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