Detectives were last night hunting for up to 500 members of the ‘extremist’ mob responsible for one of Britain’s worst riots in a decade – with eight people arrested so far.
Some 21 officers were injured when a ‘hardcore of serious criminals’ hijacked a peaceful protest and brought anarchy to Bristol streets on Sunday night.
Two officers were hospitalised, including one who suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs when he was stamped on by thugs.
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Three police vehicles were set alight and nine seriously damaged during the chaos, which left officers fearing for their lives in shocking scenes reminiscent of the 2011 riots.
Avon and Somerset Police Federation chairman Andy Roebuck said some criminals tried to set fire to police vans while officers were still inside.
‘To my mind that is attempted murder,’ he said.
So far, eight arrests have been made – six for violent disorder and two for possession of an offensive weapon.
Footage of the carnage shows rioters hurling missiles at officers defending Bridewell police station in the city centre. Rioters were filmed celebrating atop burning police vehicles.
The violence erupted as night fell following a day of demonstrations, when more than 3,000 people marched through the city to protest against planned legislation to hand police more powers to deal with peaceful demonstrations.
Police chiefs say the largely peaceful protest was infiltrated by criminals hell-bent on clashing with police.
Andy Marsh, the chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, said: ‘I believe the events were hijacked by extremists, people who were determined to commit criminal damage, to generate very negative sentiment about policing and to assault our brave officers.
‘There was a hardcore of serious criminals hidden within those 3,000 people – perhaps 400 or 500 people – and we certainly didn’t trigger this.
‘The officers were incredibly patient, incredibly professional and I pay tribute to them.’ Police have made eight arrests.
Some of the protesters proudly posed above a burning police car in the city centre in the riot
All are male and one is understood to be from Reading. The rest are from Bristol.
A clean-up operation was under way yesterday around the police station after thugs smashed the station’s windows and wrote ‘f*** the police’ on the walls.
Home Secretary Priti Patel was among those to criticise the ‘appalling thuggery’. She told MPs: ‘The scenes in Bristol were utterly shameful.
‘I will work with everybody to make sure that where the police need the powers to tackle the type of appalling thuggery and criminality that we saw yesterday, we will achieve that while absolutely protecting the right to protest peacefully in our country.’
Investigators have begun watching hours of CCTV, body-worn cameras and witnesses’ videos, and hope to identify the rioters in the coming days. Scenes of officers being pelted by stones, bottles and fireworks have been shared widely on social media.
Pictures apparently showed street furniture or roadworks equipment being destroyed
Avon and Somerset Police Federation chairman Andy Roebuck said some criminals tried to set fire to police vans while officers were still inside. ‘To my mind that is attempted murder.
‘When the protesters started to disperse, the feral criminals took the opportunity to hijack the protest. Officers said they felt they were going to be killed, such was the level of violence. You look into their eyes and hear how their voices were cracking – they were in fear for their lives.’
Sir Peter Fahy, former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, blamed the backlash from the policing of the Sarah Everard vigil, in south London, for the violence against officers.
‘I worry that police officers in Bristol were inhibited from using necessary force to stop ‘protesters’ from attacking them because of the lack of support they saw the Met receive,’ he said.
Investigators will be able to narrow down those who could help them with their enquiries
A significant investigation into the violent disorder in Bristol city centre has been launched with more than 100 officers and staff working on the inquiry.
A total of 21 officers were injured – two of them seriously – when they were violently confronted by people gathered outside the Bridewell Police Station in Bridewell Street.
Officers were attacked and threatened, police vehicles including a community police station were set on fire and criminal damage was caused to the police station exterior.
The PROFESSIONAL anarchists behind Kill the Bill chaos: How Sisters Uncut group that hijacked Sarah Everard vigil joined forces with career rabble-rousers to bring Bristol to its knees
Professional anarchists including one dubbed ‘the most dangerous man in Britain’ stirred up the Bristol protests into the city’s shameful night of violence.
The perfect storm of protesters, anarchists and troublemakers combined to create disgraceful scenes that saw police attacked and 999 vehicles set ablaze.
Sisters Uncut, who already organised Kill the Bill marches in cities around the country, hailed the action in Bristol.
Showing a picture of the demonstrations, they declared: ‘In Bristol, thousands attended a protest in defiance of the government’s plan to give the police more powers. Thousands said: #KillTheBill!’
The post online coincided exactly with the separate approval of veteran agitator Ian Bone, best known for harassing MP Jacob Rees-Mogg’s children outside their home in a protest.
On March 16 he had shared a placard which read ‘F*** the police’ in huge white letters, with the smaller text below ‘Crime, sentencing and courts bill’.
The next day he retweeted the date and time for the protest in Bristol, together with the meeting place.
Sisters Uncut was formed in 2014 by activists Janelle Brown and Vicky Ford to support victims of domestic violence, and found fame for stunts including jumping on the red carpet at the West End premiere of the movie ‘Suffragette’.
Sisters Uncut say the police are institutionally violent against women and cannot be trusted with women’s safety.
Sisters Uncut has been backed by BLM UK and Extinction Rebellion, who were behind the most high profile protests in Britain over the past few years.
The Bristol Anarchist Federation was also involved in the protests.
On the eve of the gathering they Tweeted: ‘Tomorrow, let’s #killthebill Bristol!’
They then joked about a picture of a skateboarder in front of a burning emergency vehicle: ‘When you do a trick so sick that a police van bursts into flame.’
The Major Crime Investigation Team is leading the inquiry, with support from colleagues in CID, Operational Support, Intelligence and Forensics, to track down those responsible for the violence and damage.
Det Chief Supt Carolyn Belafonte said the investigation would be comprehensive and could result in the release of the largest number of images for wanted suspects in the force’s history.
She said: ‘What happened on the streets of Bristol on Sunday was nothing short of disgraceful and it’s provoked widespread condemnation over the past 24 hours.
‘We’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and kindness that we’ve received from the public, as well as from organisations and agencies across the city. It’s greatly appreciated and means a lot to all the officers and staff who work day in, day out to keep the public safe.
‘We have an enormous amount of digital evidence to go through including CCTV footage, Body Worn Video, social media coverage and footage/photos provided by people at the scene.
‘We’ve already started receiving a large amount of digital material from the public, which we’re grateful for, but to ensure we capture all available evidence, we’ve set up a dedicated form via our website where people can provide video footage and photos
‘Once we’ve carried out an initial view of the material we’ve collated, we’ll be in a position to release images to the public to help us identify suspects. From what we’ve already collated, we’re confident more arrests are imminent.
‘A full forensic examination of the scene has been carried out today and this has resulted in forensic evidence being obtained, including fingerprints, which will also be used to help identify suspects.
‘This will be a lengthy investigation but we’re wholly committed to tracking down all those who engaged in the wanton disorder yesterday. To those who took part in this spree of offending, you can expect a knock at your door in the days or weeks to come – it may come sooner than you think.’
Detectives are hunting what they believe to be a ‘hardcore of serious criminals’ who infiltrated 3,000 legitimate demonstrators protesting the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on Sunday.
Among the thousands who massed at the city’s College Green were members of known anarchist groups, and those hostile to law enforcement.
And with hours of CCTV, body-worn police camera footage and eyewitness videos posted online to pore over, investigators will be working to identify activists who could help them with their enquiries.
They will include those seen proudly posing above a burning police car in the city centre and celebrating in front of smouldering emergency vehicles.
Pictures have also captured moments of clear criminal damage being carried out, such as street furniture or roadworks equipment being destroyed and people invading a police station.
The local Bridewell police station was also trashed, 12 police vans were set on fire or damaged, windows were smashed with graffiti sprayed across walls and buidlings.
Avon and Somerset Police’s Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: ‘This will undoubtedly lead to one of the biggest appeals for wanted suspects that we’ve ever done. There will be significant consequences for behaviour like this and we will leave no stone unturned’
A police van was the subject of other activity as some of the activists climbed on board
The protest was billed as being against the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will see the police handed new powers to tackle demonstrations.
But the rally turned sour as darkness began to fall as the pocket of criminals inside the demonstration began their work.
Groups understood to be at the march included Sisters Uncut, who already organised Kill the Bill marches in cities around the country, as well as regional anarchist organisations.
Members of the Bristol Anarchist Federation were also there, with one member seemingly blaming the police for what happened.
Most of the protesters were masked, meaning police could have a tough time with identity
Twenty police officers were injured, two seriously, when what started as a non-violent demonstration turned violent after hundreds of protesters descended on the New Bridewell police station
He wrote on a blog: ‘When the police took the gloves off and really struck out the people struck back.
What legislation is behind the protests to Kill the Bill?
The Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill could see the police handed more powers to tackle demonstrations.
The wide-ranging proposals include laws to reform sentencing, the courts and handling offenders.
If passed, some of the measures will be UK-wide while others may only apply in England and Wales. They include:
– Whole life orders for premeditated murder of a child, allowing judges to also hand out the maximum sentence to 18 to 20-year-olds in exceptional cases, like for acts of terrorism leading to mass loss of life.
– The legislation looks to toughen up powers the police have to tackle ‘non-violent’ protests which are significantly disruptive to the public or on access to Parliament.
– The proposed law includes an offence of ‘intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance’.
According to the Bill, someone commits this crime if they cause ‘serious harm to the public’, which can include ‘serious annoyance, serious inconvenience or serious loss of amenity’. Those convicted could face a fine or jail.
Meanwhile, the Government is also seeking to increase the maximum penalty for criminal damage to a memorial from three months to 10 years, under the Bill.
The laws could also see police have more powers to crack down on unauthorised encampments which interfere with the ability to use the land.
Officers could also be allowed to stop and search people more if plans for serious violence reduction orders go ahead.
This would make it easier to carry out checks on those who have previously been convicted of carrying a knife.
‘Batons, pepper spray and shields were met with fists and sticks.
‘The police vans that drove into the crowd were attacked with bottles and spray paint.’
Veteran anarchist Ian Bone also appeared delighted with the fire and fight unfolding in the city.
It is unknown whether he was in Bristol himself, or at his south London home, but Tweeted gleefully: ‘All hail the Bristol uprising’. It came just five days after he posted a message under his ‘Class War’ group branding, which predominantly featured the words ‘F*** the police’.
Twenty police officers were injured, two seriously, when what started as a non-violent demonstration turned violent after hundreds of protesters descended on the New Bridewell police station.
Two of these injured were treated in hospital after suffering broken ribs and an arm. Both have since been discharged.
Mr Marsh said the demonstration had been ‘hijacked’ by several hundred ‘extremists’.
‘I believe the events of yesterday were hijacked by extremists, people who were determined to commit criminal damage, to generate very negative sentiment about policing and to assault our brave officers,’ he said.
‘Officers were very patient. From the initial gathering of around 2,000 to 3,000, which was more than we anticipated, there were about 50 officers engaging with those present and encouraging them to disperse.
‘Many were complying, in fairness.
‘There was a hardcore of serious criminals hidden within those 3,000 people – perhaps 400 or 500 people – and we certainly didn’t trigger this.
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees, who said he had ‘major concerns’ about the Government’s Bill, condemned the thuggery but said the disorder would be used to justify the legislation.
‘It’s selfish, it is self-indulgent and self-centred activity – people living out their revolutionary fantasies,’ he said.
‘This has nothing to do with being in lockdown for a year. What has injuring police officers, smashing windows, burning cars got to do with the challenges we face as a city right now?
‘But the violence that happened last night goes nowhere to actually reducing the likelihood of this Bill winning support. In fact it does quite the contrary.
‘People from those communities who have been on the rough end of the criminal justice system are now in more danger. It doesn’t put them closer to justice, it puts them further away.
The picture shared by anarchist Ian Bone featured the phrase ‘F*** the police’ prominently
Some of the people at the protests were seen on top of structures risking public order offences
Other demonstrators could be seen celebrating in front of 999 vehicles being torched
‘It runs absolutely against what they claim to be fighting for – political illiteracy at large.’
Sue Mountstevens, police and crime commissioner for Avon and Somerset, said seven people had been arrested so far and there would be ‘many more’ detained.
‘It’s disgraceful and outrageous. Police officers went to work yesterday, and some have returned home via hospital battered and bruised,’ she said.
‘There will be warrants, there will be arrests and police will be checking on the CCTV. There will be further arrests in the next few hours and days.
‘I believe there have been seven arrests so far and there will be many more.’
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give the police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance.
Those convicted under the proposed legislation could face a fine or jail.
Avon and Somerset Police Federation chairman Andy Roebuck condemned the violence as ‘disgusting scenes in Bristol by a mob of animals’.
John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: ‘This is not about protecting the right to protest, it’s violent criminality from a hardcore minority who will hijack any situation for their own aims.’
Darren Jones, the Labour MP for Bristol North West, said: ‘You don’t campaign for the right to peaceful protest by setting police vans on fire or graffitiing buildings.’
Ian Bone: The lifelong anarchist who ‘grew up with an abiding contempt for the upper classes’
Ian Bone, who lived in Grenfell Tower in the 1980s, with a local North Kensington campaigner in 2017
Veteran activist and grandfather Ian Bone, 71, was once dubbed Britain’s most dangerous man after the Class War newspaper he launched in 1982 became so incendiary it featured pictures of beaten up policemen.
His father was butler to Sir Gerald Coke, grandson of the Earl of Leicester, and the family lived in a bonded cottage on a family estate in Hampshire.
Young Ian hated the rich children ‘from the big house’ for calling his father ‘Bone’ and grew up with an abiding contempt for the upper classes.
After finishing a degree in politics from Swansea University, he announced to his horrified parents that his choice of ‘career’ was to be an anarchist, and that he would fund it by claiming the dole.
The full-time anarchist – who’s been on state benefits since leaving university – now walks with a stick due to Parkinson’s disease.
Bone has been protesting since the 1980s and is a publisher with class activist publications, Class War and The Bristolian. He became a founding member of Class War, a group dedicated to the violent overthrow of state structures, and published newspapers in support of the cause.
At its height it sold 15,000 copies weekly and supported striking miners, dockers, print workers and demos including the Brixton Riots of 1981, before the publication was launched.
Activist Ian Bone (right, in the flat cap) was filmed accosting the Rees-Mogg family in 2018
Bone went on Bash the Rich marches (Bash the Rich is also the title of his autobiography). Just a decade ago he advocated violence to overthrow the state.
While still a weekly paper, Class War dubbed itself ‘Britain’s most unruly tabloid’.
After Prince William’s birth in September 1984 it carried a front page picture of him with the headline ‘Another f***ing royal parasite’.
Another front page carried an image of Margaret Thatcher with a hatchet buried in her head. When the paper folded, it carried on as a pressure group.
He lived in Grenfell from 1983-1986 and knew several residents who were caught up in the fire there where 72 people died.
He went on to protest outside The Shard when Grenfell residents weren’t being re-housed because there were 10 £50m empty luxury flats inside the state-of-the-art tower. Bone was taken to the High Court by Qatari royal family, owner of The Shard, in February 2018 to stop his protests before their lawyers withdrew their threat of an injunction against him.
In 2006 he told The Guardian newspaper that violence was key, saying: ‘Not (attacking someone) individually, but if you’re fighting back as a mob against a particular thing like the poll tax or the Iraq War (then) yes.. If the rich or the ruling class or the police are defending their interests, they deserve everything that’s coming to them.’
When Baroness Thatcher died in 2013, he used his blog to summon an army of followers to celebratory street parties, and published an image of the former prime minister’s head being cut open with a meat cleaver. Next to the image he wrote: ‘The best cut of all.’
In other film clips posted on YouTube, he rails against the Royal Family and urges ‘violent action’ to achieve his aims.
In 2015 Bone posted pictures of himself angrily brandishing a walking stick during a protest against the so-called gentrification of London.
He was the key figure behind a mob attack when riot police and helicopters were deployed after more than a thousand people descended on East London to protest against a trendy cafe selling breakfast cereals from around the world for up to £4.40 a bowl.
And in June 2018 he posted on his own Facebook page in regards to Donald Trump’s visit: ‘Spend the day idling and drinking around Bond Street/ New Bond street………..enter shops……handle the goods….be insolent to the rich… insolence comrades…let insolence win the day.’
After his unabashed assault on the Rees-Mogg family in 2018, the father-of-five remained silent about his own family.