We spoke to students in the City Centre halls who watched the riots from their windows
‘It felt like each man for themselves’
Following last night’s protests outside Bridewell Police Station, students in the opposite New Bridewell accommodation were left feeling worried for their safety as the events played out right outside their windows.
Students living in the block witnessed police and protestor violence, multiple fires and crowds of people gathering at street level. With such a heavy police presence, the riots could be seen from The Courtrooms accommodation too.
The students who watched it unfold from storeys above told The Bristol Tab that they felt trapped and afraid.
‘I felt very scared when the van set on fire in case it was going to blow up’
Wiktoria, a student in New Bridewell, told The Bristol Tab: “I felt quite scared and I felt like I couldn’t leave the accommodation to go anywhere sadly, also I felt very scared when the van set on fire in case it was going to blow up”.
Some students in New Bridewell were able to witnessed the riot from their kitchen window, which looked down onto the intersection where the events were taking place. Others watched as armed police marched past their bedroom windows.
Arri, who lives in The Courtrooms, told us: “I was definitely worried for my safety and security as I live right in the middle of it all.
“It was very loud and there were floods of police trapping people in towards the end of the night – which I saw in many people’s stories on Snapchat. Delivery drivers were trapped, our favourite restaurant’s windows were trashed.
“It’s exciting to see crazy stuff happening around you, especially when our day to day mundane routines are so repetitive…but after all the rioters leave – we still have to live here.”
‘I’ve heard nothing from the university. I’ve seen zero security and, if anything, it felt like each man for themselves’
Despite an email from Pro Vice-Chancellor Sarah Purdy thanking the efforts of security teams for “protecting our students and residences from intrusion”, Arri told The Bristol Tab that she “heard nothing from the university” and saw “zero security”. She added, “if anything…it felt like each man for themselves”.
In response to this, A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We were all shocked by the violent scenes that unfolded yesterday and acknowledge how frightening and unsettling it was for those who live in one of the city centre residences nearby.
“We have reached out to those students directly to offer support if they need it. On site staff at the residences were on hand to ensure everyone was kept safe, and the buildings remained secure. Protestors did not try to gain entry and there was no damage.
“We stand with our Mayor and Bristol City Council in disgust at the minority of protestors who turned a peaceful protest into a violent ending where police officers were injured, and property was damaged.
“We encourage students to reach out to our wellbeing services if they have been affected by these issues.”
Students were forced to look out for one another by giving updates in group chats and warning each other to stay inside. There was also a sense of anger as another resident, Ely, told us: “When the protests turned violent I firstly felt disappointed as they had within a matter of seconds undermined everything the protest was about.
“Of course a fear of being caught in the crossfire ensued. As someone who has been in many similar situations in the past (although on the other side), I know how quickly they can escalate and we hurried to get out of there.”