Bristol burns once more as Tesco riots return to streets of Stokes Croft

Police launched an eviction raid on a Bristol squat yesterday after riots raged for a second time in a suburb that has become a focal point for anger against heavy-handed policing.

More than 30 people were arrested after another night of violence in Stokes Croft, a bohemian suburb of Bristol that is vehemently opposed to the opening of a Tesco store.

Last week, a protest against the supermarket giant turned into running street battles as demonstrators clashed with baton-wielding riot officers. Somerset and Avon Police claimed they had uncovered a petrol bomb plot to attack the store but locals rubbished this and accused officers of using wildly disproportionate force to quell a peaceful anti-Tesco movement.

A broadly peaceful second protest on Thursday evening turned violent shortly after midnight when a small group of masked protesters threw bottles at police officers. Witnesses say police units responded with baton and horse charges, sparking more rioting that continued through the night.

Last week's protests centred on the opening of the new Tesco store, but many local residents of Stokes Croft yesterday voiced concerns that their demonstrations had been hijacked by outsiders keen to fight with the police.

"After last week, tensions were extremely high and there is a lot of anger at the police response," said Nick Martin, owner of the Left Bank Bar. "But it seemed there were many young people last night who came from outside the area to throw things at the police and cause trouble."

Luke Champion, a 32-year-old NHS worker beaten by police last week, said: "I saw a horrible side of the police last Thursday but this time around I think they were pretty restrained, considering how a small group of masked people were determined to cause violence. It's really sad."

Somerset and Avon Police yesterday defended its actions, saying officers had to respond after being pelted with bottles, rocks and other missiles by masked demonstrators who peeled away from the main crowd and headed to the centre of the city.

"We took swift and robust action to try to prevent further violence and damage to property," said Assistant Chief Constable Rod Hansen. "I am satisfied that our tactics were appropriate and proportionate... the officers involved acted professionally and with great restraint given the threat and personal danger they faced."

But some of those present said fired-up riot officers used baton charges against peaceful demonstrators. "I was hit a number of times across the leg and had nothing to do with violence," said a 31-year-old man who asked not to be named. "Sure some were spoiling for a fight, but so were the police. They were like animals."

Owen Pettinger, a 28-year-old local resident who works in marketing, said: "There were some troublemakers but the whole police response was so heavy handed. Anyone in their way, whoever you were, was cleared. Couldn't they have used snatch squads just to go after the rioters?"

At one point, residents trying to stop the violence sat down between police and lines of youths who had begun throwing bottles at officers. Claire Milne, a campaigner from No to Tesco in Stokes Croft, said: "We are devastated with what has happened since the arrival of Tesco and we will work hard to try and find ways to ensure that our community returns to its vibrant self."

Riot officers returned to the area at 9.30 yesterday morning to evict people from Telepathic Heights, a three-storey squat that has become a focal point of the protests. As police moved in a few squatters took to the roof and threw tiles at the officers below. It took more than four hours for the last holdouts to be brought down and arrested.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all