n the first night of disorder in Bristol, after a peaceful demonstration against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill turned violent, a police van was set on fire. The next day a theory spread on social media that it had been abandoned by the police deliberately as a trap, to encourage demonstrators to vandalise it, so that they could be arrested. Or something.
Unfortunately, this is the kind of conspiratorial thinking that swirls around events of this kind. So it is little wonder that the third night of clashes should be seen so differently from each side.
From the protesters’ side, the common view would seem to be that a peaceful protest against proposed legislation to give the police excessive powers to clamp down on protest was attacked by police using excessive force. The story is a circular parable of freedom versus brutality.