For more than two years Bristol and neighbouring areas has seen around 100 incidents of guerrilla-style sabotage that has resulted in zero arrests and a local police so frustrated they have now put out a reward for the capture of one man who they believe is responsible for at least two of these incidents. In doing this it is alleged that the police, operating under the name Operation Rhone, also hope to divide the city’s alternative scene.
The incidents range from attacks on railway lines to attacks on magistrates courts, churches, military bases, offices of politicians, a firearms centre, police stations, banks, multinational companies, a telecommunications mast and to car dealerships. It is believed that the August 2013 attack on the firearms centre – claimed by a group calling itself the Angry Foxes Cell on the website 325.nostate – caused damage of around £16 million. Other incidents have been claimed on the 325.nostate website by ‘Random Anarchists’ and ‘FAI Torches in the Night/Earth Liberation Front’. None of the incidents has resulted in harm to persons.
Until recently the police have played down the attacks in the hope that lack of publicity would reduce their frequency. But that hasn’t worked, hence the reward for the person they believe is behind at least two of the attacks – Huw ‘Badger’ Norfolk – and press releases and the subsequent shock-horror stories in the media. The police did the same in the lead-up to the London Olympics in 2012, issuing press releases that saw scare stories published in the tabloids claiming that the games would be a target of the FAI. It is often the case that when such stories are published they also provide a pretext for police to conduct ‘fishing expeditions’ (i.e. raids). This has happened recently in the Bristol area, particularly on houses and squats occupied by ‘known anarchists’. However, rather than deter any support for these ‘urban guerrillas, the raids appear to have had the opposite effect with a group of local anarchists even picketing the HQ of the local police CID and special operations squad. Websites of local anarchist groups – specifically the Bristol Anarchist Federation and the Bristol Defendant Solidarity – have also published statements condemning these police tactics and stressing that the local alternative scene will not be intimidated by them.