Seven police injured after sick street parties celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher turn into riots
Seven police were injured – one seriously – as violence erupted at a street party to ‘celebrate’ the death of Baroness Thatcher.
Trouble flared after midnight when a rowdy 200-strong crowd refused police requests to disperse from Easton, Bristol.
Dozens of officers donned riot gear and used shields and batons as they were pelted with bottles, cans and rubbish.
Wheelie bins were set on fire by the mob and a police car was damaged by the flying missiles.
Some of the injured police needed hospital treatment and one male officer was still detained today with a neck injury.
One man was arrested for violent disorder and it took police more than two hours to restore calm.
It was not until 3am that most of the police units sent to the scene were stood down.
The party had started outside the Chelsea Inn in Easton, which is one of Bristol’s poorest and multi-cultural neighbourhoods.
The air was thick with cannabis smoke as revellers toasted the death of the Iron Lady, chanting; “Maggie Thatcher, Maggie Thatcher, she’s not living anymore. She’s not living anymore.”
Some people drank champagne while others walked around in Thatcher masks and one man dressed up as the former PM.
Sound systems were set up in the street to fuel the party atmosphere and the trouble broke out when police tried to stop the music.
Unemployed Julian Styles, 58, who was made redundant from his factory job in 1984, said: “I’ve been waiting for that witch to die for 30 years.
“Tonight is party time. I’m drinking one drink for every year I’ve been out of work.”
Police Chief Inspector Mark Jackson said: “It seemed to be a street party which people had pulled together in relation to the death of Baroness Thatcher.
“It occurred during the evening and was just a normal peaceful party but at about half past ten it expanded somewhat and there was 150 to 200 people gathered in the street.
“They had set fire to bins and had loud music playing and were being generally quite unruly.
“As you can imagine, the local residents were quite upset by this and wanted something done about it.
“They were asked by officers to end the party and turn the music off but that unfortunately just led to hostilities and officers were pelted with bottles and cans.
“So far it appears seven officers were injured. One of them is still in hospital receiving treatment.”
Officers were back at the scene this morning carrying out house-to-house inquiries and examining CCTV footage of the unrest.
Avon & Somerset police said they had been alerted to the party beforehand and put sufficient resources in place to monitor it.
A spokeswoman said: “We had a sizeable presence to keep an eye on the event and no reinforcements were needed.
“The incident continued for more than a couple of hours but it was dealt with by the officers already there.”
One local resident said around 50 police in riot gear were called to quell the hostilities.
The 42 year-old, who asked not to be named, said: “I was trying to drive home around 10.30 when I found the road blocked.
“A crowd of people had pulled loads of industrial bins across the road to block it off.
“There was an awful lot of noise, music was blaring out and there was dancing in one area and people were shouting slogans.
“There were some fireworks and others were still arriving in camper vans and it was all good-natured at that point.
“But around midnight it started to get louder and louder as people drank more and more.
“I’d already seen one fire in a litter bin and I saw another on the pavement.
“I’d tried to go to bed but there was no way I was going to be able to sleep so I put my jeans on and went outside to see what was happening.
“By this time a line of riot police with full shields had formed at the bottom of the road.
“There was a load of partygoers confronting them and throwing things at them – bottles, bins, For Sale signs, flower pots, plastic pallets – anything they could get their hands on.
“The police just stood and took it all and another police line was formed on the other side of the crowd.
“The two lines started slowly moving together to corral the crowd and very slowly people started to leave.
“Things didn’t really quieten down until 3 or 3.30am and there was glass everywhere – the place was left in a real mess.”