As the Bristol Bookfair collective's organising meeting last Thursday, 21 April, was drawing to a close after nearly 3 hours, messages started coming in - cops evicting a squat on Stokes Croft, riot cops on the streets blocking off the road, small crowd gathering. It was about 10pm, and being an organised bunch, we completed our admin meeting before drifting off to get much needed food and drink. One collective member eventually cycled the 10 minutes to Stokes Croft, and subsequently wrote up this piece. What with all thats been going on, and the hot holiday weather, we've only just got around to posting it up now:
Stokes Croft is home to numerous clubs, bars and cafes as well as a number of independent and co-operative businesses including Co-exist, who are hosting this year’s Bristol Anarchist Bookfair at Hamilton House. This long run down inner city area sits on the edge of the Cabot Circus & Broadmead shopping palaces. It also forms a boundary on one edge of the St Pauls neighbourhood, a historically poor and neglected area with a large Afro-Caribbean community, and scene of many previous flashpoints with the cops and authorities. Stokes Croft, and St Pauls, have in recent times seen a degree of ‘regeneration and gentrification’, assisted partly by local street artists and those such as the Peoples Republic of Stokes Croft (PRSC) who have tried to ‘clean up’ the area by painting boarded up buildings and taking over empty premises. The area has been named by PRSC as ‘Bristol’s cultural quarter’. Also in recent years anarchist groups have squatted several derelict premises on Stokes Croft setting up a Free Shop, bookshop, art gallery, and non-commercial club/gig space, with other squats and a social centre nearby.
The trouble started at Telepathic Heights, a long-running residential squat that is diagonally opposite a new Tesco Express. Over the last year there has been a strong community campaign against the store opening which has lobbied councillors and made objections to the planning process. A group of squatters had taken over the proposed Tesco site last year for several weeks and used it as a home and community centre. When this was evicted last summer there was a demo of four hundred outside and minor skirmishes with the seventy police and bailiffs. Continue reading Stokes Croft, Tescos, and resistance to police provocation