This weekend saw a whole host of ridiculous police repression at the Animal Rights Action Weekend.
On Saturday morning [3.3.12] there was a demonstration at Bristol Airport against Air France KLM, who are one of the few airlines still prepared to ship animals into this country for experimentation. The demonstration consisted of several people with fake blood on, being transported by some pretend KLM staff. After a member of the public supposedly got a small amount of fake blood on their sleeve and lost their temper, the police saw an opportunity to make some ridiculous arrests over claimed criminal damage offences, eventually arresting 6 people. One of the arrests was for assault of a PC after the arresting officer threw the arrestee to the floor and punched the floor next to them, injuring their own hand and blaming the arrestee!
The arrestees were all held for as close to 24 hours as they could possibly get away with (the last one being released at roughly 23 hours and 40 minutes) and held a whole host of ridiculous operations whilst they were inside. They first visited the venue of the Bristol Hunt Saboteurs benefit gig which had been organised in line with the action weekend, in an attempt to intimidate the venue saying it had been mention in the midst of some trouble earlier that day and so they were going to have a presence there that night.
Whilst the benefit gig was underway, they decided to take advantage of the distraction and arrive at Kebele [an anarchist social centre] which was being used as food and crash space through out the weekend. They did so equipped with a tow-truck there to take the minibus which had been used to transport activists to/from the action weekend, as well as to/from the demonstrations. It was supposedly needed as ‘evidence’ for the airport arrestees. They were quickly met with resistance as crowds of 30 or more gathered to make them aware of the ridiculous nature of their actions. After a few back up calls they briefly kettled activists on the pavement, realised that the tow-truck wasn’t capable of lifting the van and, despite having keys given to them before hand, smashed through the passenger window to gain access to the van. They then drove away leaving a large pile of broken glass in the road where children frequently fix their bikes.
Already be-wildered by the over the top actions of the police, activists thought the weekends events could continue without any further disruption (although a few people short) but were surprised to recieve phone calls in the morning saying that houses of the arrestees were being searched by the police. They seized laptops and phones and anything they could claim would be needed as evidence in this minor criminal damage case….
The Action Weekend then moved to the Easton Community Centre where it was set to end with a national animal rights coalition meeting. A temporary CCTV camera had been erected outside and it was not long before the police first appeared. After hiding their motives and being refused entry for some time they announced they were looking for two people they wished to arrest relating to the airport demonstration the previous day. After some further resistance, two police officers were allowed entry to a room full of masked meeting attendees. Frustrated, the police surrounded the building and awaited the meetings end, forming a cordon at the front entrance which would allow one person at a time to pass, so they could stop and search them. Armed police were amongst the lines surrounding the building. Unfortunately for them, their repressive tactics were ruined by a fire alarm going off and activists storming out of the front and fire exits en mass, preventing the police from stopping all but a few. As far as we are aware, the police didn’t find who they were looking for and all of the arrestees from the previous day were released on bail.
The land-rover which had been awaiting the release of arrestees in the car park of Weston police station for at least 20 hours was stopped and searched whilst transporting activists back to Bristol. The same then happened to the mini-bus which the police had only just returned, as they were leaving Bristol later that night. They were convinced they had found one of the activists they were looking for because their hair was similar to one of the descriptions they had until they discovered a bail sheet which informed them they had already arrested them, proving the amazing level of police intelligence and communication.
The Animal Rights Action weekend can be counted as a successful event, despite best police attempts. The same cannot be said for the Avon and Somerset constabulary’s weekend.
From : Bristol IMC