It was late afternoon before along chain of 140 rumbling, wheezing buses, vans, ambulances and cars started to curl out of Savernake Forest towards Stonehenge, most unaware of the High Court Injunctions banning them from going near their planned destination. Near the Stones the road was blocked and the convoy diverted down a narrow country lane. This road was also blocked. Suddenly a group of police officers came forward and started to break vehicle windows with their truncheons. The Convoy trapped, swung their vehicles into a field, crashing through a hedge.
For the next four hours there was an ugly stalemate. The Convoy started trying to negotiate, offering to abandon the festival and return to Savernake Forest or leave Wiltshire altogether. The police refused to negotiate and told them they could all surrender or face the consequences.
At ten past seven the ‘battle’ began. In the next half hour, the police operation "became a chaotic whirl of violence."
"At one point, I saw a youth inside a bus, surrounded by policeman, trying to give himself up. He climbed out of a broken window and found himself falling on a sea of policeman who - only a few feet in front of me - were leaning over each other to get a blow. I saw the young mans glasses swiped from his face and his front teeth break under the raining blows."
"Above us, a police helicopter, circling overhead, barked down encouragement from a loud hailer: ‘You’re doing a great job. This is the way they like it."
"The occupants pleaded to be allowed to leave. The windows were smashed by the police and occupants were dragged out through a storm of truncheons; broken heads, broken teeth, broken spectacles. Officers started to climb through the broken windows, lashing out on all sides with their sticks. Reporters screamed at the police to calm down."
The Earl of Cardigan, secretary of the Marlborough Conservative Association, was one of the witness to the events: He saw a baby lifted out of its cot "It was covered in glass from head to foot."
Four hundred and twenty people were arrested - the largest mass arrest of civilians for hundreds of years - and taken to holding cells throughout the south of England. Travellers homes were systematically looted, smashed and burnt. Seven dogs were destroyed by the RSPCA.
One women who drove a young girl back to her bus said: ‘Everything inside the bus was broken: her guitar and her camera were smashed, the posters had been torn off the wall, there was food and clothes all piled up together in the middle of the floor. Even the yoghurts had been stabbed and spilled everything. The poor girl just couldn’t stop crying: "This is my home; they’ve smashed my home."
The convoy had been portrayed by the media as a marauding army of crazed hippies. After the ‘battle’ the BBC showed a row of ordinary household implements described as "weapons gathered up". On ITN, fleeing drivers became virtually potential murderers. Reporter Kim Sabidos commentary was replaced by a voice-over and some of the most horrific footage disappeared from the ITN library.
So why did the authorities react with such ferocity spending £5 million in the process? Since the seventies more and more people were taking to the road "The number of people who were living on buses had been doubling every year for four years. It was anarchy in action, and it was seen to be working by so many people that they wanted to be a part of it too."
Those in authority are scared of us coming together- to sing, dance and be merry. They’d much rather us at home watching TV, shopping on a Saturday, roast on a Sunday; eyes closed, ears shut, whilst the whole shit collapses round our ears…
But don’t listen to us – you have to see it, feel it. Get out there wide-eyed and experience life… its there for the taking.
Speaking yesterday from her double decker at Stonehenge on the 10th Anniversary of the Beanfleld, veteran ‘Decker Lyn’ said: "All I remember is the noise and the breaking of vehicles. They trashed our vehicle but that didn’t stop us. We’ve carried on doing festivals ever since?"
MASS ARREST AT OPEN CAST MINE
"Greedy bastards digging huge holes in our countryside, creating a massive crater, causing noise, air and water pollution, destroying whole eco-systems forever then leaving their rubbish behind."
Heavy-handed coppers did the first mass arrest under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) when nineteen people from Leeds Earth First! were arrested under "aggravated trespass". The protestors had gone to HJ Banks open cast mine with the intention of closing it down for the day. Once they got on site the police arrested everyone - including people with press passes! They were then kept in police cells for 12 hours before being arrested.
Sections 68 of the CJA makes trespass an imprisonable offence carrying fines of up to £3,000 or a three month prison sentence.
· Leeds EF! want to hear from anyone who has experienced the use of ‘quick-cuffs’. These are the brand new handcuffs which are self-tightening and inflict immense pain. 0113 262 9365. Liberty and Amnesty International are looking into the human rights implications of the new cuffs
Over in Cardiff, Earth Firsters! have set up a protest camp on an 880 open cast site owned by Keltic Energy. The area near Glyn Neath is rich in folklore and known locally as ‘the Valley of the Witch’. The mature oak woodland and water meadows will be destroyed along with a Special Site of Scientific Interest which is home to the protected Marsh Fritillary Butterfly. The companies solution to this is to dig up the water meadows and tranport it in 8 by 4 foot chunks, to a nearby site. They then plan to move it all back again in 7 years! Protestors have stopped work for the past 2 days and there is plenty of local support but they need more people – as well as climbing gear, tarps and ropes. Construction News have also rung to ask if people are now abandoning road protests for open cast mine sites! 01222 383 363
David Bowen was in remand for nicking a pair of curtains when he was framed for the Strangeways Prison protest uprising in 1990 (see SchNEWS 20) and subsequently got 9 years. He escaped at one point but was re-captured and now faces trial again. Please show support by coming to his trial. 12th June, 9:30 am onwards Nottingham Crown Court, 60 Carnal St.
Jim Chambers still on remand for alleged criminal damage to a road construction site. PV 2504 HMP Pentonville Prison, Caledonian road London N7 8TT
Chris Cole inside for 6 months for breaking an injunction against British Aerospace PB 0538 HMP Pentonville also
Tracy Hart on remand for trumped up charges of criminal damage to the perimeter fence at Menwith Hill spy base in Yorkshire. Low Newton Prison Brasside, Durham DHl 5SD
Party and Protest
The first travellers to be charged under the Criminal Justice Act have won their case because the prosecution failed to establish who owned the land they were parked on. The Dengin travellers decided to dig in their heels to hold a piece of land up in Invagarry, Scotland and keep their children safe for the winter months. Pail, one of the travellers said "I would advise anyone charged under the CJA to fight it all the way. Win or lose you make a point and keep it in the public eye."
* Free festivals in Scotland seem to be going front strength to strength. The other Saturday at Lethan an estimated 4-5,000 partied. Go for it!
crap arrest of the week
For handing out a leaflet on aroma therapy to a Royal. A well-known Brighton man, who dresses entirely in turquoise and dances every sunny day, near the fountain by the Royal Pavilion, was arrested and charged after trying to hand the leaflet to Prince Charles on his visit last week. A scuffle ensued. SECURITY SCARE!! screamed the papers. Reach for the rescue remedy…
Call SchNEWS with your crap arrest!
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