Six days ago took place a significant and polemic riot in STokes Croft street in Bristol, UK, against the recent opening of a new Tesco express store. In a neighbourhood where the local production and local commerce is a stamp and a believe, the big supermarket chain company, opened a new store on the 15th of April, with a significant part of the local community against it. During the last year, demos, protests, and public signs like art graffiti have been representing the dissatisfaction around the opening. An online campaign – No Tesco in Stokes Croft – has been motivating and discussing the issue. Indy media and independent media productions published on Youtube have been spreading voice.
However Tesco opened anyway, and 6 days after a riot took place in front of Tesco store, where the police intervention marked a stong presence, and Tesco’s window was broken. The street was closed down, but behavior of discontentement and revenge by demonstrators continued until later 3am. The store ended up being closed until now for health & safety issues and a desicion about the store’s future is being made by the end of this week.
On the web the event and the all debate has been active in the last days. Various youtube videos filmed by contributors, enthusiasts or observers of the riot were uploaded, to relate and show how it really was. Mainstream media has been critiqued of reporting just on side of the story – the violence agains police officers.
Today at 7.30pm it was organized and advertised on facebook a public film screening – Occasional Cinema Riot Special – showing youtube footage about the riot events.
(advert on facebook)
The screening was confiscated by the police, arguing it was “an unlicensed event”. The gathering was dispersed to maintain public safety and reduce the risk of public disorder, according to the police. The event was moved to a privately property.
I have been all there, in the park, looking for the second location, being blocked by the police to not cross a certain area on the way of the private house, and inside the property actually watching the screenings. Probably more than 100 people were there, hanging in the house’s garden. We all, a big group of people were seated on the grass watching a series of youtube videos projected on the white wall, related to what happened around Tesco . Citizen jounalism, comic approaches, harder images or general ones. The audience was alive and reacting a lot in this environment.
I then realised.. this is citizen Youtube Cinema, and it really works. Fresh real content, made by participants shown to everyone for free, and definitely in a peaceful and positive event. Actually everyone can access it from home online, but still people got together and watched it as a group, interacting, commenting and enjoying together, and that is the cinema experience, and Youtube could reach it.
The question might be, what make this work and progress on youtube? And I guess the answer is the type of content. It has to be humanly strong, a little activist and get people through the sense of change or contribution to a local cause. This seems to be in the roots of “call for action” online, and Youtube has growing as a tool… What’s the future and consequences?
People live situations, upload online content about it, share it, comment it, discuss it and bring it again to the offline world resulting in some public event or follow up happening. In this case the event was stopped by the police, which can show how strong Youtube content’ influence has turning to be..