Residents in the St Werburgh’s area of Bristol have been left bemused after police shut down an open-air screening of the first full film on the Stokes Croft riot last week.
Police turned up to the Occasional Cinema event in Mina Road Park at about 6.30pm yesterday, with six vans, dogs, a police helicopter hovering overhead and set up a roadblock to stop the event.
Guests at the event said officers explained they were shutting the event down because it had been classed as a rave, despite the fact that such events in the past have always taken place peacefully with the organisers clearing up after them.
The crowd of about 100 people then moved to a property known as ‘Banana Tom’s’ house in the Ashley Vale allotments with people continuing to arrive at dusk and the police helicopter circling overhead. Three individuals were seen to wheel a stacked sound system rig down the footpath from Ashley Hill with the music pumping out over the normally quiet allotments.
A source at the event said: “Eventually, after about half and hour or so of the police throughly annoying a whole new bunch of people they gave up and leave having achieved absolutely nothing except further alienation of the local community. Are the police on a mission to spark a second riot?”
Avon and Somerset police released a statement saying they had attended to close down an unlicensed event, and said their actions were supported by Bristol City Council.
They added that the group was dispersed under legislation available to the police to maintain public safety and reduce the risk of potential disorder.
Chief Inspector John Holt said: “This was not about censorship. We believed there was a very real risk to the local community if the screening were to go ahead in a public park.
“We would always encourage people wishing to organise outdoor events to engage with us so that they can go ahead safely, peacefully and without disruption to local residents.”