved in a second series of clashes between officers and protesters in Bristol have made 30 arrests.

A demonstration which started in Cheltenham Road, Stokes Croft, on Thursday night turned violent at about 0100 BST on Friday, police said.

Both officers and protesters were injured when rocks, bottles and other missiles were thrown.

On Friday morning, police raided a property in the road which led to a roof-top stand-off with protesters.

The road was closed while the raid took place. It reopened at 1500 BST.

Start Quote

What we have seen... is totally unacceptable behaviour which is clearly not supported by local people”

End Quote Rick Palmer Service director at Bristol City Council

A week ago, a Tesco Express store in the street was damaged during a protest after a squat was raided.

Police said last week's operation was carried out because they feared the newly-opened branch was to be petrol bombed.

The store has been at the centre of a campaign against its opening, but Tesco insists the majority of locals have condemned the violence and said there was strong support for the store.

Thursday night's demonstration began as a "good-spirited event" attended by about eight neighbourhood beat officers, police said.

"Police were determined to keep the peace and not be perceived as provocative or inflammatory in any way," a spokesman said.

"Police had urged people to stay away from the area whilst we brought the situation under control.

"But the crowd grew, from around 250 or so protesters earlier in the evening to more than 400."

'Treated violently'

But there were claims officers contributed to the problems.

One protester, 39-year-old Richard Ayres, said: "I received three blows to my legs and a blow to my head for which I have received hospital treatment."

He said he joined the protest to "show solidarity to those who had been treated violently" during the previous protests.

Mr Ayres claimed mounted police officers rushed down the middle of the street after Cheltenham Road was closed at about midnight.

"We were knocked to the side by them and were then shoved back by riot police with helmets, shields, truncheons and dogs," he said.

Richard Ayres Protester Richard Ayres, who was hurt in the clashes, said he was "flabbergasted"

"I remonstrated with them peacefully, flabbergasted at the sudden turn of events."

Chris D'Agorne, who lives in Bristol and works for the BBC, said: "I got trapped between the police and the protesters who were throwing bins, glass bottles and bricks.

"Occasionally police officers would come out of the line to strike protesters, but they were targeted and would then have to fall back.

"On Sydenham Road the police were battling up and down the street.

"Chunks of masonry ripped from a wall and the curb were thrown and landed on residents' cars, and I saw people trying to move their cars out of the way but they too got trapped between the lines."

The property raided by police was believed to be "directly connected" to the disorder.

"In light of recent events police have worked jointly with Bristol City Council to bring forward the eviction process around that property," a spokesman said.

Police negotiators went up to the roof where three people remained. The men were brought down just before 1400 BST.

'Volatile situation'

A spokesman said a number of officers had sustained injuries during the violence.

Rick Palmer, service director at Bristol City Council, said: "What we have seen... is totally unacceptable behaviour which is clearly not supported by local people."

Police at scene of Friday morning's raid in Cheltenham Road On Friday morning, officers raided a property believed to be "directly connected" to the disorder

A Tesco spokesperson said: "It's very sad that a handful of individuals have once again turned against police and the local community.

"Last night's violence in Stokes Croft and beyond underlines that this is not an anti-Tesco protest - our store is not even open."

Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said: "If you were involved in this disorder in any way - and there were more than 400 people who were there - then when we identify you, we will arrest you.

"It doesn't matter if you are captured on camera at the front throwing rocks, or if you were standing behind somebody else doing this, encouraging and inciting them to commit action.

"As far as we are concerned, if you were encouraging violent behaviour, then you are just as involved in the disorder as those throwing the missiles.

"Co-ordinated violence like we saw last night is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in Bristol."

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