Tag Archives: Big Society

Dale Farm: “They’ll have to take me out in a bodybag”



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HEADLINE: Dale Farm residents voice final plea

Sunday 19 September

With 24 hours until the eviction of Dale Farm, residents voice a final plea for an alternative site to move onto as they face forced eviction from their homes. Members of the community, joined by local and international supporters, are preparing to defend the Traveller community that bought the former scrap yard in Essex a decade ago.

Many of the 87 families on the site have nowhere to go and are in a last minute struggle to make provisions for children and older people about to be thrown out of their homes when bailiffs Constant & Co, reputed for the aggressive and violent removal of Traveller families, move in on Monday.

The eviction plans, fought for ten years in numerous legal battles, have been widely condemned, including by the United Nations, Amnesty International and an all party parliamentary group.  The plans are considered a breach of multiple rights of the families involved including the failure of authorities to find the community appropriate alternative accommodation.

Kathryn Flynn, mother of three and resident at Dale Farm for ten years said “I’m moving on to my uncle’s yard on the other side for tonight because I don’t want my children to go through this. I’m scared of what the bailiffs will do. They smash up our trailers – our homes. I don’t want my children to be in danger, so we’re moving them. But we’ve got nowhere to go after Monday. We don’t know what’s going to happen to us. Our children went to school for the last day on Friday. I don’t know what to tell them about tomorrow.”

Fears of the conduct of bailiffs are not unfounded. Video footage showing the bailiffs aggressively removing Travellers from their homes and destroying their possessions were highlighted by the Judge in the 2008 legal case [1]. On Saturday 17 September the Council admitted that it was aware that Constant and Co were using the word ‘pikey’, classed as a racist term of abuse since 2007, to attract people to the company’s website [2].

Activists and residents have been preparing defences to hold the site. Many have a sense of wider responsibility to defend the rights of Travellers who have been consistently discriminated against for centuries. John McCarthy, a Dale Farm resident for ten years said: “I’m standing here for the rights of Travellers. I’m here baring my heart to the press every day because this has got to change. My children can’t go through what we went through. We’re treated worse than any other community. They think it’s ok to break up a whole community and to throw us all on the roadside. To tell us we can’t come into shops, to pick on our kids, to treat us like we’re hardly human. We need to stand up against this prejudice. We need the right to live in peace. It’s not much to ask, to be allowed to live on an old scrap yard as a community.”

The Council has declared that they will begin their assault on Dale Farm on Monday morning.

Notes to Editors

[1] Judge Justice Collins comments in 2008 (1) “I have seen video footage which shows how the bailiffs employed by the council acted. The conduct was unacceptable and the evictions were carried out in a fashion which inevitably would have led to harm of those affected.”
[2] http://politicalscrapbook.net/2011/09/constant-and-co-dale-farm

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Despite years of legislation designed to tackle racism and inequality, Gypsies and Travellers continue to be failed by society, argues Lord Eric Avebury, chair of the all-party parliamentary group for Gypsy Roma Travellers. “There is still so much viciousness directed against Gypsies and Travellers,” he says. “They are treated in a way that people wouldn’t dream of treating black people, for example. It just seems to be an acceptable form of racism.”


Government support of Basildon’s campaign to oust 86 families from Dale Farm – it has promised £4.65m towards the £18m cost of the eviction – puts the UK closer to France and Italy in terms of unwillingness to tolerate similarly marginalised communities such as the Roma, he adds. “If the government is uncompromising, then of course that is a policy signal for the rest of the UK. Ending up with a situation where these people are chased from one town to another is not a valid government policy.”


“They want us to say we don’t want to be Gypsies any more, we want to be like you – but if we lose this we lose a history, a way of life, a whole culture,” says Senga, looking out of her caravan window at the site. “We are not asking for any handouts, just the right to live on the land we have paid for. We are such a proud people. It’s hard for us to say we need help – but for the love of God we need help now.”

— Alexandra Topping, “Dale Farm evictions signal end of Traveller lifestyle, say Gypsies,” guardian.co.uk, 18 September 2011


The intervention of the UN in support of the Travellers, along with local churches and other outside agencies, has brought international media to Dale Farm, meaning the evictions will be closely scrutinised. But that will come as little comfort to the people here.

“Most of us were born in Britain, but we seem to have no rights at all. It feels like we are the American Indians in a cowboy film. Instead of ‘don’t go near those Indians, they’ll scalp you,’ it’s ‘don’t go near those gypsies, they’ll steal everything you’ve got and threaten your way of life,'” said Elby Culligan.

One nine-year-old boy added: “the teachers at school keep crying. My aunties keep crying. We’ll just have to hide when the bailiffs come. Then they’ll go away again and leave us be.”

Last night the number of non-Travellers going into Camp Constant had grown, and several could be seen preparing banners and a makeshift barricade of pallets and metal poles at the entrance road to Dale Farm. Rubber tyres were being piled up around the camp.

A police helicopter stayed overhead monitoring activities. Police were also posted at local train stations, looking out for any known anarchist troublemakers who might be turning up ahead of the evictions.

But if a siege mentality was settling over Camp Constant, the Travellers all insisted they did not wish to see the protests turn violent.

“It’s good of them [supporters] to come, but we”ll be looking out for them overstepping the mark,” said one man as he shook his fist at the helicopter.

— Tracy McVeigh, “Battle lines drawn as Dale Farm travellers brace for eviction face-off,” The Observer, 18 September 2011

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Filed under film and video, open letters, manifestos, appeals, racism, nationalism, fascism

How’s It Going with That (Classist, Racist, Neocolonialist) Neoliberal Austerity Thing?

Tottenham is ablaze.  Not for the first time in its history.  Not for the first time over police violence and killing either.  But nor is this is the first major riot since the Tories took office.  It may well be the first to make a serious impact on national politics, but remember the riots in Bristol and Lewisham.  The party of order expected this.  That is why the police handling of protests has been so provocative and brutal.  That is why ‘exemplary’ sentences have been handed out for minor protest offenses, with even Murdoch’s pie-man being given a custodial sentence.  The intention has been to show that the party of order can keep control throughout the coming battles.  I hope, with every fibre in my being, that they cannot.

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Because in Israel the colonial dynamic still predominates, and because the vast majority of Israeli workers have not begun to break with Zionism, and indeed many could reasonably claim to get some benefit from it, how these social antagonisms and elite fissures work out depends primarily on the regional context.  If the Arab Spring continues and radicalises, the weakening of Israel’s position, its usefulness to Washington, and its ability to sustain military policies that sections of its ruling class already find burdensome, then the prospects of major social struggles in Israel are increased.  If not, then I suspect the Israeli ruling class can resolve its difficulties at the expense of the Palestinians and take a further lurch down the road to some sort of fascism.

Moreover, the impending United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood in September imposes a deadline of sorts on the protesters. If Palestinians react by marching on Israeli army checkpoints to demand freedom, Israeli protesters will have to choose between losing internal support by siding with the Palestinians, or abandoning any claim of a pro-democracy agenda by siding with the Israeli soldiers charged with suppressing them. Before September comes, the protesters must first secure some more earthly achievements, like rent control in Israel’s larger cities, or perhaps, as the placards demand, even bring down Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition government. Only then could a sense of victory and democratic empowerment propel Israelis toward challenging the occupation, which remains the single greatest obstacle to social and political justice on either side of the Green Line.

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Filed under film and video, international affairs, protests, racism, nationalism, fascism, urban movements (right to the city)

“All of us must be Bryan Simpsons” (Defend the Right to Protest, UK)


Bryan Simpson – a university student facing charges for occupying Millbank against education cuts

City of Westminster Magistrates Court, 70 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2

Hearings of students including Alfie Meadows

Hearings of students including Bryan Simpson

MONDAY 4 July, 9AM
Hearing of Fortnum & Masons occupiers


The right to protest is under serious threat in Britain today.

The police are increasingly resorting to extreme tactics including kettling, mounted horse charges and battering protesters with extreme force.

The results have been horrific. For Alfie Meadows, a student on the anti-fees protests last year, this led to severe wounds to his head and emergency brain surgery to save his life. For Ian Tomlinson, an encounter with police on a demonstration proved to be fatal.

Peaceful activists have been targeted for arrest and arbitrary detention. 145 members of UK Uncut were arrested and charged for a sit-in at Fortnum and Mason during the mass TUC anti-cuts protest on 26 March. The extent of damage caused by them appears to have been one smashed chocolate rabbit. For this they have been charged with ‘aggravated trespass’ for which they could be sent to jail.

On the day of royal wedding, protesters and others celebrating an alternative party in Soho were arrested and detained on suspicion that they might be about to commit a ‘breach of the peace’. Here we are in an Orwellian world of ‘pre-crime’, arrested for something that you may do in the future.

We stand with all those who have been targeted by the police in recent months and those who are now facing jail terms simply for exercising their right to protest. The attack on Alfie Meadows, the Fortnum and Mason 145 and all the rest, is an attack on all of us and our democratic rights.

Encourage people to sign up to the Defend the Right to Protest petition and the petitions for Alfie Meadows and Bryan Simpson.

Build support for the campaign. Invite a Defend the Right to Protest speaker to your trade union or student union, campaign group or organisation. Pass a motion to affiliate to the campaign.

Contact us with ideas for future actions, or to let us know about any support you can give whether its web and press skills or just hours to dedicate to the campaign.

If you have been arrested or witnessed arrests or violent behaviour by the police please get in touch confidentially.


Editor’s Note. Thanks to the infinitely valuable Infinite Thought for the heads-up.

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Newcastle University Occupation: We Have Nothing to Hide


We will not be isolated. We will not be intimidated. We have nothing to hide.

Press release: Students step up action against the cuts

On Wednesday, students at the week-long Newcastle University Occupation stepped up their action in the defence of education.

As well as staging a sit-in at the King’s Gate building on the university campus, which resulted in the finance building being temporarily closed, they submitted an application to the Department for Education to turn their occupied space into a free school.

This non-violent direct action – the latest in a series against education cuts and soaring tuition fees- was a response to the Vice Chancellor’s refusal to meet the occupiers as a group in the occupied fine art building of the university.

Fifteen students marched into the new complex, mouths covered with tape, and lay in a line across the foyer. This was where they remained for two hours despite requests from university management to leave the building, which had been shut down for the duration of the protest.

Masashi Stokoe, one of the students involved in the protest, said, “we haven’t been able to speak to the Vice Chancellor as a group democratically. He says we don’t represent student opinion but the wave of protests throughout the country recently suggest otherwise, besides which we’re supported by our democratically elected Student Union”.

The group had their mouths symbolically gagged, as one of the students, Emily Clark, explained, “to show that we feel that our voices aren’t being heard”.

Highlighting the peaceful nature of the demonstration, history student, Francesca Scott, commented, “the management were trying to suggest that we were disrupting the business of students, but it was management that shut the building down. Also, when they started talking about disciplinary procedures, I felt pretty intimidated. We have a right to peacefully protest”.

Meanwhile, the students at the occupation have submitted a request to become a free school under new government proposals.

Nick Lamb commented, “the government has said that anyone who want to set a up a school should be able to. With this occupation we are using this space to promote an alternative idea of education, so we have taken the government up on its offer and are trying to ensure that we can continue providing an alternative educational programme. We await the department for education’s response”.

Jon Clark, a music student who was involved in the sit down demonstration summed up the overall mood of the protesters; “We are showing the management that we take the defence of education seriously. The occupation is not a glorified sleep over – we are prepared to take action”.

Editor’s Note. Thanks to the invaluable Comrade E., an alumnus of Northumbria University, for bringing this to our attention.

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