Defend resistance to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The people arrested following recent demonstrations in Bristol against the much opposed Police Bill need our support.
We know the state will want to make examples of them.
As a grassroots voluntary group that has been supporting arrestees for over a decade, we have seen up close the damage a trial can do, regardless of the outcome. Particularly to people who have less privilege than those judging them.
We know that when the police are violent to protesters, they are determined to justify and excuse their actions through prosecuting those that witnessed and resisted their violence. This week in Bristol has shown the violence the police are capable of on the ground once they are emboldened by political support, after dark on Tuesday and again on Friday. The full scale of injuries sustained by protesters will continue to emerge, while the police have retracted their widely publicised claim that two officers sustained broken bones on Sunday.
Aspects of the protest on Sunday 21st March received immediate local, national, and international media coverage and political responses. The Mayor of Bristol has proclaimed everyone was “intent” on confrontation from the start. The police have branded demonstrators “a mob of animals”. Meanwhile some people have rushed to express “complete confidence in the approach taken by Avon & Somerset Police” – while the work of groups such as Bristol Copwatch shows that the approach taken by Avon & Somerset Police is racist and disproportionate year-round.
The heavy bias of reporting, depicting protesters as the initiators of violence, rather than the victims of violence, makes it unlikely that anyone accused of attending the protest on Sunday 21st March will get a fair trial. While even the most blatant sex-offenders are named “allegedly” until proven guilty, those arrested have had no such treatment. It is unrealistic to expect a jury will have missed these very public comments. It will influence the judgement in any trial.
History shows us that fundamental social change requires a diversity of tactics. We believe that no one taking part in moments of resistance should face the system alone. If you do too, please donate.
With cuts to legal aid, those in full time work will need support with lawyers’ fees. For those without that security, the trial risks limiting their capacity to find work.
We are aiming to raise £15,000 for people arrested following Bristol demonstrations against the government’s new legislation.
Depending on need, and in this priority order, we will use this fund to support those arrested in connection with the Kill the Bill protests by:
Supplying money for legal fees not covered by legal aid.
Paying any travel costs to court.
Covering loss of earnings sustained as a result of attending court.
Supporting legal cases made against the police.
Helping pay rent to ensure defendants can return to their homes after any custodial sentences.
Our crowdfunder is now live:
In the unlikely event of there being any money left over from this, it will be held by Bristol Defendant Solidarity to support people in a similar way in the future. Solidarity is our best defence.
In solidarity, BDS