A friend of mine attended a public-police meeting in Montpelier about the situation in Stokes' Croft only a day or two before the Bookfair. The police displayed their usual bureaucratic ineptitude in PR, their pea brain belief that no matter what they are always 'doing the right thing', and their complete failure to understand the reasons for the April 'Tesco' riots. The gathered people vented their anger at the police tactics, while the officers present hunkered down on the defensive and mumbled inanities like 'this meeting is just a beat surgery' to the people's 'no, it's a special meeting we called about a neighbourhood crisis!' The massive gulf between them and the community was so sharp that you could draw it with a knife.
Luckily however, one inspector Moss appeared, actually having human communication skills, and... incredibly for a policeman... even a willingness to listen! As Moss talked, and (gasp) listened, his understanding of events transformed from an uncritical parroting of the police position to one that was a close as the police will ever get to admitting they 'may have got things wrong'. Moss then asked the public what they thought could be done, and it was at this point he announced to a stunned audience that the police were currently making plans to wade into the Anarchist Bookfair that weekend!!!
At this point people began shouting 'What?' 'Are you out of your tiny minds?' 'It's a bookfair, not a petrol bomb workshop!' and Moss began to feel uncomfortable. 'What should we do, then?' he asked. 'Stay well clear' said some people, then as he backtracked someone added 'If you really want to go, why not get your officers to go in as ordinary human beings, not in uniform and not on duty, with open minds, and maybe even... buy a book?' *
It now seems that a chastened Moss returned to his colleagues, and with only 24 hours or so to spare apparently dissuaded them from attacking the Anarchist Bookfair. This just shows what was in the pipeline, and how close we came to a THIRD consecutive week of mindless police clampdown and violence on Stokes' Croft.
* A prize will be awarded to whoever can photograph a uniformed copper thumbing through his recently purchased copy of Kropotkin ;)