Activists in Bristol have won a partial court victory, as Jasmine York has been found not guilty of riot and of arson involving reckless likely to endanger life. However, York was found guilty of a lesser charge of arson, and has been released on bail pending sentencing on 14 March. The Jury returned a majority ‘not guilty’ verdict after York’s trial last week, and spent nearly 2 days in deliberation.
York was one among many people facing a prison sentence for her part in the Kill the Bill demonstrations in March 2021, and suffered heavy police violence and injuries from the protest.
There have now been more than 70 arrests after the #KillTheBill protests in Bristol. Netpol have reported before on events in Bristol, when police cracked down on a demonstration outside Bridewell Police Station and the resulting unrest became headline news across the country. This was followed by a week of intense police violence in Bristol, with Avon and Somerset police accused of “revenge policing” and unlawful use of force against demonstrators that left more than 62 people injured.
Just before Christmas, Ryan Roberts was jailed for 14 years for his part in the demonstration and so far, 13 people have been sentenced to a total of over 49 years in prison. The police and courts are vigorously pursuing charges against people on the demonstration that night – from January 2022 to the end of August 2022, there are already 26 more people on trial for Riot at Bristol Crown Court, with more to come. Bristol ABC have launched a fundraiser to support the people in prison.
‘Not guilty’ of riot charges
Bristol Anti-Repression Campaign released a statement following the trial, saying:
Regardless of the verdict, we always knew that the charges against Jasmine were trumped up and outrageous. The Crown Prosecution Service dubbed Jasmine a ‘leader’ and ‘instigator’ of a ‘riot’. In fact there was no evidence of this whatsoever. This was reflected in the jury’s unanimous ‘not guilty’ verdict for riot.
We are proud that people in our community stood up against the violence of the police. We need to build real community power, and grow our strength to resist against state control. Today’s not guilty verdicts for the most serious two charges against Jasmine are the first ‘not guilty’ verdicts in the Bristol ‘riot’ trials. These verdicts show we can fight and win these cases.