Police Incident St Jude’s Bristol Uniting the Community With Armed Police

Police Incident St Jude’s Bristol:

There is nothing like a community crisis to bring neighbours together. People that have not looked in each other’s direction let alone uttered a single hello. This changed at 3pm on Monday 02 September, when armed police descended on a flat in St Jude’s, loudly announced “Armed Police” and proceeded to bash the door down. Not being Kate Adie, I recorded a snatch of the action from behind a five foot brick wall. This, according to Bristol Live who reported the incident was informed by police to be a ‘welfare check’.

The next day, after noticing people from the opposite block of flats leaning out of their Juliet balcony for far too long, it was apparent that something was going on again. There’s always something going on in St Jude’s. I’m writing this on a Sunday and in the last 24 hours there has been three fights on Wade Street and it’s still only 7pm.

Armed police, a significant number of armed police, a dog unit and vans “I’ve counted 15 so far,” the lady across the road called, had descended on the same flat again. “They were here at one in the morning too,” she said. I had literally never spoken to my neighbours, yet here was a community of people working together to find out what was going on.

A man from the local hostel turned up. He had a trainer on one foot, a flip flop on the other and was waving the other trainer around in his hand in an excited manner. “I’m going to find out what’s going on,” he told the growing congregation of people at windows. Rather him than me. Police were actively shooing people away from the situation.

After ten minutes he returned, trainer still in hand. “I don’t know what’s going on,” he called out. “They pointed a gun in my chest and told me to ‘fuck off’.”

There’s something delightfully old fashioned about people hanging out of flats passing information from family to family. Some of it was outrageously unlikely, but despite concerns there was also a feeling of cheer.

A determined mother from another flat marched down the road with a military efficiency, demanding an update from officers in a car. The official line in the media was ‘welfare check’ again, though military efficiency mum managed to get “weapons in flat”.

It had only been days since a pub brawl had broken out in the street, resulting in one man being dragged along the road by his neck before being smashed into the ground. Violence is common, rows break out all the time and I’ve even seen a huge barney after someone took a swig from cider belonging to somebody else.

St Jude’s is a massively segregated area. It’s an area that needs some community facilities, some investment, some anything really. People are happy to chat when united by a common theme. Armed police, drug busts and police dogs are the St Jude’s version of a Southville street party featuring ice cream, games and ticker tape. We have our flashing lights, our riot vans and drugs busts, but given the right circumstances, community cohesion is entirely possible. That has to bring some hope.

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