LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) – Police arrested 15 people in the western English city of Bristol on Friday after masked protesters hurled missiles at officers in the latest clashes stemming from the location of a new Tesco (TSCO.L) supermarket.
Several police officers were treated in hospital after violence flared in the Stokes Croft neighbourhood, home to groups of squatters and scene of clashes a week ago.
There has been simmering tension in the area over the siting of a new Tesco Express mini-supermarket, with many locals opposed to the world’s number three retailer moving in. Police said a number of protesters donned masks and began throwing bottles and rocks in the early hours of the morning as a peaceful demonstration degenerated and a splinter group broke away and headed towards the city centre. “It is very disappointing that a number of them were clearly intent on inciting trouble and committing criminal acts of disorder,” Assistant Chief Constable Rod Hansen said.
“This included breaking down residential walls and removing roof tiles to use as missiles, lighting fires, setting up barricades in the road and daubing graffiti throughout the area,” he added.
“We took swift and robust action to try to prevent further violence and damage to property.”
Nine people were arrested last week after fighting following a police raid on a squat opposite the Tesco store.
Tesco condemned the violence and said it was not directly targeted at the company.
“It’s very sad that a handful of individuals have once again turned against police and the local community,” it said in a statement.
“Last night’s violence in Stokes Croft and beyond underlines that this is not an anti-Tesco protest, our store is not even open,” it added.