On the afternoon of august 17th, police raided a house in central Bristol where an editor of local newspaper The Autonomist lives. Riot police kicked down the door of the property without warning, detained the inhabitants for two hours, and seized articles relating to the production of The Autonomist. Delighted journalists from the Evening Post swarmed around outside, trying to photograph the detainees and remaining in contact with an officer inside by telephone at all times.
The grudgingly-produced warrant for the raid attempts to link the occupants to recent disorder (as did a frankly libellous sign erected outside by the police). It authorises the seizure of “rocks (may by having glass samples upon)” and “white paint”, and refers repeatedly to “domestic extremisim [sic]”. The list rounded out with such incriminating articles as “pedal cycles”, “clothing”, and “literature”. Several other items not listed, such as passports, were also illegally seized.
The Autonomist is a popular but controversial local paper, produced by a small group of mainly homeless local people and distributed for free. They’re dedicated to reporting unheard voices in the community, but this principled stance has caused problems in the past. Refusal to censor reports of the rising tide of sabotage attacks around Bristol, or to stick to police statements when reporting the riots in april, has earned the enmity of the police.
Collective member Lucy Parsons says “The seizure of phones, computers, and paperwork relating to the production of The Autonomist just as we start to compile the september edition is a clear, worrying, and damaging attack on journalistic independence. The demonisation of those who report the news as “domestic extremists”, and the willingness to use violence to silence them, does not fill us with confidence in the police or the future of liberty in this country. Regardless, we will continue to produce The Autonomist, using computers at the library if we have to, and you can expect the september issue at the turn of the month.”