Squatter protest in Bristol sees Tesco close early and ends in arrests
POLICE made a number of arrests at the end of a protest against changes in the legislation covering squatting.
They said about six people were arrested for public order offences near the Tesco store in Cheltenham Road – the scene of riots a year ago when police clashed with protesters ahead of the supermarket opening.
Saturday's demonstration had otherwise been peaceful, according to police who monitored the event.
The protest in and around the city centre was against the changes that make squatting a criminal offence instead of remaining a civil offence.
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The Government said it wanted to boost the rights of homeowners and end the lengthy process of them having to fight legal battles in the civil courts to get squatters evicted from their properties.
Police will be able to force entry and arrest anyone who has occupied a property, with squatters even risking a prison sentence if prosecuted.
The protesters walked through Broadmead and to the magistrates courts during the demonstration.
Officers said they continued without trouble until about 4pm but then a few headed for Stokes Croft, where the arrests were made. Others who had been involved in the event dispersed.
Staff at the Tesco store closed early as a result but there were no reports of damage.
At Easter 2011, the premises received extensive damage during a night of disturbances which saw police clash with protesters.