Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Could it happen again?

I write this post, as a Traveller and a Hippy.

It was the Solstice celebrations this week, over the weekend we camped up with a number of other friends and fellow travellers. We were out of the way, not close to local homes. We were clearing up after ourselves, as well as picking up after the tourists that came to stare at us. We were breaking no laws. We were merely parked up, chatting, laughing, cooking and sharing. We were peaceful and calm .....

So why did the local constabulary feel the need to harass us, repeatedly, frequently and in some cases aggressively. What did we do?? Nothing! Yet numerous times a day the police arrived and either drove or walked along the lines of vehicles, noting down number plates. More than once, as one police vehicle drove off, another appeared. the visits continued throughout the nights. Backed up of course by the force helicopter hovering overhead frequently. I've had reports that things up at Stonehenge were even worse, with officers giving drivers orders to park in a certain place, then another officer coming along moments later and ordering them away to yet another place, with a brusque 'can't park here'

My other half, spoke to a few of the police, one , when asked why he was taking our number plates, yet again, answered ' its orders, I've been ordered to do it, so I'm doing it' I asked him, aren't you curious? Don't you want to know? Why are you blindly following without thinking about this?

This particular officer, could not understand why we were so wound up.

Why were we? Why are we upset? Why, as we are doing no wrong, are we worrying about it?

The answer is simple. Operation Solstice aka The Battle of the Beanfield

In essence, on Jun 1st 1985, a convoy of travellers heading for Stonehenge, was attacked by the police. trapped and herded into a field, they had no way out. Then the police attacked. Men and women of all ages, pregnant women, mothers with babes in arms and toddlers clinging to their skirts, were attacked by the police. Beaten wioth truncheons, dragged through the broken windows of the living vehicles. Children were torn from their parents arms, the parents flung into police vans and driven to stations all over the UK. Many spent days in cells, unable to find out where their children were and if they were safe.

Ultimately Wiltshire Police were sued by individuals from the convoy. They won but the damages that were awarded soon disappeared in legal fees.

But that was all 26 yrs ago right? Surely the travelling community should be 'over it' by now?

Maybe they would be, if the attitude of the police had changed. In my dealings with the police since getting the truck, we have found that its roughly 50/50 good cop/bad cop. Some our cool, happy to chat and laugh with us. Some our arrogant, rude and aggressive, positively goading a reaction. Which they rarely get as most travellers are used to such attitudes and simply walk away.

But could their be a repeat of the Beanfield?

Frighteningly I have to say, I think there could be. As in 85. we are now living under a Tory gov't. As in 85, the media are allowed to print whatever they please, openly mis-portraying the travelling community, to turn public opinion. The police are being ever greater powers to prevent gatherings, ever greater powers to arrest on flimsy excuses, ever greater power to abuse their powers ...

It scares me. Let us hope I'm wrong, lets hope that the police will recruit only stable, controlled men and women, who will not misuse the powers given to them .....

Hope .. its all we do have