On March the 21st of last year, Indigo – who was only 19 at the time – took to the streets along with thousands of other Bristolians to protest against the authoritarian PCSC (Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts) Bill. This Bill – enacted into law on the 28th April 2022 – is an oppressive piece of legislation that violates our freedom to protest and directly persecutes marginalised communities.
The state, police and prison system is defined by institutional racism, misogyny and brutality. The past years we’ve seen so many examples of this – such as the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer, which happened just days before the protest Indigo went to. This Bill, which gives the police even more power, couldn’t go unchallenged.
During the protest, Indigo, like hundreds of other protesters, was exposed to brutal police violence. In fact, the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) which investigated these events concluded that the police’s use of force that day – deploying dogs, batons, and shield strikes (a practice known as “blading”) – was “disproportionate”. The police have faced no consequences for this violence, yet dozens of young protestors – including Indigo – have been charged with ‘riot’and received harsh prison sentences. Ryan Roberts was sentenced to 14 years in prison last year.
‘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 prosections. 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”. The use of these riot charges is a way for the state to clamp down on those brave enough to stand against police violence and repression.
Indigo has already been pre–judged in local and national media outlets, which published defamatory stories that have negatively affected her personal life – such as being excluded from her place of education.
We stand with Indigo and all those facing repression from the state for taking a stand against police violence. They have our love and solidarity.