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Pop-up tweeter plans to support Bristol city clean-up

By Beth Rose
BBC News Online, Bristol

image captionMr Piers plans to let his followers know about fundraising events

A pop-up tweeter who attracted more than 3,000 followers in two days by tweeting about the riots in Bristol says he will continue tweeting about fundraisers in the city to help those affected.

Leon Piers, 21, a music producer from Frenchay who "rarely posted" on Twitter before Tuesday set up @BristolRiots to provide "solid facts".

What started as something to inform a few people, became a city-wide service as he cycled around Bristol, tweeting what he saw.

But now he plans to use his account as a forum for people to arrange and volunteer for clean-up operations.

"I'm going to use the page to update people about any clean-up or fundraising work that can be done to anyone affected by the riots," he said.

Mr Piers said he initially wanted to provide people with up-to-date information about what was happening in their city but as he gained more followers he felt a greater responsibility towards continuing the service.

"It was just me out on my bike, using my phone to call friends in various areas, text, and Twitter. I set up the account about 2pm on Tuesday afternoon and had hit 1,000 followers by tea time. All very wild.

"When you've got that many people hanging on your every word you feel kind of obliged to continue, not that I minded, as I keep saying to people, I'm happy to help wherever possible."

His followers included various members of the press, the occasional MP, worried parents and business owners who wanted to know whether to close their shops early.

image captionMr Piers said there were "high tensions" when riding through St Pauls on Wednesday night

"A lot of them were hanging on the words of rumour mills and hearsay but the fact I was doing my best to quash or even confirm any rumours and was only giving people solid facts was very reassuring for many."

Since the disorder in the city on Monday, 45 people have been arrested on suspicion of various offences including violent disorder and criminal damage.

A 16-year-old boy was detained for 12 months in a young offenders institution after he was found on the street with a 5ins (13cm) kitchen knife.

"I saw a few youths being arrested in St. Pauls in the early hours of Wednesday morning and a few youths being searched all around town," said Mr Piers.

"Tensions were definitely high and it was necessary to have a heightened sense of alert as compared to usual, but I didn't at any point feel in danger, the police had everything covered far too well."

But as the city becomes calmer does there remain a need for @BristolRiots?

"By no means will I stop using the account, I will use it to update people about various goings-on in Bristol both positive and negative.

"I will probably still use the cycle-to-the-scene system for any other things I feel necessary to shed light on.

"I feel that in the coming weeks I may change the name and just use it as a sort of Bristol cycle-journo page."

So just as quickly as @BristolRiots popped-up, it could disappear again.

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