On 11th November, three people were sentenced for their participation in the Bristol uprisings against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act on 21st March 2021. While many cases are still awaiting sentence or are going through the Courts, at least 15 people have so far been convicted of riot and sentenced in total to over 75 years in prison.
As Justice for the Bristol Protesters stated:
The young people caught up in the disturbances of 21 March 2021 were standing up for everyone’s right to freedom of speech and have paid a very heavy price. As well as disproportionately harsh prison sentences, many have been traumatised by their experiences and have been demonised by the mainstream media. JBP aims to restore their reputations and get them the justice they deserve.
Netpol stands with the defendants and is pubishing statements from the three people sentenced today so you can hear what happened to them in their own words.
Tyler Overall – sentenced to 21 months for violent disorder
On the day of the protest, the weather was nice. No one had really been out much at all because of lockdown. But it turned from a protest into something else when the police started being violent.
I was following the marches throughout the day. When I joined at Bridewell Police Station, the majority of people there were sitting down on the floor. The police were outside the police station, but pretty soon they started blocking people from joining other people. They separated the crowd, they split it in two. I had friends one side and I was the other side.
Before long, there was violence everywhere – really and truly from the police. I don’t like see violence anywhere. A lot of people were there because they are travellers. The bill is going to affect everyone but especially them, so they’d only gone there that day to stand up against the bill.
The bill means they don’t want you to live roadside. They don’t want people living in caravans. They don’t want people not paying taxes and stuff like that. That bill was gonna make most of my friends homeless essentially. But not only was it going to make them homeless, it was also going to criminalise them. They government was basically trying to make people that have a different way of thinking to them – people that don’t have the luxury to afford a house and stuff – into criminals. Many of us turned to the cheaper alternative, the affordable alternative which is living in a fucking van or living in a caravan. Essentially, they’re just trying to target the poor. That’s what they’re doing.
There were people everywhere being struck by police batons that night. And they were being pepper sprayed to the point where – because we were in such a big crowd of people – everyone was affected. I saw people being assaulted by the police. They were being knocked to the floor, people were losing their balance. If one person got hit, they’d try to move because your natural reaction is to move away from the violence. So people were moving back, and then they were knocking into people, which would then make a ricochet effect on everybody. So people were falling on the floor, getting trampled on, all sorts of things. So I was doing my best to make sure that people weren’t going to be stampeded. When I saw somebody vulnerable on the floor, I would I would go out of my way and I would make sure that they were in a safer environment. And that meant I had to push a police shield to get them get them back so we were able able to pick somebody up and move them away and make sure they were okay. That’s what we were doing.
That night affected everything. It started to affect my work because it was a constant stress on my mind. It impacted my mental health to the point where I couldn’t do simple things I could do before. For the past two year I’ve struggled. ln the long haul scheme of things – looking back – I’ve kind of just been trying to push it all to one side. But that doesn’t work either. My ADHD had quieted down for many years but this all set it off really badly.
They’re sending me jail because I was there standing up for people’s rights. They’re making an example of us so that people don’t do this again because this is the easiest alternative for them. They want to scare people not to go to protests again. But even after all this, I really do believe that we should be out there always standing up for our rights. They’re always going to keep trying to pass these laws.
I was there that night. My mum was there when she was my age. My gran was there when she was my age. What’s happened to me doesn’t mean it’s going to happen to everybody so I don’t want this to ever be something that kills people’s spirit to protest.
If we don’t stand up and fight for our rights, if we don’t we don’t go and make noise on the streets and stuff like that, they’re just going to think that people don’t actually care. We need to lead by example. And we need to make sure that we’re standing up and we’re fighting against injustice because we can’t just let them win.
I’ve got just one message for the police. 1312.
Support the Bristol Defendants
We all need to make sure that those in prison from the uprising are supported and not forgotten. You can find details on how to write to them here.
Bristol ABC is also fundraising to support them. Bristol ABC sends prisoners £50 a month so they can buy phone credit and other essential items in prison. Bristol ABC is also dedicated to raising funds for books, clothes, distance learning courses and helping people’s friends and families visit them. All of these things make prison survivable and keep people connected to their loved ones. Any additional funds we raise will go towards the above.