Monday, 19 September 2011

Media, Dale Farm - near Billericay in south east England - Hundreds of anarchists turned Europe’s largest illegal traveller site into a fortress

Hundreds of anarchists turned Europe’s largest illegal traveller site into a fortress on Sunday night to repel bailiffs in what they say will be the “Battle of Basildon”. --- Menacing activists, wearing scarves over their faces, launched “Operation Lockdown” to stop the authorities from entering Dale Farm on Monday. ---- The huge metal gates at the front of the site were sealed shut and every other entry point was heavily fortified with high metal fencing, barbed wire, gas cylinders, car tyres and old washing machines. -- Piles of bricks have been placed behind each barricade, prompting fears they could be used as weapons when the bailiffs arrive this morning. ---- And during several “war meetings” on Sunday, the leaders of the protesters gave rabble-rousing speeches to an excited mob whose ranks have been swelled by a “foreign legion” of activists at the site in Crays Hill, Essex. Swedish Marxists and German campaigners, as well as British university students, are among those who are planning to chain themselves to the fences to frustrate the bailiffs.

Travellers have surrounded their caravans with lethal gas canisters last night and said they would lock themselves in their homes when the bailiffs arrived.

One woman said she would only leave Dale Farm “in a body bag”.

One anarchist said: “It’s going to be brutal and it’s going to be bloody. We are calling it the Battle of Basildon. We will fight off the bailiffs with everything we have. They are not going to get through our defences.”

Protest groups used internet forums to urge members to go to the camp. One message read: “Get down to Dale Farm as soon as possible and bring black clothing and balaclavas.”

On Sunday night representatives of Basildon Council tried to meet travellers at Dale Farm to negotiate a peaceful 11th-hour solution. But anarchists manning the front gate refused to allow them on to the site.

With no direct line of communication with the travellers, the council fears the anarchists are now “calling the shots”.

Essex Police say up to 2 000 activists from 30 groups will arrive at the six-acre plot near Basildon. Riot officers from other forces including the Metropolitan Police, Thames Valley, Norfolk and Suffolk will be on standby, but Essex Police declined to say how many officers were involved in the multi-million pound operation to evict 400 people.

Chief Superintendent Tim Stokes, who is in charge of the operation, said: “We have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. We could face violent disorder, a drawn-out stand-off or peaceful resistance.

“We believe there will be people on the site who are intent on violence and we must police them rigorously and robustly. There are travellers on the site who value the presence of the supporters but there are also some who are fearful of them.”

Basildon Council’s bailiffs have occupied a neighbouring farm and will use heavy machinery to smash the barricades.

Mother-of-three Kathryn Flynn, who has lived on Dale Farm for 10 years, said: “I’m moving to my uncle’s yard... I don’t want my children to go through this. I’m scared of what the bailiffs will do.”

But Mary McCarthy said: “I’ve faced constant evictions throughout my life and now I’m determined to stay put.”

Basildon Council leader Tony Ball said: “We now have no line of communication to the Dale Farm residents. We are very concerned that tension has increased and it may now make our job of clearing the site in a safe and orderly manner even more difficult.” - Daily Mail