Stokes Croft

Looking at the pictures, I’m rather glad I was a long way from Stokes Croft in Bristol last night.  I saw a few posts on Facebook and Twitter last night and heard the news on BBC radio this morning. But I have to say their report did not seem to make a lot of sense.

It’s always difficult to know from a distance what actually happened, but the account on in The Battle of #StokesCroft certainly has the ring of truth, and as the phone pictures show was written by someone who was very much there.

In the introduction written for the News Networks it includes the following:

Please note the following facts in your reporting:

  • There was no evidence of violence before the police arrived.
  • Tesco was NOT petrol bombed as Sky news and The independent are now reporting.
  • It is extremely unlikely that the police claim that petrol bombs were found is true. The protesters were liberal pacifists (prior to the police onslaught) as evidenced by the links provided and in 4 hours of sustained full scale rioting in which the police were forced out of the area NO petrol bombs were thrown.

It would appear that the police acted on a rumour, and then embroidered that to present to the media as fact.  We know of course that this isn’t unusual – and has been well established in several high-profile cases, not least that of Jean Charles Menezes, when police issued an incredible amount of lies to reporters about him acting as a terrorist, which they lapped up and published before the truth – that he was an innocent man, going normally about his daily life – came out.

The news media are far too cosy in their relationships with the police and far too trusting about their statements. Or perhaps the journalists concerned just don’t care about the truth – if it makes a good story they will run it. Journalists often get pretty snooty about bloggers – even though some of the best blogs are written by journos frustrated that they can’t get what they want to say into more conventional media. But increasingly if you want to find out what really is happening you need to go the the blogs and social media – and of course to look at more than one source and use your judgement.

But though I’m appalled at the actions of some of my fellow journalists over this case and others like it, I mention it here because the piece includes photography and video of both professional and highly amateur quality, and I find the contrast of interest.

To see the phone pictures by the author of the piece properly, you need to zoom out a couple of times on your browser – assuming that like Firefox it enables you to do so, as they are too large otherwise to fit the browser window.

There are also some pretty silly comments,  and a few are photographic. “Dude, invest in a tripod!” is about the silliest thing I’ve read this month.

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