Freedom News

Riot and SCPO cases head to Bristol Crown Court

Two Bristolians accused of riot have been up in court this week in the latest of a series of cases related to Kill the Bill protests in 2020, while in a separate case anarchist prisoner Toby Shone is facing years of heavy surveillance via a Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO).

Indigo and Kadeem

The controversial Bristol riots series of trials have seen a number of heavy sentences handed down in recent months as protesters are processed through the court system. More than 80 people were arrested following the protests with at least 44 charged, and 16 people have been handed prison sentences so far with the longest being a 14-year sentence handed to Ryan Roberts.

Indigo, who was 19 at the time of the rally, saw their own trial kick off on May 3rd along with that of Kadeem, and supporters have been heading to Bristol Crown Court this week to show solidarity. Supporters chanted “all the cops are fucking liars, self defence is not a riot” in reference to police aggression against protesters. Bristol officers have been heavily criticised for their behaviour during the 2020 lockdown by both protesters and Parliamentarians, with an inquiry finding “significant failings” and that “revenge policing” had taken place.

In a statement on the case Bristol Anti-Repression Campaign said: “Riot is a rarely used charge that carries a jail term of up to 10 years. It’s a highly political charge – it needs to be signed off by the director of public prosecutions.  The chair of the APPG said the riot charges appeared to be ‘seeking to punish people in an excessive and disproportionate way, not just for protesting but for challenging the police’.”

Bristol ABC is also active in supporting the people sent down, including running a fundraiser which has now raised more than £31,000 and keeping a list of contacts for anyone who wants to send support and correspondence.

The trials are likely to conclude early next week.

Toby Shone

In November 2020 a police raid in the Forest of Dean arrested Toby Shone on allegations involving links to anarchist website 325nostate.net, a site which was itself shut down in March 2021 following a server seizure by Dutch police. Initially he was accused of being involved in terrorist activities, charges which have since been dropped in favour of a prosecution over possession of drugs which had been found in collective spaces during the raid.

The original raid took place as part Operation Adream, an “anti-terror” operation which is the first to have targeted anarchists in Britain in recent times, and is part of a series of similar initiatives across Europe which have aimed at disrupting anarchist activism, targeting a diverse swathe of groups for arrest and repression.

Having failed to show any links to terrorist activity, police subsequently picked up on the drugs angle arguing that Toby was holding them with intent to supply — a charge he vehemently rejects, saying “I’m anti capitalist and against any gang or mafia type practices. I’m opposed to the use of hard narcotics and their supply.”

Nevertheless, he was jailed for three years and nine months on the charges and, in a new twist, will be in court tomorrow to fight a police SCPO application — an order which is generally aimed at disrupting major organised crime. The order, if granted, would give police the power to snoop on any device Toby uses from phones to laptops and USB sticks.

—-> Update: The SCPO application has been denied

Supporters of Toby, who argue the measure amounts to an attempt to silence and block him from involvement in activism, are asking supporters to turn out at 8.30pm tomorrow (May 6th) at Bristol Crown Court to show solidarity with his case. You can also get in touch with him at time of writing via Toby Shone A7645EP, HM Prison Parc, Heol Hobcyn John, Coity, Bridgend CF35 6AP, and Brighton ABC is running a solidarity campaign which is also accepting donations.

For more on the case you can read Toby’s interview with the Canary, and check out the in-depth piece on squat.net.


Pic: Supporters gather outside Bristol Crown Court on May 3rd, photo by James Ward