Bristol protester was ‘leader and instigator’ as violence unfolded, court hears
A protester took a leading role in an attack on a Bristol police station and set fire to a bin as a police van burned, a court has heard.
Jasmine York, 26, was allegedly instrumental in turning a peaceful protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill into a night of rioting.
York, of Arnos Vale, Bristol, is on trial at Bristol Crown Court facing a charge of riot and another of arson being reckless as to whether property was damaged or life endangered.
The protest began on Bristol’s College Green at 2pm on March 21 last year and was a demonstration against plans to increase the powers of the police and courts and also to curb protests, the jury heard.
It was largely peaceful until the mood shifted and the crowd’s anger became increasingly focused on officers policing the event, prosecutor Sarah Regan said.
York allegedly stood at the front of a crowd gathered outside the Bridewell Police Station leading those present in chants of “f*** the police”.
She filmed as protesters vandalised police vehicles, it is claimed, and helped set light to an industrial wheelie bin and push it up to a burning police van to keep the fire going, the court heard.
Ms Regan said a small group of protesters had left the main demonstration and gathered outside Bridewell Police station.
“(Demonstrators) pushed banners and flags into the faces of the police officers, actively trying to provoke a response from the police and actively trying to provoke a reaction from them,” she said.
The prosecutor continued: “A certain number of protesters no longer wanted to voice their concerns but in effect wanted to attack the police, there was only one place they could go and that place was the Bridewell Police Station.”
She added: “The tone of those at the front of the swelling crowd as clearly aggressive, one of those at the front was this defendant Jasmine York.”
The jury were told that everything York did on that day, together with others “amounted to riot”.
The court heard that York was bitten by a police dog during the unrest, after allegedly “taunting” the animals.
Ms Regan said: “(York) remained in front of the police support unit as they advanced to move her and other protesters away from the burning vehicles.
“She appeared to be taunting the police dogs and during that advance she was herself bitten.”
York livestreamed some of the protests on social media.
In one clip, she said: “I want to protect the police, I want to protect the police, I want to protect the justice system.
“But when I see innocent people being bullied I am going to make a stand, that’s why I’m here.”
“The aim of a minority of the protesters had changed, certainly as far as Jasmine York and other likeminded protesters were concerned,” Ms Regan said.
“It was no longer a Kill the Bill protest, it was a specific demonstration against the police themselves.”
York allegedly led chants of “f*** the police” and “Acab” which stands for “all cops are bastards”.
The defendant is accused of deliberately backing into a line of officers, and daubing graffiti on a van as other protesters climbed on it.
York is further accused of kicking a bin into a line of police officers as they tried to advance, calling them “scum” and “murderers”.
When another activist present got angry at the direction the day had taken and the violence unfolding, York told him to “shut the f*** up”.
Ms Regan said: “Jasmine York was a leader and an instigator of whatever thereafter unfolded.”
She added: “(York) was right at the front directing the crowd in chants of obvious hostility (to) police.”
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