Dragon Network: Environmental Paganism
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Past Campaigns: Newbury

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Newbury was the most publicized 'roads vs people' campaign to date. Every time we manage to get people talking about the issues & thinking about what is at stake, we win a battle.

Hundreds of trees were destroyed by this absurd project, but the point has been made more clearly than ever before - People of every class, race, age & political affiliation are prepared to act to stop this mad rush to tarmac the country. Newbury saw a delightful diversity of campaigners. The central core of activists will always be at the heart of a campaign, for it is their experience & commitment that holds the network together. But standing & fighting beside them were people from many backgrounds who came together for a common purpose: To stop the road.

For many it was the first time they had ever protested about anything. The destruction around Newbury finally made them get up from the telly & act.

Many of these newcomers were astonished at the aggressive police tactics. In my experience, most of the police are reasonable most of the time. But there are times when through circumstance, bad policing or sheer bloody mindedness, they become unreasonable, aggressive & menacing. A few of them seem to lose control when they are under stress & abuse their considerable power. Others act like automata, refusing to reason or even acknowledge you exist.

This was just such day. The contractors wanted to bring in 'cherry pickers', huge cranes carrying platforms to reach high inaccessible places, like tree tops. We wanted to stop them for as long as possible, so occupied the route onto the site. This was a Public Footpath, so we felt within our rights to walk on it - en mass if we wanted to! The police saw it differently, & brought in horses to force us to move. A nasty few hours followed, with the police getting increasingly aggressive in the way they used the horses to move us. Women with young children, old people, & others who were tired, frightened or weak were pushed around by police on foot & horseback. There were screams & calls to 'stop pushing!' But the police effort to clear the path went on. One woman, clearly new to the campaign, who I took to be from a middle-class Tory background, was in tears. She was crying to me that she couldn't believe that the police could behave like this. Part of me thought, "Welcome to the real world", but I held my tongue & tried to calm her down.

Photos and text by Adrian Harris