I have recently returned from the police state that was this year’s Climate Camp. Somehow, despite being stopped and searched six times, sitting on gates staring at police for hours each day and being pushed around by riot cops, I managed to enjoy it immensely. Something amazing happens when hundreds of people stand together and resist the violent oppressive force of the state. That feeling of solidarity has given me a new faith in the power of people.
“We’re people too”, said one policeman to me.
“Yes, of course you are. But you’re not here representing yourself as a human being. You’re here representing the state, and our experience of the state is not a positive one. Take off your uniform and you will be most welcome.”
My inroduction to the camp this year was awakening at 5am, only three hours after arriving from a long day of hitchhiking, to the sounds of people shouting – “police on site! Everyone get up! If you want to have a climate camp then you’re going to have to defend it!” I dragged myself from my slumber and trudged in the direction I could see people running in. At the gate a scuffle was ensuing between protestors and a line of police in full riot gear trying to barge their way onto site. A red van had it’s windows smashed and tires let down by the police, who claimed it was an abandoned vehicle. Apart from the fact that somebody had been sleeping in the van at the time, there were now people on top of the van, inside the van, beneath the van and a couple of hundred people surrounding the van, all chanting in unison – “This is not an abandoned vehicle! This is not an abandoned vehicle!”
One man shouts down at the police from on top of the van – “This is the least abandoned vehical in England!” to laughter and applause.
The police know it’s not abandoned. What they want is unfettered vehicle access to the field. A few days previously, police vehicle rampaged around site, seizing dangerous items such as plumming equipment, wood for the toilets, childrens crayons and board games. This red van and a couple of cars are now blocking the most obvious access route.
A few hours on the gate may be tiresome, especially after only three hours sleep, but it really makes you realise how compassionate and organised the movement can be. After a couple of hours, more people arrived with trays and carts full of hot tea, coffee, porridge, fruit, cake and all sorts of other goodies. Large bottles of water, suncream and rescue remedy were passed around the crowd and cries of “anyone up the front there not had cake yet?” could be heard. Things like that give me a warm feeling inside.
One thing I loved about the camp this year was the amount of local support. Walking through a nearby town on our way there we were stopped by plenty of locals.
“Hey, you going to that camp? Yeah? Nice one! Wouldn’t mind getting down there myself – I hate that fucking power station!”
One guy actually worked there.
“Listen, you guys do anything to my car and I’ll fucking ‘ave you, but smash that place up man coz I fucking hate it!” He then offered to sell me his pass for £50. I only had a tenner and politely declined.
A fair few locals joined us onsite, some taking part in meetings, helping with the running of the camp, even getting pepper-sprayed by the cops on the frontline and giving media interviews. Going for a walk near the end of the camp, I was stopped by an elderly lady who congratulated me and said how pleased she was that we were doing something. “It’s up to the younger generation now”, she said.
Well, whether we shut down the power station or not depends on which media you read. Some interesting ones to look at would be Indymedia, Schnews and also check out some of the stuff on Youtube, VisionOnTV, and of course the camp’s own website.