Expulsion : affrontements à Dale Farm (Essex) – 19 octobre 2011

Dale Farm: ‘They promised a peaceful eviction. This wasn’t peaceful’


Wednesday 19 October 2011 22.00 BST

Travellers describe how bailiffs and police arrived through barely-guarded back entrance to site, with violent clashes following

 An activist holds up a crucifix as a barricade burns during evictions from Dale Farm. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Protesters thought the barricade at Dale Farm was secure. Knowing that bailiffs could arrive at any time, a small band locked themselves to the gates – some with D-locks, others with chains looped through a bar sunk into a concrete-filled barrel – and waited for them to come.

But when the bailiffs did arrive, just as day began to break, they came unannounced, through the barely-guarded back of the site.

The eviction Basildon council had spent more than a decade fighting for had finally begun. By the end of it, and after violent clashes, the main barrier to the site had been cleared of protesters, paving the way for bailiffs to begin clearing the site – a process that could now take weeks.

As police first entered the site at 7am, protesters appeared to have been taken by surprise. Some threw missiles at officers, who stormed through barriers and wooden fences that were flimsy against their collective strength. Up to 150 officers in full riot gear charged onto the site, using Tasers against those that stood in their path. « They promised a peaceful eviction, but it wasn’t, » said Nora Sheridan, one of the residents still refusing to go. « It wasn’t peaceful at all. »

Others described protesters writhing on the floor due to electric shocks. Some said they had been shoved aside as the highly organised force moved forward.

Police – who confirmed two people had been Tasered in the dawn operation – then made their way to the site’s front gate, to which several protesters were locked. About 20 others were on scaffolding, though their numbers diminished throughout the day, with police arresting at least 11 people by the evening.

The eviction has been a long time in coming. After 10 years of legal wrangling, the Travellers finally lost their fight on Monday when a high court judge ruled they could not challenge a decision which said the eviction from the unauthorised area of Dale Farm – part of the site is legal – was proportionate and should go ahead.

Over the summer, this unauthorised area of Dale Farm, once home to 86 Traveller families, became more like a camp of war. Protesters moved in and set up « Camp Constant », and many resident Travellers decided to leave. By the time the bailiffs arrived around 50 protesters remained, and a similar number of Travellers. It was the protesters manning the barricades as the bailiffs arrived, people who had been planning for a siege.

But the force and efficiency of police left many in shock. Electricity supplies were cut early in the morning leaving some elderly residents without crucial medical equipment, according to protesters.Read more…

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~ par Alain Bertho sur 19 octobre 2011.

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