Bristol Anti Repression Campaign supports Ailsa Ruah – who is standing trial for Violent Disorder and Affray this week

Police protecting Bridewell police station

Bristol Anti Repression Campaign (BARC) sends a message of solidarity today to Ailsa Ruah, who will stand trial for Violent Disorder and Affray in Bristol Crown Court this week.

Ailsa was one of more than 82 arrested in the police crackdown after the 21 March 2021 Kill the Bill protest. Along with her comrades, Ailsa stood her ground against a line of aggressive riot police, and defended herself and her friends in the face of extreme violence from the cops.

On 21 March, riot police attacked protesters with long batons, pepper spray, dogs and horses. Hundreds of people gathered outside Bridewell police station to protest the proposed Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill (which has now become law), and the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan Police officer – which had happened just weeks before. The crowd fought back, and by the end of the evening several police cars had been set alight, and the police station windows smashed.

Ailsa is the 8th ‘Kill the Bill’ defendant to plead not guilty. If found guilty she faces a sentence  of up to 5 years. Already, juries have found 2 defendants not guilty of riot, 3 were found guilty, and 3 had hung juries. Many more have plead guilty to riot, or accepted plea bargains to lesser offences.

So far, 20 people have been sentenced to prison time and at least 18 people are still awaiting trial.

Most of the sentences have been for between three and six years, but Ryan Roberts was given a massive 14 year prison sentence last year.

Defence footage shown in the previous riot cases showed police hitting protesters on the head with their batons and the edges of their riot shields. Protestors can be seen bleeding from the head, in need of medical care. One woman was knocked unconscious by a police baton strike.

BARC stands in solidarity with Ailsa, and all of the Kill the Bill defendants and prisoners. We are here to defend them and to celebrate their resistance against a draconian Act which has given police new powers to crush protest, and criminalise Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, as well as giving the state more power to incarcerate people even longer.