Peaceful protestors await Tesco eviction

I am in awe of the No Tesco squatters.

They are putting their safety and freedom on the line, taking non-violent direct action to keep the old Jesters building as a community centre.

It’s a lovely space with its wooden bars and stage and has become a hub of homemade entertainment and education since the squatters moved in.

In time, it could become a food coop selling affordable healthy food.

Instead Tesco wants to turn it into another soulless supermarket selling mass-produced food – even though there are five Tescos within walking distance.

The idea of another Tesco is unpopular.

Many (numbers tbc) have signed the e-petition at Bristol City Council.

3,500 have signed postcards complaining to Bristol City Council about the lack of consultation over the building’s change of use from ‘comedy club’ to ‘shop’.

Supermarkets are bad for local business and communities.

Supermarkets ‘will kill corner shops by 2015’ according to the Times.

Local shops create neighbourliness – and local profit.

Spend money with your local shopkeeper (instead of a supermarket) and the money doubles in value to the community because it is re-spent locally.

Planning laws are toothless – they cannot protect its own.

So the squatters moved into the beautiful old building Tesco wants.

Sadly, on the 2 March they lost their court case to keep it for the community.

The peaceful squatters want to save the building.

Inspired by Gandhi, they practice passive resistance, or Satyagraha.

My photo

The poles on the roof (see my pic above) are an urban version of climbing up a tree and refusing to leave in order to stop it being cut down.

It’s called manufactured vulnerability.

If Tesco wants to repossess the building, then the police and bailiffs acting on court orders will have to evict the squatters by force.

A terrible situation for all involved.

The squatters remind me of the suffragettes who chained themselves to railings.

Sometimes people take brave and desperate action to improve the quality of life for future generations.

Tesco could choose to hand the building back to the community.

What a graceful PR coup for Tesco that would be!

What do you think?

20 responses to “Peaceful protestors await Tesco eviction

  1. Hi Elizabeth,

    I have been following your posts on the subject, but if Tesco-s did hand it back, how would the squatters be able to keep it? someone would buy it at some point wouldnt they, OK yes anything would be better than Tesco-s but still, the squatters wouldnt be able to “keep” the property for long anyway would they?


  2. The City Council could subsidize such an alternative food coop in the Tesco space. I really really admire passive resisters. I remember once sitting in a protest waiting to be arrested. I was protesting one of the imperial wars against the Middle East. Thousands of us sat on the pavement for hours in front of City Hall in San Francisco waiting to be arrested. Cop vans surrounded us. We were holding hands, singing. My held hands were trembling uncontrollably. The anticipation of the arrest was excruciating. Cops in US are tough, and we knew some of us would get beaten up in the bowels of City Hall. Anyway, after four hours of this, yours truly got up and walked away before the cops swooped. I couldn’t stand the wait any longer, and the feeling of terror that kept building inside me. And that, my friends, was the extent of my bravery and why I admire the Tesco peaceful protesters soooo much. Waiting to be arrested takes tremendous discipline. They are highly evolved people. Thanks E for covering this very important action.


  3. Wow, thanks, Philippa. I had no idea you did that.

    It really brings home how scary it is.

    I agree. What incredible bravery.


  4. Ever since former Jesters got squatted there’s been 3 or 4 very inspiring events per week.. With often up to 200 (or more) people per night, from a variety of backgrounds. Thus not just those adhering to the anti-capitalist squatters ethos.

    It goes to show that there is a real.. and much bigger need for an autonomously-run community space (how many are there in Bristol?) where people can congregate without being tied down by money and bureaucracy.. than for another anonymous consumer temple.

    In the end this is a discussion about what is most important: the financial and legal might of an anonymous company.. or the real wishes and needs of local people. Yes: people..

    Subject closed.


  5. I really admire the peaceful protestors – and you for covering this very important action and stand! How brave you all are – and how caring and insightful. With awe and gratitude Roz


  6. So good on them for trying and wouldn’t it be great if Tesco’s were shamed into allowing them to stay. I too hugely admire people taking this sort of direct action – the most I’ve done is been on a few marches.


  7. If the toff, tofu-munching, tossers in Mockney Montpellier don’t want a Tesco, can we please have one in Old Market?


  8. There are over 20 Tesco stores in Bristol already.

    Residents and voters should make this their no.1 Election Issue in May and let the candidates know we will make them accountable.

    Good Luck and keep the faith



  9. In awe of these pikeys are you Phillipa? They don’t even come from round here. Just green rentamob dole merchants. I bet the students have been scared away by them as well, can’t let mummy and daddy see them get arrested for criminal damage! Food co-op MY ARSE. They couldn’t run a bath, let alone a business. Prat. Most people around Stokes Croft want to see it improve with decent facilities like a Tesco. Get your head out of your backside, you naive hippie.


    • Gosh, Dave. No need to use offensive language. I get your point. You are in favour of a Tesco. Thank you!


    • Tesco’s slick PR machine must be delighted to receive Dave’s well-argued support.
      Isn’t it interesting how how some people can’t get involved in something like this (when there are arguments both ways) without resorting to personal abuse?


  10. Freedom of Speech

    Playing your music til the early morn
    When the sun is on its way
    Whilst we’re lying in our beds looking all forlorn
    How long you gonna stay?

    Please, squatters, please piss off back home
    I don’t like you anymore
    I can’t wait til the day when the baliffs come
    & Tescos build their store

    Wearing combat shorts and anarchist tats
    You look like a bunch of plonkers
    Camping out on the roof of a bunch of flats
    You must be raving bonkers

    Jeez, squatters, jeez just leave this spot
    Go do something constructive
    Coz the life that you lead inside your squat
    Is nothing but destructive

    The PRSC – what a load of old bull
    You’ve all got London accents
    Our community fucking hates you all
    Burn Burn inside of your tents!

    Even if you are from around these parts
    Who elected you our leaders?
    Clogging up the path with your household parts
    Ya fanny rot bottom feeders

    I supported you before when it all began
    But now I urge it all to stop
    It’s impossible to beat the Tesco man
    And who cares? It’s a fucking shop!

    Leave, squatters, leave please heed my song
    Give up this lame endeavour
    You belong on the doll with your homemade bong
    Stay away from us forever


  11. Oh dear – more offensive language.

    It is always good to see creativity (poem) and different opinions – but what I do not understand is why a different opinion (ie the pro-Tesco point-of-view) has to come with rudeness.

    Anyway, sorry to hear about the loud music from the squat. That is hard to put up with. I can see that.

    But there is also loud music from other music venues along the same stretch of road ie The Croft etc.

    If there is any more offensive language ie name-calling and swear words, I will have to delete or modify the comment so if you want to make a point, please say it nicely!

    Thank you.


  12. Elisabeth, if you’re moderating this page, fair enough to you for being democratic enough to post clearly opposing views to your own . However, taking a patronizing approach to local residents who were clearly very much against this complete non-issue and having their lives disrupted by these activists won’t score you brownie points in BS6, far from it.

    The Croft and other local venues clearly have a license for noise , etc, which can be revoked by the council for non-compliance. This lot didn’t, and clearly didn’t give a jot for people living near by. Green politics are still a minority issue for the vast majority of people, though their activities often attract people best described as anarchists. We’ve seen it all on the news at various times. It doesn’t warm people with a day job to the cause, does it?

    As you can see, a lot of people who actually LIVE near this site got really peed off with what was going on in the old jesters, and the ludicrous comments about ‘alternative’ use were, frankly, being laughed at. Silly leftist student nonsense. A clean new Tesco is just not an issue when there’s so many more newsworthy causes going on in the world, and frankly a lot of the anti-sentiment smelt like a form of green propaganda. Stokes Croft needs real investment, and I hope that some of the buildings nearby become successful businesses, paying taxes. I wouldn’t even mind a Starbucks here if it created footfall by people with cash in their pockets for nearby shops.

    Be honest Elisabeth, you can’t compare what was going on here with the suffragettes. It would be like you comparing yourself to Martin Luther King. It’s just Tesco, for gods sake. Let’s hope that these people weren’t shipped in from outside either, that would be just plain offensive. You should be thankful nobody fell off the roof, or passers by didn’t get injured by something like an ironing board falling on them.

    The squat/illegal occupation was, quite frankly, pathetic.


  13. I too found the dissenting voices on this post were quite offensive. I wondered why these views could not be expressed more calmly. Pity, because Dave made a valid (I have no idea if true) point about the noise. Noise of course can be generated by the indigenous population as well, and is not confined to licensed premises. I trust he spoke to the people disturbing his sleep to explain they were doing so.

    I am not clear why anyone would believe that anyone objecting to yet another (20th?) Tesco in Bristol must be a student and “leftist” , or, indeed, why either word should be applied as an insult. As to “left” and “right”, the proliferation of Tescos and Tesco owned land is also anti competition.

    I am very pleased that the protest took place , highlighting the planning application which consultation had been very limited. It focussed very clearly strong feelings.

    It was also refreshing and encouraging to see passion usually directed at Jordan (Katie Price not the middle eastern country) or the X factor.

    One of the attractions of much of Bristol are its various independant shops. Independant shops sustain choice, quality and vibrancy. And they do pay taxes.

    Well done for putting these important issues in the news.


  14. Dave said:

    ‘It’s just Tescos for God’s sake’.

    I thought that was precisely the point of the protest.

    Do we really want each stage of the food and retailing industry in the hands of a handful of multinationals? Is that in anyone’s interests but their own? Remember, there are several Tesco Metros within a few hundred metres of their proposed site.

    Take a look at Robert Kenner’s documentary film Food, Inc if that is what you want – you might change your mind.

    This protest is like many protest movements. They start with so-called extremists and eventually become a way of thinking that no-one seriously questions.

    Thanks for your blog and I agree that there’s no really no reason to resort to offensive language if you disagree with any point of view. All its use does is to diminish your point of view.


  15. Another film worth watching is Pig Business by Tracy Worcester – it shows how Tesco sources meat from animal factories in countries with lower welfare standards than the UK.

    The Bristol Green Party is showing it on Thursday pm at 7pm at its HQ in Great George St.


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