Raging - Top Tips for Wrecking Roadbuilding
· "Beat the Bulldozer" Pledges
· Route walks
· Public meetings and debates
· Social events
· Mailing lists
· Banners and flags
· The campaign office
· Phone trees
· Wish lists
· Getting the most from the media
· Press contacts and lists
· Media information packs
· Letters pages
· Bad press
· Local papers
· Council offices
· Environmental information regulations
· Company searches
· World Wide Web
· Contractors' offices
· Observation, photography and tailing
· Using the info
· Consulting engineers
· Private detectives
· Tree "surgeons" and chainsaw operators
· Bailiffs and Sheriff's Officers
· Local road supporters
· Contract award procedures
· Route monitoring
· Grid maps
· Off-route camps and accommodation
· Welcome centres
· Quartermasters, Quartermistresses and resource allocation
· Bicycles and vehicles
· Driver lists
· Bail addresses
· Legal briefings and bust cards
· Good lawyers
· Action observers
· Police Liaison
· Direct action training and preparation
· Emergency mailout
· Siting defences
· Establishing your camp
· Building tree defences
· Barricades trenches and tank traps
· Eviction of buildings
· Dealing with cherry pickers
· After eviction
· Thinking Strategically
· Stopping surveyors
· Days of action
· Targeting contractors off-site
· Bureaucrat baiting
· Shareholder actions
· Hunger strikes
· Filming on actions
· Criminal damage and the campaign
· Dealing with violence on actions
· Critical mass bicycle rides
· Car bouncing bonanza
· Coat loop lock-ons
· Arm tubes
· Scrap cars
· Smoke bombs
· Anti-quickcuff gauntlets
· General security
· Office security
· Computer and document security
· Mutual support
· Gender issues
· Living communally
· Common camp ailments
· Natural additions to your First Aid kit
· Wildlife and Countryside Protection Act 1981
· European Law
· Public processions and assemblies
· Some relevant police powers
· Getting arrested
· Bail conditions
· Preparing for trial
· Sentencing and penalties
· Not pay fines
· Prisoner support
· Seeking injunctions against them
· Police complaints
· Suing the police
· Contract work schedule
· Lamp post prussiking
· Compost toilets
· Phone tree structure
· Wish lists
· Press releases
· Grid map
· Legal briefing
· Bust card
· Short "if you are arrested leaflet
· Witness statement form
· NVDA training schedules
· Concensus flow chart
· Emergency mail-out leaflet
· Section 6 notice
· Eviction summons
· Injuction affidavit - Application
· Injuction affidavit - Affidavit
The intention of this guide is to suggest advice on building and maintaining a fluid direct action campaign, by sharing experiences learned from British anti-roads campaigns between 1992 and 1996. It contains ideas on building a campaign, dealing with the accelerating pace as contractors arrive, and practical tactics to stop them. Although we're dealing with roads, much of this is, of course, applicable to building resistance and fighting other types of destructive developments. Information on positive actions, such as "Reclaim the Streets" street parties, is also included.
We won't attempt to duplicate any of the several excellent existing guides on fighting road schemes at an earlier stage. We concentrate on the later stages, involving direct action - although getting in early is vital to win! See Chapter 17 for details of the relevant publications.
Although this guide is based entirely on British experience, and much of its content is specific to Britain, we hope that readers in other parts of the world will find things of interest and use in here as well.
The layout is roughly in the order a campaign might proceed, but as some will probably repeat what you already know, we have also tried to incorporate "dip-into-ability", with easily identifiable subject headings.
Please be aware that this book only represents the opinions of a few people. Direct action requires a questioning attitude and means thinking for yourself. We hope that this will at least be a starting point for ideas; don't stop here! Read and use the lists of contacts and resources in Chapters 16 & 17. In the Appendix we have also included examples of documents from previous campaigns, such as "Beat the Bulldozer" pledges, phone trees, and bust cards.
Good luck, and please keep in touch with any constructive feedback.
When Does a Direct Action Campaign Begin?
The general pattern of British anti-road protests has been separation into a "Lawful Campaigning" phase and a "Direct Action" phase. The stereotypical sequence would be: years of patient, energetic campaigning, lobbying and awareness- raising by dedicated locals; followed by a last-ditch, hectic and spectacular direct action frenzy as construction begins. This is, of course, a very superficial model, and many of those taking part in each phase will be the same people; but it remains true that there is far too much separation, on many levels, between "conventional" campaigning and direct action. One of the main themes of this guide is bridging the gaps.
It's easy to get hung up on definitions of "direct action", "civil disobedience" etc. (see below for a brief discussion). What matters is that the approach at any time should NOT be stereotyped, but should be determined by whatever seems most likely to delay or STOP THE ROAD. It can be surprisingly easy to lose sight of this objective! For example, if you have heard that roads are going to be cut in the Budget, your last þ50 may be better spent targetting Treasury officials and MPs, than on buying D-locks. On the other hand, if the contract to build the road has been let, writing indignant letters to the government is a waste of time, that could be better spent building up camp defences, or finishing off the action phone tree.
Deciding what is and isn't appropriate for the campaign will take debate, argument and broad consensus. One of the main benefits of this sort of discussion is that people with different backgrounds can learn from one another, and that direct action tactics can be used in the campaign as and when required, rather than being artificially separate. It's a big mistake to assume that the spontaneity, passion and daring of good direct action should only be used in a limited section of the campaign, or only by a "special" group of activists.
Direct action is powerful and may benefit from careful planning. Consider things carefully and use it appropriately - but don't be afraid to go with your instincts. We'd definitely recommend starting cautiously and "escalating" tactics as time passes and the start of roadbuilding approaches.
So What's Direct Action?
This phrase has been applied to a huge variety of activities, and getting on and doing it is much more important than constantly arguing definitions! Briefly, direct action implies acting yourself, in a way that directly addresses the problem which you're confronting, and without relying on, or seeking approval from, politicians, bureaucrats or other mediators. Therefore, if you see bulldozers ripping apart somewhere you care about, you take direct action when you directly intervene to try and stop them.
Direct action also implies rejection of the procedures and rules of the roadbuilders, and having the initiative to decide for yourself what is right and what needs to be resisted, rather than obeying laws or orders. Although direct action can be seen merely as one tool in any campaigner's tool box, it is also much more than this. It means fighting for control of your own life and to attempt directly to affect the world around you, taking responsibility for your actions on your own terms.
In this guide we describe various direct action techniques, as well as ways to support, or build up to, direct action, and also more "conventional" campaigning methods. We don't see this as a hierarchy, but as a diversity without which a campaign will be one-dimensional, and unlikely to stop the road. Do what's right, do what's effective, and JUST DO IT!
The type of protest we will describe is generally called NVDA (Nonviolent Direct Action). It is impossible to adequately discuss the issue of nonviolence here, but a few points are worth making. Most activists would probably agree that British anti-road actions since Twyford Down in 1992 have been mostly nonviolent in character; however, it's important to state that definitions of "nonviolence" vary greatly, and there is a wide range of views. In particular, the right to defend oneself against violence is a controversial point. The people who wrote and edited this themselves differ in opinion on these issues.
Some activists see a nonviolent philosophy as absolutely essential at all times, and would not support any form of action which involved or supported violence; NVDA as both means and ends. Others see NVDA only as a tactic, and believe that violence may sometimes be necessary. It's probably fair to say that the majority of activists agree on nonviolence as the most successful and appropriate approach for fighting roadbuilding in Britain now; that's our view, at least. Therefore, the tactics and ideas outlined in the following pages are nonviolent ones. Ways of dealing with, and reducing, violent behaviour towards yourself are also discussed. (see Chapter 10).
The State has always depended absolutely on threatening and using violence, and will dig deeper into its huge arsenal given any excuses. It will nonetheless be quick to condemn any violence on your side - often including such actions as damage to property. The media will follow this line. It is important to expect this sort of thing and be ready to deal with it. Productive discussion within the campaign about nonviolence needs to happen if the campaign is to cope well with these issues.
The Schedule of Destruction
It is important to recognise the various stages of roadbuilding to prepare to fight it. After the political decision to build the road has been announced, the first stage will be awarding of the preliminary contracts. (NB. A generalised sequence of a contract award is described in Chapter 7.) The roadbuilding agency will be busy trying to let these contract(s), so now is the time to attempt to sabotage the contracts procedure - see Chapter 10 for ideas.
Around this time, people along the route who have had their properties or land bought under Compulsory Purchase laws will be sent a "Notice to Treat" or similar, giving notice of the earliest date work can start on their property. Get to know these people! Don't use "Notice to Treat" dates as definate, as each only covers a single parcel of land, not the whole route and work can also start well after issue of the Notice.
It is also essential to watch and monitor the route of the road as closely as possible, as this is the time when hostile activity often starts. In particular, look for surveying, vehicles snooping around the route, and sneaky tree-felling (see 'Route Monitoring" in Chapter 8). Because preliminary contracts are usually relatively low in cost and short, it's often hard to discover what's going on with them until the last minute - especially as there may be several. Whilst trying to find out as much as possible from tip-offs, sources in the construction industry etc, the best approach is surely to monitor the route as well as you can, and prepare to stop work if it starts. Now is the time to study, in detail, maps and plans of the road. Preliminary works is the most destructive period, and may include tree-felling, building demolition, drainage, road diversions, earthworks, and some construction; there may also be ecological or archaeological "rescue" contracts.
The main works contract(s) may start soon after the preliminary works, or there may be a delay of months while the contract letting procedures continue. It is a huge advantage if you can find out the start date! When main works do start, it's likely that one of the first jobs of the contractors will be to establish compounds and / or fenced areas of the route. (Of course preliminary works may also have involved some fencing.) Once contractors have thus secured their working space, they'll start getting on with work alarmingly quickly if you let them. The exact order of main works will vary depending on the complexity of the contract. To work out what's going on, remember that everything will be programmed to be completed together, so long jobs like building large flyovers are likely to start relatively early; see the Appendix for an example of a work schedule. Earthmoving is also likely to be started fairly early, especially if there's a lot of stuff to shift; however, it needs to be done between March and October to avoid the worst of the weather. The contractors should inform local residents of the general order of work. The job ends with laying the tarmac, signing and building barriers and roadside fences, tree-planting etc, and finally, the opening ceremony...
Chapter 2: Your campaign - some first steps
The first step in the process between sitting at home fuming about an outrageous new development, and actually stopping it, is finding other like-minded people and getting organised.
Starting up a Group from Scratch
Groups like the Friends of Twyford Down and Save Our Solsbury grew from a couple of people deciding to actively oppose road schemes. If you decide to set up a group to initiate opposition to a scheme, here are a few ideas for getting started. Firstly, get in touch with other local groups with similar interests - your local Earth First! (EF!), Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth (FoE), Council for Protection of Rural England (CPRE) group or cycling campaign - and see if there is any concern in these circles too. Get in touch with ALARM UK (see Chapter 16) to see if there are any activists or groups in your area. Write letters to the local papers and see who responds, then get in touch with them.
When you feel as if you have enough people to kick things off (remember, you'll only need a few) then consider setting up your first meeting. Book a hall, or hold the meeting in someone's house, and make sure as many people who've expressed interest can come along. Organise refreshments. Advertise in sympathetic places that a group is being set up to oppose the development you're fighting, and that a first meeting is being held. Do not invite the press.
The first meeting should be open, inclusive and inspiring! You could begin by getting to know one another and letting off steam about the development. If there are lots of people it might be an idea to do this in small groups of 4 or 5. Be at pains not to let a few people dominate the whole meeting. If people decide to respect one another as equals, encouraging active involvement from everyone in decision making and action, then both the campaign and the people in it will grow and blossom.
The task of this first meeting could be to choose the group's name. Once a group of people is set up, there are a few essentials to sort out without which your group won't really exist.
Money, Bank Accounts and Treasurer
A bank account is essential, both to allow you to process donations, and to avoid people in the campaign having to keep dipping into their own pockets. Set up an account with an ethically aware organisation, for instance the Co-op bank or an independent building society. Have at least two trustworthy signatories who are also not in trouble with outstanding financial court cases or debts.
One of these signatories should take the role of Treasurer. This is a role best suited to someone with book- keeping skills, time to spare, and who is easy to get hold of. The signatories will be the only people who'll have their names directly linked to the campaign and for this reason perhaps they should be people who are unlikely to be involved in arrestable direct action.
Treasurers should never be pressured into handing out cash on demand but should be able to refer demands back to the meeting. Right from the start the Treasurer should keep scrupulous records of income and expenditure so they are accountable to the campaign. However, never keep records or receipts of anything incriminating.
Points of Contact - Postal Address, Telephone and E-mail
You must have a postal address, as people will soon want to send you requests for information and donations etc. Consider setting up a Post Office Private Box (PO Box) as soon as possible rather than using a private home address, for security reasons. However the Post Office will disclose the names and addresses to which the PO Box is registered on request. Safer still is the BM Box confidential mail forwarding service, privately provided by British Monomarks (see Chapter 16). A BM Box gives your address complete security - except from the police! A third and easier alternative is to have a "care of" address in a sympathetic local radical bookshop or similar.
A telephone contact point is also essential. In the first instance you may want to use individual private phone lines. Several numbers will share the burden. Alternatively the campaign could pay to have a second line installed in someone's house with an answer machine with a message on it.
If a member of your group has access to a computer and a modem you may wish to set up an e-mail address (See Chapter 4 "the internet" section).
British anti-road direct action campaigns have always deliberately avoided formal hierarchical structures such as, committees, leaders and named positions. Hierarchies are stifling and do not bring out the best in people. From a practical point of view, hierarchical structures can easily be nobbled by the victimisation of its leaders.
Although non-hierarchical structures require hard work, patience and tolerance to work, they are worth it as they are definitely the most welcoming and inclusive way to enable everyone to maximise their contribution to the campaign. With this way of working, individuals will be able to vary their involvement according to their personal skills, energy and interests at any time, unrestricted by the straitjacket of formal structure. People will probably be happier too! It would be optimistic to pretend that informal hierarchies, based on experience or dominant personalities, will not develop. Try to minimise this, and ensure that these hierarchies don't become entrenched.
Establishing small but open working groups to tackle specific issues - research, legal support, fundraising - allows efficiency and specialisation without hierarchy. Having no leaders does not mean that individuals do not take the initiative or responsibility. It means that people have to be self-motivated.
The campaign will develop its own unique identity. Preserve this, and guard against being used by other groups or individuals with their own agendas. Hierarchical national organisations (even sympathetic and helpful ones) and political parties (including local politicians) may try to use your campaign to further their own ends, if you let them. Work with them, but on your own terms.
The system which brings about untold social and environmental ruin relies on people respecting and obeying hierarchy. Don't mimic the system - fight it!
Campaign meetings are an essential tool for bringing the campaign together for discussion and decision-making. Although they can be tedious and frustrating they should never be abandoned. Running successful, dynamic and positive meetings IS possible, although often hard work!
Firstly, decide on the purpose of the meeting. Regular weekly meetings are good for deciding basic campaign expenditure, exchanging news, and brief discussions, but aren't suitable for in-depth debates on a single issue, or for detailed action planning. It's best to call a separate meeting to deal in detail with planning or specific issues; alternatively, just get together the people interested, and do it! Some campaigns have set up small working groups to work on particular projects; these can then report back to a weekly meeting.
The weekly meeting should have a fixed time and venue, to provide a steady reference point. Weekday evenings are good times, starting the meeting late enough to allow people who have been working to get there, but early enough so that it finishes in good time. Meetings in camps are preferred by some camp-dwellers, but finding a reliable, comfortable, weatherproof and well-lit meeting space for enough people can be difficult. A meeting room in the nearest town is better, but will often pose transport problems for those living on camps. Providing reliable lifts from and back to camps on the meeting night may be the answer. Ensure the arrangement is broadly acceptable to everyone.
Running the Meeting
There are many ways to run a meeting, and the campaign must find one that is accessible and inclusive. Start by sitting in a circle large enough for everyone to see each other. There are two main ways which are commonly used to run a meeting:
· The "talking stick" method - this involves a stick or other object, which is passed between speakers, with only the stick-holder speaking. This theoretically gives everyone equal control over the meeting. However, people often chose to pass the stick to their friends or to people they know will support them. It is also very easy for dominant people to hog the stick. This method is therefore best used in co-operative meetings where there is little polarisation of opinion.
· "Facilitation" - this involves somebody taking the role of facilitator or chair. The facilitator should move through the agenda ensuring that points are discussed by the meeting, not just by the most vociferous. Facilitators could actively seek the opinions of new, quieter or shy people, but don't put them on the spot. The facilitator must be as genuinely objective as possible; a bad facilitator can completely ruin a meeting. The facilitator should avoid putting forward their own views. If they want to seriously get involved in the debate, they should relinquish the role for that period.
The facilitator should encourage new points, discourage reiteration in discussion and aim towards concluding the discussion with an action point (i.e. a task that someone agrees to take on). If lots of people have their hands up, note them in order on a piece of paper so each gets their say in turn. Remember that people whose hard work would otherwise go unrecognised should be thanked by the meeting.
It is important to rotate the facilitator at each meeting - this does not mean putting them in the middle of the circle and spinning them around, but instead means encouraging everyone to have a go. Good facilitators tend to keep facilitating meetings, but if you rotate the role, no individual will dominate. Make sure that people from different parts of the campaign with different perspectives have a go.
A piece of paper and a pen should be circulated at the start of the meeting so that all points for discussion can be formed into an agenda. This agenda should then be prioritised by the meeting. Always include an "Any Other Business" section at the end for forgotten items. It is a good idea to write up the agenda on a large bit of paper and stick it on the wall so that everyone (especially latecomers) can see what is going on. If something really dramatic and important happens, (such as contracts being signed) be prepared to abandon the agenda and talk about it for as long as necessary.
A minute taker should note important decisions, action points and the name of who's doing them. It is important that the work load after the meeting is distributed evenly, amongst as many individuals as possible. If the minutes of the previous meeting are read out at the start of each meeting then you can see what has happened, what should have been done, and how the campaign is developing.
Allow time before the meeting for gossip. Decide an end time at the start and try to stick to it. It is useful to separate the weekly meeting into sections, discussing finance and allocation of resources, for instance, for a fixed time, then moving on to other matters. Some basic structure helps everyone understand what's going on - starting the meeting with a current situation report works well, and a short news and information exchange, without discussion, can follow. After these relatively straightforward matters, the meeting can proceed to discussion points. Find your own simple structure that gets things done. If meetings last more than an hour, take a break.
Decision-making is a tricky process. Most campaign meetings have used a form of consensus. This means that everyone must agree a proposal, or at least be prepared to accept it; if someone has a really strong or principled objection, they can block the decision. This should create a process whereby a solution is reached by argument without alienating or dismissing anyone's strongly-held views.
Of course, there are problems, including the ability of one awkward individual to dominate and block decisons. However, consensus remains the most inclusive way of making decisions. Avoid voting if at all possible, especially on contentious issues, as the minority losers of the vote are immediately excluded. This may cause factions to form.
Chapter 3: Boosting numbers and support
Before you take on the road builders, your campaign must have a strong base. This means involving lots of people, having an accessible campaign structure and being well rooted in your local community. Your local community is obviously the right place to start looking for your supporters. Do this before mobilising nationally. This section describes essential methods that any campaign can use to build up its support base. The strength of your support base may well determine whether you win or lose.
Well-produced leaflets are invaluable, as they are the first contact many will have with your campaign. To grab attention above the daily bombardment of useless info, originality and creativity are needed. Decide at the start what the main goal of the leaflet is (eg. event publicity, background info, or to raise awareness or funds) and build your design around that.
Tips for producing a good leaflet:
· Computers produce bold, legible designs, but these will look less friendly than (well) hand- produced ones. Avoid messy, badly-drawn designs.
· Unless you're advertising an event, avoid putting details on the leaflet which will soon make it out-of-date. Ensure all vital info is included, especially a contact address and phone number.
· Keep the design simple, as it is likely to be photocopied, and thus distorted, many times.
· Always bear in mind the audience, and write to change other peoples' opinions, not to confirm your own.
· Resist the temptation to use jargon, exercise your personal hobby horse, or write leaflets while influenced by mind-altering substances...
· Unless the design is untraceable to your campaign, don't incite anything illegal.
· Check the draft leaflet with a few others before you finally copy it. Also, test them on people not connected with the campaign.
· File paper originals and disk copies, so you can easily produce more and update them if required.
Next, find cheap printing or photocopying; using the photocopier at work is free. However, printing works out cheaper than copying for large volumes, and enhances quality, particularly for photographs. Be realistic about how many copies you need. Then, distribute them. Put in friendly shops, cafes, info centres; send originals for copying to action groups; hand out in town centres, gigs, fairs etc; bribe newspaper-deliverers to pop them through letterboxes.
Most of the points made for leaflets also apply to posters. In addition, use as little text as you can to get the message across. Avoid a cluttered layout - keep images striking and simple. Put "not for flyposting" on the bottom of posters, to cover you when you flypost them! Flypost tirelessly (plastic bags are less conspicuous than buckets for carrying wallpaper paste).
These can be very cheap, and can be stuck anywhere to get the message out. Central Line tube trains used to be covered with "No M11 Link" stickers! Use a simple design, and remember the campaign contact details, if appropriate.
Petitions are popular but we think they are over-rated. Unless they are really huge (several 100,000), they are usually ignored - even huge ones are often still ignored. Some people just sign petitions to salve their consciences and won't do anything else as a result. Don't give them the option. The only thing that petitions are good for is to wave at your opponents when they mention local opinion on the road.
Printed postcards are good for assisting people to register their opposition. They can be pre- addressed to politicians, with space for peoples' name and address, and to add comments. The Newbury Bypass was delayed for 6 months in 1995, largely due to local people seriously "postcarding" for 2 months. They went round from door to door every evening, and in 2 months collected over 2000 postcards from local people urging the Transport Secretary to stop the road. Before you post off the postcards, always add the supporter's details to your mailing list and keep a record of the number you send. See Appendix for an example.
Beat The Bulldozer Pledges
Used in numerous campaigns - most famously to help to stop the East London River Crossing through Oxleas Wood in 1993. They are a form that people can fill in pledging to try and be there when the bulldozers come. Pledges are useful for building up a mailing list (see "mailing lists" in Chapter 3). It is good to include a space on the pledge for people to indicate their skills and what they are interested in, eg. NVDA, letter writing, phone tree, leafletting etc. This can help you target your mailings in future. Ask people to print their name and address clearly. Distribute them nationally. Keep a tally, so you can publicise the scale of expected direct action. For examples of other campaigns' Beat the Bulldozer Pledges see the Appendix.
This is an excellent, if time consuming, way to increase your support base by getting postcards and pledges signed. It is also useful for getting a feel for the extent of local support and opposition to the road. The importance of talking to people face to face cannot be over emphasised. Don't just moan in your group how nobody realises how bad things will be; get out there and convince them. Door knocking is also the best way to draw out silent supporters who otherwise wouldn't come to you.
Remember that just because people want the road, they are not necessarily manic nature- haters. Try to understand their often legitimate concerns; if you know why people want the road then you can argue much more effectively against it.
Decide which areas you will target first and divide them into manageable chunks so that different people don't duplicate effort. A town map is useful for this. Areas most affected by the development are good places to start. The best times to door knock are weekday evenings after work, ideally before dark, and all day Saturday. Always respect that you are intruding.
It helps to dress smartly and be polite, and is more enjoyable if done in pairs or small groups. If you come across really enthusiastic people, discuss pledges (see above) and suggest other ways of getting involved. Make a note of their names and addresses, and add them to your mailing list. On the other hand, don't waste your time on people who are absolutely for the road, move on politely. Never get drawn into a doorstep row!
Door knocking only needs a small team to stick at it. Meet up after each session in a pub or cafe to analyse patterns, and your methods.
Stalls in your town are a key way to reach people. Choose a prominent position so people notice you. Have all your local campaign info for people to take away, with a big sign saying that the leaflets are free. Try to rotate the stall staff - you are not terribly inspiring if you are knackered. The first contact will probably determine whether or not people are inspired. Ranty accounts of how bad things are will put new people off; so will exaggerated and made-up stories. However, don't be afraid to show passion and emotion.
Have an address list for people to sign - never lose a contact. Campaign postcards, posters or T-shirts can also be sold. Always have an obvious collecting tin for any donations. You may need permission from the local authority or the police to have a stall and you'll definitely need permission to collect money. If you are refused - do it anyway! The worst that can happen is that you'll be asked to move on.
These help everyone build up a relationship with the land that they are campaigning for, and show exactly where the road is going, especially before work starts. Bill them as fairly neutral so that fence-sitters can find out more and won't feel as if they are just political rallies. Once they see the land they will know what side of the fence they are on! Publicise the meeting time and place through local papers, posters around town, and leaflets. Lots of cars arriving is hypocritical, so consider hiring a minibus to take people to the start of the walk, or use public transport. The start should be a well-known accessible place. Publicise the end point of the walk so that people can make arrangements. Remember that you will finish miles away from the start, so use the minibus to get everyone back again. Having a choice of end points means that people can walk for a shorter distance if they wish. Consider those with children, the elderly and others who can't walk far. Have someone on the walk who knows the area and can give a commentary - experts on archaeology, wildlife and local history are particularly good.
Public Meetings And Debates
These are excellent local rallying opportunities and allow people who are undecided to be presented with the facts. They will pull people in if well publicised. If you're feeling really confident, invite representatives of any pro-road group on the platform with you for a debate. Hold the meeting in a central place like a school hall in town, which is easy to find. Give it a snappy name for your press releases and posters. Good speakers from your side should inspire, inform and consolidate support. Create displays for people to wander around with beautiful blown-up pictures of what would be destroyed by the road. After your speakers, always leave lots of time for an open discussion so that everyone can have their say. You will need a good Chairperson for this! Plant people in the audience with things to say as your opponents will do the same. Other groups such as Women's Institutes, Chambers of Commerce, schools and wildlife groups will hold their own meetings. Contact them and ask if you can do a presentation, or at least take part in a debate.
These are really good for bringing everyone together so you feel stronger - and can be combined with fund-raising. Have as many as possible with everyone bringing food to share. Get to know each other as friends. The most interesting campaign discussions will often take place in the pub! Games and sports are good too, although don't make them too macho.
Newsletters allow you to put your case clearly, in an ordered manner. You can argue through the real points at issue, creating a different media instead of relying on the mainstream. When replying to enquiries, you can just pop one in the post. They are important for networking to people whom you can't meet face to face.
Think of your target audience, for example: regulars who want to hear the latest, other active groups who can spread your news, or new people who have just picked up a copy off a bus seat.
Offensive language, in-jokes and slang may alienate people who will either think you're mad, cliquey or elitist. Ideally, whatever you write should be clear to anyone. It is quite important to assume your reader has little prior knowledge of the issue.
Only write newsletters when there is news to tell. Check out newsletters from other groups, look at how they are put together and what they contain. Quality is more important than quantity; long newsletters are expensive to produce and post, and may bore people. Newsletters can be typed, or hand-written if you don't have a computer. Think about clarity.
A newsletter can include:
· The group's contact details - essential.
· Introduction of your group and its aims.
· Articles, ideally written by more than just one person.
· Photographs and cartoons.
· Contacts of other groups to help readers get actively involved.
· Future events listings (listing other people's events makes them more likely to list yours!).
· A returnable, cut-out coupon with nothing important on the reverse, for information requests and new contacts.
· Requests for donations. State who to make cheques payable to and where to send them.
The final product should be readable, interesting and useful. Avoid waffle and make it punchy and enthusiastic.
It is worth asking people to edit and proof-read it, before spending time and money on printing. Good spelling and grammar aid clarity. Form an editorial group including people with different perspectives. The group should work to a tight schedule and stick to deadlines, aiming to get it out quickly. Find the cheapest printer you can and order a realistic number of newsletters. Prepare envelopes and address labels whilst the newsletter is being printed.
Mailing lists can be compiled over time, as people make contact. Try to get contact details for everyone who expresses an interest. If people phone in asking for updates, or offering skills or equipment, record their contact details. Ask if they want further information sent and then add them to your mailing list. If they hear from you again quickly they will pick up on the urgency. Add radical groups from around the country from existing lists, eg The Book and EF! Action Update (See Chapter 17).
Computer databases are the easiest way of storing mailing lists. It is easy to copy the necessary software. Whatever format you choose to use for your mailing list, ensure that it can be easily added to and separated regionally for targetted mailouts. Keep it secure and have back-up copies in safe places.
There are security implications of having large numbers of activists' names and addresses on lists. It was from mainstream animal welfare organisations' mailing lists that the British secret services developed ARNI (Animal Rights National Index), a database of British animal rights sympathisers. Consider using encryption software to make the database unintelligible if it is seized (see "the internet" in Chapter 4).
Computer stored databases in the UK are supposed to be registered with (i.e. a copy sent to) the Data Protection Registry. This is a really easy way for the State to get a copy of your mailing list. Don't give it to them. However the Registry are currently threatening at least one environment group with legal action for failure to register. It may be possible to register without using your real database.
Banners And Flags
Banners and flags are essential in any campaign and have a long and proud history. They are good for rallying people, getting messages across and adding colour to demos and actions. You can also mark out the route near a road, footpath or railway line. They are fun to make. If you are feeling fed up, rather than sitting around moaning, get into a bit of banner making! Have a good stock of banners throughout your campaign; well made ones will be better looked after and will last longer. Messy, mis-spelt banners are not worth the sheets they are written on.
Flags look fantastic and are good rallying symbols. Avoid anything nationalistic or militaristic. If you make them from light material they will fly in the wind and look great. Use bright colours.
To produce a banner with a slogan on, first measure out the letters and draw them on in pencil to ensure they all fit. Keep the message simple and clear. Instead of slogans, why not use imagery or symbols? Banners including the campaign phone number are good for the media.
Always leave a big margin around the edge for banner hanging. Work out how the banner will be displayed before you start. If it is carried then you will need to sew two sleeves up the vertical sides to insert poles. If you are hanging the banner, you will need ropes attached to the top corners and weights sewn into the bottom corners or a pole in a sleeve along the bottom, to stop it blowing in the wind. Small holes in large banners can stop them billowing.
You may not want to paint the banner but use fabric for letters. You can also stick or sew fabric letters onto a net background so that it looks like your words are literally hanging in the air!
If doing a Street Party (see chapter 11), banners strung across the road between lamp posts look very good and define your autonomous zone! See Appendix for how to climb the post.) Take a good look at the width of the road when designing your banners.
Put out the message that the campaign needs artists and banner makers as well as materials and ask local art colleges. Find a space for banner making where materials can be stored - an empty garage is good. Hospital laundries, charity shops and jumble sales usually sell cheap old sheets.
Chapter 4: Branching out
For your campaign to grow into a force to be reckoned with, it will need more and more people to get actively involved. Make this as easy as possible for them and draw support from as wide an area as you can reach. The more people who are visibly active, then the more likely the developers are to back down. No matter how cunning your tactics or how high your tree houses, there is no substitute for a diverse mass of determined people.
The Campaign Office
Any effective campaign, which seeks to achieve a national (or international or even intergalactic) profile, will need some sort of office. This can become a vibrant hub for your campaign where information flows efficiently, supporting activists on the ground, and helping people get involved by providing an initial point of contact. However, it can also become a burden and a place of contention if the roles of the office and its staff are not clear. Offices are a long term financial commitment (phone and electricity bills etc.).
The Function of an Office
Everyone involved in the campaign should help to decide what the function of the office is. You should also clearly define what it is NOT. Is it a communications centre where the phones are answered? Is it a place where new people are welcomed and introduced to the campaign? Is it a place where quiet work goes on and publicity is designed? Is it a place where activists can go to get warm and a cup of tea? Is it a place where money is distributed and equipment stored? If incompatible roles are merged, people won't get the attention they need and office staffers cannot get work done. The office atmosphere will depend on the stage of the campaign and may even vary according to the time of day. Be flexible and strike a balance without isolating the office. To be honest every campaign has had problems with their office. Maybe you will get it right!
Perhaps another building should be set up for the extremely important roles of welcoming new people and giving activists space to relax, without telephones ringing constantly and crises being played out over the CB's. (See Welcome Centres in Chapter 8.)
Finding an Office - and keeping it!
This is the hard bit. You could rent an office, a cheap portacabin, or maybe use a room in someone's house. Perhaps find someone to take somewhere on using Housing Benefit. Alternatively, you could use a squatted building.
Rented offices are the most stable, but paying money (that could be spent campaigning) to a landlord is a shame. If you manage to get the money together for a rented office there are still many things to consider. You may have business neighbours who won't warm to streams of protesters arriving. If you are renting a "Business" property, you will be billed for business rates, and whoever's name is on the contract will be pursued for it. Try getting premises under a false name, or if you can arrange charitable affiliation, you may get a sizeable discount.
Offices in people's houses usually turn into a nightmare with access a continual problem. When a campaign turns hectic there is just no rest from the 24 hour headache.
If an office is in a house rented for this specific purpose with Housing Benefit, people may see it as a "free" place and not respect it. You will still have to answer to a landlord who may not see your point over muddy boots. Beware that nosy neighbours may inform Housing Benefit or your landlord what you're really up to.
If you have a squat the problems of trashing are even worse as protest squats usually end up getting little respect. Because no one "owns" it, some people may act as if anything goes. It will also be very insecure and open to eviction and attack. Not an ideal place to store computers and files! However, at least the squat and Housing Benefit options are free.
Voluntary offices do not have staff paid to come in everyday. Ideally, a broad group of people should run the office, although it is the responsibility of the whole campaign to maintain it effectively. Good communications skills and an ability to stay calm under pressure helps. Perhaps take time to train new staff and set up a rota to ensure the office is staffed regularly. Most office staff will also be involved in "on the ground" Direct Action, and office work is as vital as any other activity. Try to avoid splits between the office and camps.
Remember that your office is one of the most important places in terms of expanding your campaign - speaking to new people on the phone, press work, doing mailouts, producing leaflets. If the telephone is answered by a stressed out ranting rude person, who can't be heard above background chaos, then the caller is unlikely to want to get involved. If you have happy and effective staff at the office, more people will feel enthused and be encouraged to join in!
You'll also need to discuss the opening hours of the office. At vulnerable times during the campaign, such as during evictions, it is worth staffing the office overnight. Be aware that you may be in breach of an office tenancy agreement if people sleep there, so be discreet. Nobody can cope with the stress of being open 24 hours, so at night consider shutting the office, except for a skeleton staff in case of emergencies. Office staff should be allowed to rest.
Layout of office
The office needs to be user-friendly, with simple procedures for processing and disseminating information. Label everything clearly and write out "how to do" lists. It is a good idea to have a space at the front of the office with information about the campaign, forthcoming events, and news for newcomers to browse through. Notice boards near the entrance are very useful, for instance for lifts offered / needed.
Offices which have several rooms allow you to zone activities effectively. Ideally, you might have a quiet work room, containing computers, files etc; a "nerve centre" with phones, faxes and CBs, where the hectic stuff goes on; a smoking / chill-out / tea-drinking room; and a storage space. Doors between the various rooms allow the functions of each to be preserved, and improve security enormously. It is very important that people - or police - can't just walk in and help themselves to your filing cabinets without being challenged! Preferably keep at least one door locked between the front door and your most valuable stuff (see Chapter 13).
Dealing with Info and Taking Messages
A particularly busy campaign should have about 2 - 4 phone lines, a separate fax line and an "incoming calls only" phone line (label it as such). In the office, a lot of information will be coming in very rapidly - most of it relevant, some of it not so. Those answering the phones will need to have some way of passing information on so that everyone can access and act on the latest news. Information must be passed on accurately; rumour, exaggeration and misinformation waste massive amounts of energy. Note the source of any rumours and try to validate them, before causing a panic.
A vital information sharing mechanism is the campaign message book. This stays by the telephone and has three columns: one for who the message is from, one for the actual message and another for the name of the person who the message is for and any action that is required as a result of this message (with an empty box to be ticked on completion). That way, anyone who wants to quickly see if there are any messages for them can just scan down the last column. Message books form a good chronological record of the campaign, so don't lose them.
Another method involves a large wipeable board which can be fixed to an office wall. Everything that happens can be written up, with times noted, so that office staff and visitors can see at a glance the latest situation. Before wiping clean at the end of each day, copy its contents into the message book to build up a picture of the day's events.
Dealing with paperwork
Incoming campaign mail may be best dealt with in someone's home, particularly during hectic periods. This way, replies can be written and donations passed to the treasurer with less risk of them being lost in the chaos. Always acknowledge donations and record the donor's details on your database (unless they ask to remain anonymous). Positive or interesting mail should always be returned to the office and shared with the rest of the campaign - perhaps stored in a "Cheer up" file.
In the office a system of trays or boxes, marked IN, OUT and PENDING can be used to process documents. Make sure everything useful is filed methodically. You could also have files for today's arrests, to campers, contractors' vehicles, lists of people offering baths etc. A campaign diary or wallchart calendar will help with forward planning. Try to stay focused - information overload will constipate your office. Radical groups often end up on the mailing list of every loony in the land. Much of your IN tray may be best filed in your recycling bin!
Other functions of the office
The office is especially important for people living away from home who may rely on it to send and receive mail, stay in touch with family and other campaigns, write witness statements etc. The office could also act as an archive where information can be stored for everyone's use. Archive material could include: intelligence gathered on contractors (e.g. vehicle movements, meeting places, registration numbers); press clippings; photographs; and a library of resources e.g. government reports and other campaign groups' publications.
Organising an event helps boost the campaign profile and morale; you'll get publicity and hopefully more people will get involved. Decide what form you want the event to take - a march, a rally with speakers or a demo. Work-stopping Days of Action are described on page yyy.
Fix the date well in advance - the key to any well-attended event is good publicity and sufficient notice. Avoid clashing with other events. A month's notice should be the minimum time to publicise an event. Weekends are undoubtedly the best time to hold events, as most people can come then. Plan around public transport timetables. Avoid hideously early starts and aim to give your event as broad an appeal as possible. Once you have decided and publicised the details of the event, don't change it otherwise you'll confuse people.
Things to work on include:
· A name for the event
· Artwork for the publicity
· Accommodation if necessary
· A meeting place on the day
· Entertainment and music (with Public Address system [PA] if necessary)
· Information telephone lines (page yyy)
· Legal issues
· Sign posts
· And, most importantly, the people available on the day to help get it together
Design and distribute posters and leaflets as early as possible. Send publicity to, and ring around, green magazines and other groups' listings to get your event publicised on other networks. If you have a database of supporters, and can afford it, do a mailout. Have speakers from your campaign at other events who can plug yours. It is worthwhile putting a lot of effort into local publicity. Local people are most likely to come, as they are most closely affected and don't have far to travel. Hang banners detailing your event at suitable vantage points. Small cheap stickers with the event details can be stuck on subways, lamp posts, bus stops, policemen's helmets...
Press and Press releases
Send out an initial press release to the local papers giving just the basic details for inclusion in their events listings. If your campaign has enough money you may wish to put an ad in the paper. Nearer the time, send out a full press release about your event (see Chapter 5). Be aware of local papers' deadlines. If you decide to send a press release out to the national press, make sure it is tied into an interesting story.
As the day nears there are lots of things to consider, depending on the nature of the event. As early as possible you should sort out permission from landowners or police, if appropriate - but remember that the best events are often held without permission on land you want to reclaim, or are "illegal" marches! If you are organising a march, you will probably have to choose a route and end-point in advance. Hire or prepare toilets - preferably build your own compost loos (see Appendix); hire or blag a PA; prepare information stalls; invite and offer travel expenses to speakers. Don't feel as if you must have big-names. Often people directly involved in grassroots campaigning are the most inspiring. Think up an activity that everyone can join in with after the speakers which will give everyone a lasting memory of the day. For instance, at Twyford in March 1993, hundreds of people symbolically "re-built" the Down by passing chalk into the cutting.
Organise press spokespeople for the day and make sure you have good banners and flags. Stewards should not take on the role of police, but be there to give directions and to help people.
Telephone Info Line
This is a telephone line with an answer machine which takes incoming calls only. The message should be updated regularly with the latest campaign news - at busy times this would be as frequently as every half hour. This saves office staff countless repeated telephone conversations. Also, people phoning in should get a reasonably sane and reliable message instead of somebody trying to do several things at once. Be aware that the info line will also provide your enemies with a really useful resource, so be careful what you put onto it. The DoT's private detectives faithfully recorded the Newbury info line and used it for injunctions. Cheap answering machines will quickly wear out so consider an electronic answering service.
A phone tree is basically a network whereby a phone call triggers the person called to ring several other pre-arranged numbers, and so on until everyone has got the message. They are one of the best and cheapest ways to spread messages quickly amongst your supporters. They are used in two broad ways: as a emergency alert (e.g. for the start of work or an eviction) to get people to respond as quickly as possible; or as a general, regular means of spreading information through a group without one person having to ring everyone!
Note that these two functions don't mix well - the power of the emergency phone tree lies in occasional appropriate use. A good way to resolve this problem is to have two separate phone trees. Often the "emergency" tree will be large and national in scope, whilst the "news" tree will probably be mostly local (these can be good for putting local people in touch with each other). Another approach is to only have one phone tree, reserved for emergencies, and to use other means to spread news, for instance a recorded info line.
There are loads of ways to structure a phone tree and some are shown in the Appendix. The start of the tree is often called the roots, and other levels, the trunk, branches, twigs, fruit etc. Whatever you call it, the basic principle is of phone numbers fanning out in levels from the start point. For a very small group not dealing with emergency messages, a simple loop structure may be better.
Setting up a Phone Tree
Before you start, be absolutely clear what the purpose of the tree is, and when and how it will be used. Decide where the tree will be triggered from; usually this will be the campaign office. But wherever you choose, it's essential that the start of the tree is dependable! Ensure that people who are reliable (ie. always near a phone) are near the bottom of the tree. To develop the tree, ring down your list of people who want to join the tree, and ask them about their availability. Find out if they are willing to be phoned at work and check their address. Build the tree up in levels, assigning people their numbers to ring (3 numbers each works well), and checking it as you go. It's a good idea - although a lot of work - to give people a personalised, printed list of their numbers to stick by their phone. Remind people to phone you if they lose their numbers.
A phone tree must contain mechanisms to overcome gaps if people are out. One way of doing this is to create overlap, so that the same person gets rung by more than one person from the previous level. Another way is to have a feedback loop, which entails the people at the end of the branches ringing back to the roots to show that the message has got through. If the message hasn't got through the roots should ring back down the branch to find the gap. Alternatively, if people are given a list of all the numbers after them in the tree, they can leap frog any gaps and ring further down the branch.
Yet another method is not to have any specific mechanism at all but to ask everyone on the tree to report back to the roots any failure to get through to any of their numbers. The roots can then trigger the missing link.
When the phone tree is more or less constructed, send a test message. Get the people at the end to ring back to the start to confirm that the message got through.
Once established, the phone tree will need constant maintenance as new people are added, other people leave and people's circumstances change. It is important to remove people who no longer want to be on it immediately. This maintenance and general operation of the tree is hard work, best done by a small dedicated group.
Autonomous local support groups could have their own separate phone tree which is triggered off by yours.
Using the Phone Tree Properly
There's no point putting loads of time, effort and phone bills into setting up a phone tree if it's misused. It can be a very powerful asset if used to maximum advantage. To ensure this, it is essential that the whole campaign agrees and knows when exactly the phone tree is to be used, especially for "emergency" trees. Stick to this! It's best if a group of trusted people take sole responsibility for setting off the tree. For example, at Newbury in 1996, six people, three from camps and three locals, had to agree before the phone tree was set off for the first time. Don't set it off too often or you will irritate people and they will ask to be removed.
Whatever system you develop, ensure that the tree can't be set off by one paranoid individual on a bad day, or by anyone hostile to the campaign. For the same reason, copies of the whole tree should have as limited a circulation as possible. It's also worth having a back-up plan for setting off the tree in case the phones at its base mysteriously go dead at the vital moment...
There's been a lot of hype about the Internet, and debate about how valid and useful it is for campaigners. It's undoubtedly fairly elitist, as you need expensive equipment and technical know-how. On the other hand, just about every British student now has free internet access, and so do lots of people with office jobs. It's relatively easy to use, provides quick, cheap and global communication (including rapid mailing to lists), is very difficult to censor, and can be made extremely secure. It's a tool worth using but not depending on.
Unless you get free access, you'll need a computer, a modem (to send data down a phone line), internet software, and an account with a "service provider" (GreenNet are a UK-based service provider, specialising in internet access to environmental and human rights groups - see Chapter 16). Once set up, there are three main ways to communicate.
This is simply sending text from your computer to those of other internet users, via a phone line. Once received, this text can be stored, printed off or edited - for instance, people on different sides of the country can quickly produce a leaflet together. A message can be sent to literally hundreds of e-mail addresses in minutes. Most internet software programs include a facility to allow you to create e-mail lists. Alternatively, ask your service provider to set up a list for you. Some existing lists are openly accessible; for instance Green Student Network (firstname.lastname@example.org) will forward your message to hundreds of students. Messages can also be encrypted with software like PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), which gives extremely secure communication. Ask computer enthusiasts how to get a free copy of PGP. Alternatively, you can download PGP directly from the world wide web (see below). Use a search engine to find "PGP".
Bulletin Boards / Newsgroups / Conferences:
These are open access internet "interest groups", each devoted to a particular topic. They are useful for posting your news and views to be read by anyone reading the Board, and for finding information and contacts on a particular topic. Try uk.environment or trans.roadbldg on the UseNet / GreenNet systems.
World Wide Web:
This enables you (with the right software) to "visit" Websites, which are pages of text and images created by an internet user. Any group or individual can have a website, and put what they like on it - although it takes know-how and often cash to set one up. Users can browse between sites for infinity, (phone bills permitting). It is potentially a very valuable info gathering tool, especially if you know where to look. Organisations often put non-confidential information on the web, for instance both the DoT and FoE put their press releases on, and many companies post their company reports. By looking for key words or phrases using search engine software, you can cut through the crap and pull up references and links to whatever you're after. The web is also a good free source of documents and software.
Several campaigns have set up their own web sites, which are good for networking, especially to students, and also internationally. Ask a service provider how to set one up. Web sites offer great possibilities for subversion. For instance anyone searching for Costain Plc, the Newbury contractors, may find more Third Battle of Newbury propaganda than official company documents. If you mimic official company information with bogus web sites, the subversion level multiplies.
A word about internet security: unless you are sending an encrypted E-mail to someone you trust, assume that EVERYTHING you put out on the internet is completely "in the open", and will be read by the authorities.
Autonomous Local Groups
Autonomous local groups are a dynamic and successful way of decentralising your campaign once it spreads beyond your town. The group will be a focus for all your supporters from any given town or district. Each should be self-sufficient with its own phone tree and transport arrangements, working as an "affinity group" (see"affinity groups" in Chapter 8).
Organising this way takes the burden off the campaign and builds the autonomous group into a strong unit. The group should support each other and can travel, organise, and train together. They can also organise their own independent actions for your campaign. An autonomous group can take on particular task, like ground blockading during a tree eviction or researching and planning part of a national action. The group will also still be there after the campaign has finished and can go on to do different things.
During the Third Battle of Newbury, the nearby town of Reading had a particularly strong group - the Reading Roadbusters. On the second day of work starting, the group blockaded a Reading coach company due to transport security guards to Newbury. This made them pull out of their contract! This action was organised and carried out entirely by the Reading Roadbusters. Other groups "adopted" camps, keeping them supplied with food, blankets, firewood, equipment and occasional extra workers. One student group set up a new camp and staffed it in rotation.
Your campaign should help establish the local group as far as possible in advance of work starting. Help people who are particularly keen, starting with a meeting to drum up support in their town. Pass on any contacts in their area from your database, and direct new enquiries to their nearest local group. If they need it provide them with direct action training and help with things such as setting up a phone tree. If you can, give them "seed money" to get the ball rolling. Consider doing an exchange with them so one person can go and help out with their group, and one of them can come to your campaign and learn the ropes.
Stay in touch with the groups and keep them
informed of what is going on. There should be a few key, reliable contacts
within each group who can disseminate information. Consider having an
occasional newsletter specific to local groups.
Buying, Blagging And Borrowing
Direct action campaigns can be like black holes for equipment and money. With minimal resources beyond determination and commitment, we need to get equipment as cheaply as possible. Materials and equipment are best obtained free by donation, or acquisition from big companies that: a) won't miss them, and b) need them less than you (e.g. big property developers).
Skips are an excellent source of timber, plastic sheet, carpet and food. Although technically theft, the amount of perfectly good stuff thrown out, particularly in wealthy areas, is obscene. Ask anyone working on a demolition site, or at the end of the day at a market, if it's OK to take stuff from the skip. They'll probably say yes, as it's cheaper for them than emptying it. Leave skips looking tidy. Freight hauliers may have old tarpaulins which you could ask for. Building sites often have spare scaffolding and bags of sand and cement. If they are building on a green field site then liberating materials is a direct action.
Businesses may offer discounts to regular customers or people whose actions they support. Bulk orders of goods like whole foods and rope will be cheaper. Army surplus and junk yards are a good source of cheap clothes, boots, sleeping bags, tools, tarpaulins and other equipment. Boycott local companies that support the development, and let them know why.
Draft one of these immediately and circulate it widely as soon as possible. A wish list is basically a list of all your campaign's practical needs with a plea for donations. It is a very easy way for people to help who cannot be there. It is amazing how much useful stuff like CB radios, which we all thought were just a 70's fad, are lurking in other people's attics when they should be on your campaign! This does not apply to Boney M and Bay Sitter Rollers LPs.
Make the wish list as beautiful, eye catching and charming as possible. Put everything down, including the boring stuff like socks and photocopier paper (and don't forget to put a photocopier on the list - it may happen!). Also ask for skills such as artists and welders. Send it to any mail enquiries you get, distribute it to your mailing lists and put it on your stalls.
Examples of wish lists are included in the Appendix.
Unfortunately, all campaigns need cash to keep running and to expand. This means that someone, or some people, will have to put some effort into securing you some funds. This is a very important role. Your campaign will be most likely to attract funds if it is genuinely inspiring, and your fundraiser is charming and can enthuse people into parting with their cash! The art of getting people to give to your campaign is a delicate one and should be handled with sensitivity. If people have given once, you will want them to give again and to carry on supporting you. If the donor feels that their money is really going to have an effect and they are shown some proof of how well it was spent, they'll be more inclined to give again.
Sometimes, people in direct action campaigns rely on guilt-tripping and bullying people to get them to "give" - the "we're saving the planet for YOU" line. If you do this, you will alienate people and make them feel as if they have been used or intimidated. They won't feel like giving again and will be put off other direct action campaigns.
Appeals through your mailing list -
In every newsletter or leaflet, mention the fact that your campaign needs money. Some people assume that if you are producing a newsletter then you must be doing alright. The truth is that campaign funding usually comes out of personal pockets. Always give clear instructions on how to donate, i.e. who to make cheques and Postal Orders out to. Be aware that if you really overdo it and are always asking for money, people may doubt your need. If the situation is really bad, you could put in a special leaflet stating your financial situation and ways that people could help. You could also put specific urgent appeals for money or goods on your info line.
Giving examples can help people identify with your situation and illustrate how every little helps. For instance: "This newsletter cost us 100 to print and 200 to post out. This has all come out of our pockets. If everyone on the mailing list sent just 5, this would raise 2,500. 5 would pay for the costs of mailing you this newsletter regularly. 10 would pay for some good healthy food for the camps. 40 would pay for a decent climbing harness for somebody to be able to go up in the trees."
Always write personal thank-you letters to people who have sent you money and keep a record of all donors on your database. If you do a specific fundraising mailout to these people, remember to thank them for their past generosity and give examples of what their donations have achieved.
Direct contributions -
At every event make sure you do some bucket rattling. Small change soon adds up and there are always people who will chuck in notes! Don't overdo it, or do it aggressively. Keep hold of your bucket. Don't do it at other people's events without asking first.
Benefit gigs and other fundraising events -
These, if well planned, publicised and attended, can raise lots of money. Sometimes, however, they are loads of effort and at the end of the night you will only have just about covered your costs. Publicity is the key to any good event: fly-post extensively. Make sure that people realise the objective of the event is to raise money and don't try and free-load their way in! Think carefully about the admission fee. It must be enough to make money for the campaign, but not too expensive. Consider having a concessionary rate.
Most benefits involve local bands. Other options include a folk evening, a ceilidh, a story-telling evening, a bingo night, a fete or fair, a jumble sale, or something else that fits in with the local culture and community. Only pay bands expenses or you won't make a profit.
Always have an information stall at the event, selling campaign merchandise and collecting donations. If any potentially sympathetic band is due to play in your area, or there is a regular club night at a local venue, approach them and ask if you can run a stall. Ask the band or DJ to point out your stall.
Funding Proposals -
This is the best, and often the only, way to get larger sums of money from trusts, individuals and organisations (see Chapter 17). A funding proposal is a summary of your campaign project and a breakdown of the money needed to achieve it. Many of these groups will only consider a proposal if it is on paper and sounds realistic.
A funding proposal should be clear, concise and convincing. You could ask for funding for newsletters, organisation for an action, event or demo, office expenses, or direct action and communications equipment. Funding proposals for outrageous things are always worth a go - a hot air balloon or helicopter perhaps. Like a press release, you will need to catch the potential funder's attention immediately. They may receive loads of proposals and yours will have to stick out. Some funding bodies only allocate funds once or twice each year, so find out when they next meet.
How to write a Funding Proposal
· A maximum of a few pages should suffice
· It should firstly introduce your campaign and say why it is important (briefly!)
· Next, it should explain your project in plain language
· It should then outline the benefits of your proposal to the campaign
· Include a breakdown of costs with the total at the end* (never exaggerate the costs or be dishonest).
Once sent out, the proposal may take a while to go through the system. Follow up the proposal with a phone call to make sure they received it, but do not hassle them.
If you get the money, well done! The person who did the negotiations should then maintain contact with the funder and build up a relationship of trust with them. Keep them informed of what happens to their money and about the campaign generally. Send them a letter or a report showing the result of the project.
Personal and Individual Contact -
You may be fortunate enough to have a "benefactor" approach your campaign. People like this are rare and often prefer to remain anonymous. They may ask for a funding proposal or they may give freely.
Pub Collections -
These are very easy - just go round pubs rattling a bucket! Ask permission from the licensee first and choose your pubs carefully.
Sponsored Events -
An old favourite and good for publicity.
Good buskers can raise a lot of money and can entertain the local community.
Campaign Merchandise -
T-shirts, badges, posters and postcards spread the message as well as raising money.
Chapter 5: Dealing with the Media
No matter what you think of the media and their superficial coverage, getting your campaign in the mainstream media is an important way of getting people to hear about your campaign. When people see reports of radical and effective action in the media, many might think "I could do that" and may get in touch. If you put no effort into the media, the arguments of the roadbuilders will go unchallenged.
Be aware that the media are not the objective watchdogs they pretend to be. They are multinational-owned information industries with an interest in maintaining the status-quo. Although individual journalists may be sympathetic or at least fair-minded, they all have editors who pull the strings and keep the corporation happy. Media coverage is dominated by sensationalism, conflict, personalities and superficial analysis. The debate as to whether to put much effort into getting media coverage or dismissing them as part of the system which we are fighting goes on in every campaign. You'll have to make your own decisions.
Creating our own media is the only way to ensure fair coverage. Your campaign media could include newsletters, booklets, video magazines and pirate radio stations. Your own propaganda should be good quality and inspiring. There is a buzzing alternative media network out there produced by activists and volunteers (see Chapters 16 and 17). Make sure you know about them and they know about you. Keep them up to date with informed and accurate information.
Getting the Most From the Media
The press can be very arrogant and expect you to run around and perform for them. Some, however, can be very supportive and will go out of their way to get your campaign good coverage. Dealing with the press is a two-way thing. They get good material and you get coverage. Don't be scared to politely refuse to co-operate with them. Stay in control and don't let them treat you like a puppet. Be polite and they may not be so inclined to be disrespectful again. Don't let journalists snoop around camps and offices unaccompanied, and always ask to see their press card. Consider making certain areas "out of bounds" to the press, e.g. offices and tunnels. Tell photographers to ask permission first from everyone who will be in shot.
Usually they do not pay for your time, although they should always pay travel expenses. However, you may want to try asking the larger media organisations for a donation to the campaign for your time. You'll be in a better position to do this if you are "hot news", or the interview is long and demanding. Repeated demands for money may sap goodwill. If you are going to ask, it is better to do so before the interview rather than haggling at the end. You may even want to draw up a basic contract for them to sign. 20 an hour is a reasonable charge.
The press are very lazy - the easier it is to get a story, the more likely it is they will print it. Remember that they are busy and have many other stories to cover, so don't waste their time. Cultivate your contacts and get to know them.
When setting up interviews, the privacy of the people to be interviewed should always be upheld. Never give a journalist someone's number without checking with them first. They can be very persistent and can harass people at home. You should ring the person and then give the journalist's number to them. You can always ring the journo back to make sure they got what they wanted.
The local media are crucial in any effective campaign to inform and attract local people and to counter the propaganda from the other side. Most local papers in the UK are conservative and are owned by bigger news corporations. Although it is hard work, don't despair and keep working on them. Many local radio stations have phone-in programmes; make sure you get on them in numbers. Local papers should put you in every week if you keep providing them with stories.
These people can be very useful. There are quite a few sympathetic freelancers out there, including a gaggle of photographers who have made road protests their speciality. They are usually (quite rightly) OK about giving the campaign copies of their pictures to use.
There are also a few activists who do a bit of journalism on the side and a few "green" journalists. Use these people to get articles in the press. If you invite them on secret actions, they can rush off and flog the story or pictures to the papers. Ask around other radical groups for contacts.
The construction press is one of the best ways to get a message right into the industry you're targeting. Send press releases to Contract Journal, Construction News, and New Civil Engineer, and phone up their news editors with big stories. Don't expect to find much common ground with them, but always let them know why you oppose a development, and who your protest targets are. Remember when talking to industry journalists that what you say may be repeated to contractors as that's where their main loyalty lies.
There are loads of other specialist media you can use, such as financial press, countryside magazines, local government press, and many more. Decide who might be interested in a particular event or story, and feed it to them.
If the national media cover your campaign then your profile may rocket. Make sure they get good footage and interviews. The press follow one another, so once you've achieved your first national coverage, expect your phones to ring. You will probably be dealing with a regular news reporter, or maybe the transport or environment correspondent.
Press contacts and lists
Never lose a contact! Start a press directory containing journalists' names and phone / fax number. List them in identifiable groups such as Locals, Nationals and Construction so you can do targeted press releasing. Make sure that you have the press agencies like the Press Association on your list. Local libraries will have national directories listing every regional and local newspaper. You can buy similar books. Don't forget to add all the freebie papers - as they'll print anything and are read by lots of people. Most environmental groups have a comprehensive press list - ask them for a copy.
The usual way to get information out to the media is to send out a press release. These are usually faxed or posted out to the media with a news story that you want them to cover. Use your judgement on whether to send out a press release. Send them regularly, but bombarding editors for the sake of it will put them off. If you've missed deadlines, don't bother. Tips for writing a press release:
· Mark NEWS RELEASE clearly at the top - plus your campaign name, phone number and logo.
· Next, put date of issue and mark "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE" unless it is embargoed (see below). When publicising an event, make sure the press release is out well in advance.
· Use a snappy headline.
· Include a summary of the main facts in the first paragraph, including WHAT is happening, WHERE, WHY, WHEN and by WHOM. It needs to immediately grab an Editor's attention or will be binned.
· The press release should be short, factual and well-written. Avoid opinionated rants and jargon.
· Use short paragraphs and simple sentences. Keep to one, or two at most, pages.
· Use a quote by an identified person to tell your side of the story. Use pseudonyms if you do not want your name in the paper.
· Write ENDS at the foot of the press release.
Ensure that there is a reliable contact with phone number on the release. This could include on- site mobile phone numbers. If you want the contact details printed in newspapers it must be in the main body of the text. If your press release is for an event, press conference or photo opportunity, include a map or directions.
If you do not want to go into massive detail on an issue in the main body of the text, but think it is of interest, include a Notes to Editors section at the end of the press release.
An embargo is a note at the top of the press release telling journalists not to leak or print the story before a particular deadline. However, never trust the press to keep them. When there was a banner drop on the roof of the DoT's private detective agency, the Bath Chronicle broke the embargo on the release and ran a "protesters to invade detectives roof" story the day before! Luckily the snoopers were not clever enough to read the local papers and did not find out.
Follow the press release up with a phone call to make sure that it was received.
Examples of press releases are included in the Appendix.
To get the press release out you can simply post them out first class. Make sure you address them to the appropriate correspondent or the newsdesk. This method is fine, but can get expensive and tedious if you have many press releases to send out. If you have a fax machine, it is worth creating re-usable fax headers on small bits of paper with the name of the journalist and their fax number on it. These will go through with the press release to make sure it gets to the right person.
Faxing press releases is also extremely tedious. Fortunately, most fax machines these days are programmable. This means that you can key in all the relevant fax numbers at the start, stick the press release into the machine and off it goes. The disadvantage is you cannot send different fax headers to the various numbers with the press release.
Probably the best solution is to use a fax modem, which sends your press release directly from your computer screen down the phone line to their fax machine. Fax modem software can incorporate database lists to which press contacts should be added. You can choose from your press database which journalists you want to send it to. Select them and then go to the pub while the machine does the work.
Setting up a photo opportunity is an easy way of getting your campaign exposure in the press. Most newspapers like eye-catching pictures, and if you set one up for them, they may use it. They may just caption the picture or use it as a springboard for a story.
To set up a photo opportunity you can either:
Take the picture yourself (or get freelance photographers to take it) and then approach the papers.
Send out a press release, putting the date and time details in a box to draw their attention.
Send the press release to the Picture Desk or the Picture Editor at your chosen newspapers. They will be on a separate fax number.
The photo opportunity should be early enough for photographers to meet deadlines - 11am is a good time. To get a good picture have people in the shot (children always look excellent!), and make it look active. If the picture needs words, then have some well-painted banners or placards. Alternatively, pose the picture next to something which explains what you are doing - a company name plaque if doing an office occupation, for example. The picture should be self- explanatory, if possible.
Talk to professional photographers for advice on how to get a striking image and the best way to set up a photo opportunity. The only way to get them right is to practice!
Media Information Packs
It might be useful to prepare a media pack, containing press releases and briefing sheets giving background campaign information. When it comes to writing or recording their piece, especially if they are pushed for time, they will hopefully lift chunks from it.
The campaign may wish to appoint media spokespeople, particularly for big events. People experienced in dealing with the media provide convenient contact points for reporters. Spokespeople should be clearly spoken, articulate and know the issues. It is important that they present the opinions of the campaign rather than just their own pet obsessions. Some people may see appointed spokespeople as controlling the campaign image. Meanwhile the authorities will identify them as ringleaders, possibly using their quotes as legal ammunition. A solution to these problems might be to encourage as many people as possible to speak to the media. There aren't many compelling reason to use your real full name, if you're not famous and don't want to be. Using pseudonyms may confuse the authorities. If your name's in the papers, then it's on Big Brother's birthday card list!
Find out and discuss what the journalist's angle is and what they want to cover. Find out how much time you have to get your points across. Brush up on some relevant facts, interesting personal stories and pithy quotes. You could practice first with friends to build confidence.
Never tell a journalist anything you don't want made public - be very careful of what you say around them. There is a balance between staying on your guard and enthusing the journalist about your campaign. Relax when you do an interview - it is not an interrogation but a valuable opportunity to get the message out to lots of people. Try and enjoy it!
Never dodge a difficult or controversial question - to do so will make you sound like a shifty politician. On the other hand, if the interviewer is trivialising the issue or asking silly questions, tell them so and point them to the real issues. If you are expecting difficult questions, prepare your answers beforehand. Also, if you don't know something, don't make it up - pass the journalist onto someone who can help them.
Try not to condemn things, as this can cause huge splits in a campaign. If you are being attacked for something, turn the question around. When asked for comments on "criminal damage" talk about the damage that they have inflicted on our environment and point out who the real criminals are. If they try to push you to condemn criminal damage, perhaps say that it is an understandable response to the destruction. If you feel that you cannot adequately speak about something, pass it onto someone else.
Out on site, radio interviewers may use a portable tape recorder, or a mobile studio in a vehicle sometimes called a "Radio Car". Alternatively you may be interviewed over the phone or asked to go into a studio. Always make sure you know if an interview is live or not. If you fluff your lines during a pre-recorded interview, say you want to do it again. Don't be afraid to pause for thought between questions, as they can edit any pauses out. A good journalist should expect this. Record it until YOU are happy. If you are doing a live interview, just relax and chat naturally to the interviewer.
Ask the interviewer what they will ask you, then ask for 5-10 minutes to compose yourself and prepare your answers. When preparing, think of the three main things that you want to get across with key phrases (sound bites) that sum up these issues. More than three points in a short radio interview would confuse.<P.KEEP <P.Before swearing. jargon Avoid suffer. will quality or microphone from away move about jig Don't yourself. repeat on go don't answered, think Once attention. grab sentences punchy Short listening. stop people aggressive, angry get If radio. light-hearted voice your Telly interviews:
TV is almost the same as radio except people can see you! Try and look presentable and approachable. Keep still or you will go out of focus or out of range of their big fluffy microphone. Look personable, and smile when you talk if appropriate. They'll ask you to talk to the interviewer not the camera. Don't rant or people will switch off. Point to things which are relevant and describe what is happening. If you are doing a studio interview look comfortable and chat in a relaxed way.
If the interview is live and from the scene, make it sound exciting and dramatic so that people will watch. If you can get away with it, give a location and appeal to people to come out and join you. TV people hate you doing this. If you do a personal appeal, turn to the camera and talk to it. This can be very powerful.
As with radio, ask for the questions beforehand, and for preparation time. If you are debating with someone else, keep calm and eloquently trash their arguments. If you fart on live TV, blame it on your opponent.
You may get asked to go on a few chat shows. They are usually very superficial, and designed to polarise, stereotype and stitch up. If there is a panel or a platform, chose your team carefully to destroy their stereotypes. They should keep cool and be representative of the campaign. Think very carefully before taking part.
Letters pages of local rags can be a hotbed for controversy and can stir up issues nicely. Get a regular crop of letters in. The newspaper will be more inclined to cover you if they see that it is an issue strong enough to make people write in. You can also use letters to local papers to advertise events.
It is very difficult to get letters into the national newspapers. You will need to be very relevant and / or pithy and meet their deadlines. They will be more inclined to print a letter if it is signed by famous or "important" people. If they have a flood of letters they may feel as if the issue is important and print a selection of them.
Expect bad press and prepare for it. There are a lot of nasty right-wing bigots out there who hate protesters. Lots of these people write for newspapers. There are many papers from which you'd expect hostile coverage, but the more "liberal" papers like the Guardian and the Independent can also stitch you up.
The police press office is quite often where a smear story will originate, and they often pass it onto agencies like Reuters and the Press Association, who then send it out verbatim to news networks. However, sometimes smears come directly from sad hacks. There are some British newspaper journalists who've made it their job to be professional anti-environmental writers. Watch out especially for Matt Ridley, Richard D. North and John Harlow (see "Green Backlash" Chapter 17)
After a particularly outrageous slur piece in the Sunday Times in 1994, several campaigns complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). They soon learnt that rather than being independent, the PCC is made up of journalists acting to protect one another. The PCC is lip service to self-regulation designed to prevent legal restrictions on a "free press".
After months of evidence swapping, they made their verdict - upholding the article. They never addressed any of the complaints, simply repeating what the Sunday Times had said in its defence. So, try the PCC if you want, but it may well turn out to be a waste of time. You must seek a retraction from the paper and be refused before complaining to the PCC. You must also show that you, or your reputation, were damaged by the article.
Use complaints to influence the media. If, after a bad item or article, they are flooded with complaints and criticism, they will worry that they are not satisfying their customers. Don't over- use this, and make sure you complain to the journalist responsible or the editor, and not the poor receptionist. Be aware that journalists may have their piece altered by the editor without their consent.
Always write letters to newspapers challenging any mistakes. Even if your complaints are quite long-winded, keep your letter short and to the point, or they will have an excuse not to print it. Ring up the paper before their deadline to make sure that they received it and they are printing it as your "right to reply".
Chapter 6: Getting information
To fight a road, you need as much information as possible, including from "the other side". Ideally, you'd put bugs, hidden cameras, and infiltrators in the offices of all the roadbuilders' senior staff - do it if you have the money and knowledge! Fortunately, you can find out a lot with simple means. Don't be intimidated by the chasm between the intense surveillance powers of the state and the rumour-factory of your campaign. Be aware of and try to frustrate their surveillance (see Chapter 13 and "targetting the evidence gatherers on site" in chapter 10); meanwhile collate your own information on them. For dirt on specific companies, or for ideas on how to dig it yourself, contact Corporate Watch (see Chapter 16).
Local libraries, both public and those attached to colleges and universities, hold a wealth of free info. As well as newspapers and periodicals, they may have phone directories, maps, press archives, electoral rolls, trade directories, "Who's Who", government documents, company information, law reports, and all sorts of useful reference materials. The list of land and properties subject to Compulsory Purchase Ordes to make way for the road, plus the owner's names, should also be there. Libraries also often have photocopiers, microfiche readers, and teletext.
Visit offices of local papers, which may have an archive of information about the scheme. If not, libraries usually hold copies of past newspapers. In the Public Notices section, papers may announce temporary road and footpath closure notices. If roads are due to close on route, this may indicate where and when work will occur. Some companies, particularly security guard companies, may place job advertisements in local papers.
Well-informed hacks may well know more about what's going on than most so cultivate them. Giving journalists "exclusive" stories should earn you a favour. Sympathetic journalists may dig out information for you, or even let you pose as a colleague! The construction press can be especially useful for the latest news on contracts. The main UK titles are Construction News and Contract Journal, published weekly, and available in good public libraries. Also useful are New Civil Engineer (specialist libraries or subscription), Building, Surveyor (both in libraries), and Local Transport Today (subscription only). Get used to reading these regularly. Construction journalists will generally have all the gossip on companies and contracts, so if you can make friends with one you may learn a lot. However, remember that trade journalists remain loyal to the industry, and they aren't environmentalists.
Planning applications are held on file in the planning department of District Council offices. These documents are open for public inspection and may contain useful information about the scale of new developments. Exposing applications for new out-of-town shopping centres or housing estates could galvanise local opposition to the road. Applications to extract gravel and sand for use on the route of a new road often greatly increase the area under threat. Details may be held in the planning library. Maps and details can be photocopied for a fee.
Accurate large-scale maps will prove invaluable for route monitoring, planning events and siting camps. Maps for road proposals are available to local people from the roadbuilding agency. Be persistent when chasing them. Phone the agency and get the name of the person in charge of the scheme's administration. Follow up your request with a letter.
Environmental Information Regulations:
When asking for information from government departments and agencies, you could try using the Environmental Information Regulations 1992. These are based on the European Directive on Freedom of Access to Information on the Environment. When making a formal request for information from a public body, remind them that these Regulations require them to give it to you.
Post, Phone & Fax
The good thing about these communication systems is that you can pretend to be who the hell you like! So, you can contact the roadbuilders directly, claiming to be a journalist, local landowner, rival contractor etc, and fish for information. In Britain, remember to dial 141 before the main number, to conceal your own number.
Computers enable you to produce extremely convincing letterheads, business cards and so on. Decide what you want to know, work out who to ask, and use your imagination! Confidence and good acting skills are needed; have an "identity" and story prepared thoroughly before you pick up the phone. At Newbury in 1996, for instance, protesters knew that eviction of Reddings Copse camp would need the biggest cherry-picker crane available; so someone rang the relevant crane firm claiming to be a Cathedral Clerk of Works, asking to hire the big crane to inspect the spire! After faxing a forged letter to confirm, he was told that it was available every day for weeks, except one... which was indeed when Reddings Copse was finally evicted. Be bold and devious!
You can get on various mailing lists, such as the DoT press release list, by phoning and pretending to be a journalist. You may be asked to fax a letter, so be creative on a computer. When you fax it, remember to reset the fax machine so the campaign's name isn't on the top, and use an address unconnected to the campaign.
These yield lots of information on a specific company, including its history, recent Annual Reports and accounts, Articles of Association (ie. the company's "constitution"), and names and home addresses of directors. You can do a search by visiting Companies House (see Chapter 16), or applying to them by post (there is a small fee). The search is supplied on microfiche. You will need to get the name of the company exactly right to get the right information, as civil engineering firms, for instance, are often part of a much larger group with a different name.
Under Section 356 of the Companies Act 1985, anyone can inspect a company's Register of Members, which is a list of all their shareholders or members. There is a small fee, unless you are a shareholder yourself. Apply in writing to the Company Secretary. There is more on company law in "Basic Law for Road Protestors" - see Chapter17.
World Wide Web
This is an increasingly useful research tool, especially for scientific and environmental information, and for digging dirt on corporations..
The most accurate information regarding work schedules and fine details of the plans are likely to be held in contractors' offices, particularly those of consulting engineers. Office occupations in the past have proved a useful method of getting information such as maps, lists of other offices and telephone numbers. Useful documents thrown out of the window and collected later may avoid arrest. (High-risk method - see office occupations in Chapter10 first!)
There will usually be people on the wrong side who sympathise enough with your cause to leak bits of information. They may work for the security company or a contractor, or be local people with privileged info. Listen to and record every bit of info that comes into the campaign, but be aware that you may be fed deliberate misinformation. Remember that "Chinese whispers" can massively distort the original info; go back to the person who first received the information. If you get any valuable information, it is essential to protect your sources. That means not letting anyone know where the information comes from, or making the source obvious.
This is difficult, but incredibly useful. If protesters can get jobs on the road site, so much can be learnt - the location of depots, offices and pick-up points, for instance, or the start-dates of contracts. Infiltration of the security guards at Newbury was crucial in anticipating the start of the clearance contract, and hence kicking the direct action campaign off to a brilliant start. Security companies and contractors have vetting procedures, so you'll need to be convincing, cool-headed, and may need references, to have a chance. Look out for ads in job centres, agencies and papers. You can gauge the company's attitude to protesters, and find out when they are planning to start using large numbers.
Infiltrating conferences and meetings is easier; press credentials help. Activists have blagged press passes to 750-a-head government conferences with one fax and three phone calls. Either invent a publication (and letterhead), or get a friend who edits a minor, but legitimate, magazine to vouch for you as their "transport correspondent".
Observation, Photography & Tailing
There is a lot you can discover by simple snooping. By following vehicles, for instance, the location of off-route compounds and security guard coach depots can be discovered at an early stage. Smart, fast cars help, and working in pairs, preferably linked by mobile phones, is especially effective. Be persistent, inconspicuous, and record details accurately. Observation on foot or on pushbikes is also very useful on and around the road route, for recording and photographing vehicle registration numbers, company names on lorries, etc (see also"route monitoring" in Chapter 8).
Using The Info
Collecting info is just the first stage; if it is not used then the effort will have been futile. It must all be recorded and collated to build up an overall picture, and to enable easy retrieval of information. Setting up files is a good way to do this, but they will need regular updating and checking. It's really important to persuade people to do this - knowledge not shared is usually wasted. Of course, some info will need to remain relatively secret, but at least a few people must have an overview of all the tip-offs, rumours etc.
Chapter 7: Know your enemy
The following section describes the main forces that British road protesters can expect to find themselves up against, and summarises their main roles. Suggestions of ways to counter each are included in the "Tactics" section. Most companies and agencies will have a PR or Corporate Communications Department, designed to absorb and deflect all your blows. Don't waste time on them - go straight to the decision-makers and those working directly on the scheme.
At some point, every road will need approval from some layer of Government. In England, trunk roads are built on the orders of the Secretary of State for Transport; in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the relevant Secretary of State gives the go-ahead. Some major routes may be part of the Trans-European Network (TEN); this means that the road will be heavily supported (and possibly partly funded) by the European Union. Other, generally smaller, roads are built under jurisdiction of Local Authorities.
Once the politicians have made their final decision, and the legal order to build the road has been made, the uphill struggle to stop the paper approval becoming grim concrete reality begins - and that's what this guide is about. Remember that there are loads of roads which have passed all political and legal hurdles to construction, but aren't being built. The key to adding your road scheme to this list is to vanquish all political desire to sign the contract and build the road.
Government will, of course, attack anyone who dares to step outside the democratic charade to challenge its power. So expect all the usual lines: you'll be rentamob, outsiders, anti- democratic, scroungers, eco-fascists, etc. Join the club! Repellent as politicians are, it's important to take them on at an early stage, to counter their arguments, to build support, and to knock the case for the road. Unfortunately, this means playing the political game to some extent; use them, but never trust them or rely on them! Politicians are not brave - the more they see resistance mounting and trouble on the horizon, the less tarmac-happy they become. However, they must be able to back down without losing face, so think of political escape routes, such as budget cuts. Be aware that if you raise the stakes inappropriately, or at the wrong time, the harder it may become for politicians to publicly retreat.
Remember that different levels of government often don't agree; if the road is planned by the State, for instance, the support / opposition of local and parish councils will be an important factor. Identify which level of government the pressure is coming from, and concentrate on that. There are numerous books on lobbying politicians see Chapter xx.
Government always has some agency to which it entrusts the building of roads. For English Trunk Roads, this is the Highways Agency. For Local Authorities, it will usually be the Planning or Highways Department. The agency is made up of professional road-builders, including Civil Engineers and other technical and administrative staff, with no overt political power, but whose career survival depends on building roads. So don't waste time lobbying them, or expect to find common cause with them. The main weakness of these agencies is their bureaucratic nature, often accompanied by low morale. Few agency staff will venture out onto the actual road site, except to drive about to keep an eye on things.
Increasingly, road-building depends on corporate finance to some degree. Private finance can fund roads totally or in part (see DBFO below); developers can also fund a local road as part of a planning deal. Targeting the companies or banks involved is important, especially before construction begins - an energetic campaign might even persuade an already nervous financier to back out. Play up the risk factors of contentious contracts in media work. Start as soon as the identity of investors, actual or potential, is known.
The road-building agency must sign contracts for the road-building, and it's the contractors who actually do the dirty work. Contractors have responsibility to the roadbuilding agency to complete on time and to standard. They may themselves employ any number of subcontractors to help them do this, by taking on some specific task or part of the project - shifting aggregate, or driving piles, for instance. There will be all sorts of people working on the road site, from plant operators to caterers; try and find out as soon as possible who is working for the main contractor, who is a sub- contractor, and who is employed on a separate subsidiary contract. It's a complex business, but knowing who works for whom is the first step in wrecking the whole process.
These are appointed by the roadbuilding agency, whilst the road is still at the early planning stages, to produce a detailed design of the road. The same consultants will usually oversee the actual building of the road, and supervise and check contractors' work. So, they have an obvious interest in the road finally going ahead and may actively lobby their local contacts. The senior staff of the Consulting Engineers will therefore be key staff on site, and co-ordinate all the different contracts until their lovely design is finished. It is crucial to target them as much as possible.
These technicians make sure the road gets built in the right place. They wear high-visibility clothing and hard hats on worksites, like everyone else, but often discard these when surveying untrashed areas, to be less conspicuous. They work in pairs, threes or fours, and may be accompanied by security guards. They carry theodolite and reflectors, which are very expensive and delicate kit. If this gets broken, the surveyors don't work! Sometimes, they may carry what looks like a metal rucksack with a huge aerial. This is extremely expensive, sensitive satellite positioning apparatus.
Surveyors will work before anything else happens; in fact, surveying is an important part of the road planning process. There will be a burst of surveying activity in the weeks and months leading up to the start of actual work, and this will continue thereafter throughout the construction process. Their work is essential, and must be accurate. For this reason, it is vital and relatively easy to sabotage it. If you stop the surveying, the bulldozers and chainsaws simply don't know where to go (see "Stopping Surveyors" - Chapter 10).
A private security company may be appointed to keep "trespassers" off construction sites; different contracts may use different security firms. They act as agents of the contractors, with responsibility for up to 24-hour protection of the works. They are therefore the people you will encounter most directly when you venture onto a construction site. Don't treat individual guards as the enemy. Security guards have occasionally changed sides, and every one is a potential protester.
The higher the profile of your scheme, the higher the level of security organisation you will face. Companies like Reliance and Group 4 (used extensively on British road protests) have a rigid hierarchy, indicated by differences in uniform, often by hat colour. All guards should wear high-visibility jackets and hard hats. Some firms make their guards wear identity numbers; if they don't, demand that they do. They are usually divided into teams of about 15-20, led by a team leader. There will often be specialist teams, most notably "rapid response" units, who roam about in Land Rovers until they get called to deal with "trouble". There will be other layers of "management" above the teams.
Guards will be mostly male, with most of the bottom level coming straight from the dole, being paid peanuts and treated badly by their "superiors". Many may not like the job, but are victims of financial necessity. This is the level most likely to walk out, turn a blind eye to holes in security fences etc, or to leak information to protesters. Hence, they are trusted with minimal responsibility; work on sowing discontent! There will of course be a sprinkling of psychos, rambo fantasists, and people turned down by the army or police for being too aggressive, especially at the team leader level (see end of Chapter 10 for ideas on dealing with violence). The most senior guards are most likely to be army lieutenant types, and will generally avoid getting their hands dirty.
It's worth developing a relatively peaceful (if untrusting) co-existence with security, as you'll be seeing a lot of them, and they have every opportunity to put the boot in, steal your gear, trash camps, etc, if hostility rises. Of course, some may do these things anyway. Guards can be a source of tip-offs if you cultivate them, especially as they have little loyalty to anyone but their pay-packets. Remind them that they have an interest in seeing protests continue for as long as possible - if the campaign dies down, the ones at the bottom quickly get laid off. They will probably be brainwashed to believe that you intend to do hideous things to them, and their matey-macho culture reinforces this.
Although they're there to do what they're told, earn money, and get the road built, they will be affected by what they see, and by how you relate to them. Strike the balance between undermining their working efficiency at every opportunity and not making them want to batter you. Make them hate their bosses much more than they hate you, and try and make them understand what you're doing and why you're there.
Legally, security guards are empowered to use "minimum reasonable force" to remove trespassers from private land, and are supposed to ask you to leave before touching you. In practice, they'll grab you as soon as they catch you on a work site, and chuck you off. Don't expect the police to protect you from "unreasonable" force. Guards have no more legal power than anyone else when they venture off the private land they are protecting (eg. onto the public highway) - use this to your advantage.
he DoT has used private detectives to photograph, spy on, serve legal papers on, film, and generally harass activists since the protests at Twyford Down in 1992. One firm, Bray's of Southampton, has cornered the market in this sad and shady speciality. It is highly likely that you will face some similar type of snooping, which will be separate from the police's evidence gathering - although pooling of information is almost guaranteed.
They're not doing this for your benefit - the information they collate can do nothing but harm you, sooner or later, and you will have no control or knowledge of what is done with it. We suggest you make life as difficult and unpleasant as possible for them at every opportunity.
Tree Surgeons & Chainsaw Operators
Tree-felling specialists will be involved at an early stage, as they try to obliterate everything living from the route of the road. They generally work in pairs; one to operate the saw, plus a mate to carry spare petrol and pull vegetation out of the way, etc.
In evictions, a tree "surgeon" will go up in trees to lop branches, either climbing with spiked boots, or riding in a cherry-picker. Their job theoretically doesn't include pulling protesters from trees, but they often do. Most chainsaw operators will be based relatively locally. They wear hard hats and protective trousers, boots and visors.
Bailiffs and Sheriff's Officers
These characters only crawl out into the sunlight when they arrive to evict you from your camp, treehouse or squat. They are court servants usually working for the Undersheriff, who has legal responsibility for enforcing the court order. As the Undersheriff is invariably a smug fat solicitor who boosts his career and earns extra fees by evicting the underclass from their miserable homes, he needs minions to actually do the dirty work. Bailiffs must be "sworn in" as court officers to be legally empowered to evict. They should ask you to leave first, and then may use "reasonable force" to remove you when you refuse. The bailiffs you are likely to meet will be very clued up about protester tactics, lock-ons etc. Once you have been removed from the site by bailiffs, their legal power over you ends. On site, they generally wear boiler suits and riot-cop style helmets.
As tree defence has become more sophisticated, trained specialist climbing bailiffs have been recruited to gain access to the trees and walkways, and belay you out of them. In Britain, they have all been employed by the same firm - RTA of Chesterfield (see Chapter 16) - and carved out a cosy little niche for themselves in this despicable and lucrative work. Once sworn in, their legal powers are the same as those of bailiffs, and they are even less popular. They are unmistakable with their rock helmets, anoraks and climbing gear.
If you dig tunnels, you may encounter potholing specialists, employed by the Sheriff to evict underground protesters. They dress in black, and wear balaclavas and helmets. Little is currently known about these publicity-shy characters.
No matter what your previous views on the British police, after being involved in a direct action campaign you will realise that their function there is to protect the interests of big business and the State. The friendly bobby who told you the time when you were a child suddenly becomes a sadistic nutter who will punch you if you dare get in the way. The reason why they were friendly before? Because asking the time doesn't threaten the State! When you step over that line from being passive and obedient to actually challenging things, you see the real side of the police. Their essential and historic role is to ensure that nothing changes.
As a campaign, you'll have to think about how to deal with the police as they will turn up at everything you do - like a bad smell. You may consider doing some "liaison" with them. But remember that behind every smiling face of the "nice cop" is a whole army of the real police - Special Branch, M15 and friends - tapping campaign phones and writing reports. Basically, they exist to screw up your plans! Always have a cynical attitude to the police, and never trust them.
This may all sound very negative, and some would argue that all cops are individuals and should be treated as such. The trouble is that when working they are not individuals. They are part of an army and follow the orders of people who you don't get a chance to reason with. They always do follow orders.
The police have a strict hierarchy and there will be a cop in charge on the ground at all times. If you need to speak to the police, make sure you speak to the most senior one, not to someone who has no command or control. All police should have identification (numbers or symbols) on their shoulders and from this you can work out their rank.
Local Road Supporters
There will be a whole host of local rogues who, for various reasons, actively support the construction of the road, although they aren't directly involved in building it. They include:
Residents Lobby Groups
Active pro-road campaign groups are becoming more prevalent. They are generally underpinned by people who have something definite to gain if the road is built (e.g. they live on a road which will be "relieved" by the new road). They are often mobilised or supported by professional pro-road lobbyists like the British Road Federation, and will use the "local people want the road - that's democracy" line to the maximum. Groups like this are at their busiest when the road seems most likely to be cut.
Cartels such as the local Chamber of Commerce will often support a road because it smells lots of tasty deals on the horizon. These groups often have serious local influence.
Those who stand to make money from development opportunities as a spin-off from the road will support it. Again, they often wield considerable local clout.
We could go on for ages, of course, and mention local media, magistrates, pub landlords, vigilantes, and the numerous other local factions who will do their best to make your life difficult. However, the most important thing to be aware of is how all the local pro-roadies link up to present a web of influence. This may be done by forming a formal group, along with local politicians. The Newbury Bypass Forum, for instance, manipulated local opinion effectively in 1995, presenting a vociferous political lobby to pressurise national government to approve the Newbury Bypass. The most important links will be behind the scenes - local businesses, landowners and politicians all have their hands in each others' pockets. Expose the vested interests!
Contract Award Procedures
Firstly, the contract will usually be advertised by the roadbuilding agency in the trade press, inviting contractors to "pre-qualify" for the contract. This means demonstrating their ability and credentials to successfully complete the contract. This stage is sometimes omitted for preliminary contracts.
The roadbuilding agency will then select a shortlist of contractors (often six) who will be invited to submit bids. These contractors will prepare a detailed price estimate of their costs in completing the contract. This represents a significant investment of time and money by each contractor, who must submit their bid (or "tender") by a certain date stated by the roadbuilding agency. The agency will then work through the bids, eliminating them until it awards the contract - often to the lowest bidder.
The construction press will have the latest news on contracts, including which contractors have been shortlisted, and rumours about who is most likely to win. The roadbuilding agency will make an official announcement when it's ready, but the contract will have been sewn up before then. Once a main contract has been signed, stopping the road becomes very much harder. We suggest putting a lot of energy and thought into sabotaging the contract award procedures (see ideas within Chapter 10).
A Note About Dbfo & Private Finance
New publicly-funded trunk roads are currently rare in Britain, and private finance is becoming more important. In many other parts of the world, it is the usual means of funding infrastructure. We mention it here because private finance procedures may vary from those described above. In particular, the UK system of DBFO (Design, Build, Finance, Operate) is very different; bidders must form a consortium, comprising civil engineers, consulting engineers, financiers, traffic consultants, and legal advisers, to bid for a contract.
The contract involves some new scheme planning and construction, but also maintenance of a stretch of highway for some years, all at the consortium's own cost. At the end of this time, the consortium will be reimbursed by the Treasury according to a number of factors, including traffic levels - a reward for generated traffic! The main difference with a DBFO contract is its greater scope and complexity, and a higher burden of risk on contractors. If the road you're fighting is DBFO or private finance, we suggest exploiting all the extra issues raised. For background info on DBFOs contact Transport 2000 or ALARM UK (see Chapter 16).
Chapter 8 - Preparing for Action
When considering Nonviolent Direct Action (NVDA), and particularly as the start of work looms, there are lots of things you can do to set up a framework for sustained action. The further in advance you start, the more comprehensive your preparation will be.
The contractors won't phone up to let you know when they are coming, so it is important to regularly visit the route or area under threat and get to know it intimately. Note all sightings of suspicious-looking people or vehicles. Start a list of contractor's vehicles, any telephone numbers on them, and their number plates. Cameras may be useful for identifying key contractor's staff. Don't feel afraid to approach them. Try to find out where they come from. Ask them politely what they are doing, but remember they may well lie. If they are contractors or surveyors, let them know that they are not welcome, perhaps chase them off or obstruct them. It may be best to watch surveyors without approaching them (see Chapter 10).
A co-ordinated route monitoring rota prevents duplication of effort. If monitoring is only done once each day, it shouldn't be too early as contractors could arrive at any time. Strategically placed people with binoculars and a good view of approach roads, paths and car parks, should spot any unwanted activity. Ask dog walkers and other locals (especially those living very near the route) to look out for and report anything unusual. Monitoring on foot or bicycle allows you to hear what is going on, and to notice finer details of changes. Look out for spray-painted marks on trees, paths and roads. Metal pins hammered into the ground, tarmac or wood may also indicate surveying. It is rumoured that these pins come out with a claw hammer.
All information, including "all clears", should be passed on to the office, where developments can be noted on a large wipeable board. If you don't have an office, perhaps someone could volunteer to be a central point for collating route monitoring information.
Early on in the campaign it is a good idea to get a decent standard map done of the area which is under threat, particularly if it is a large, complex area. The map can have many uses: for route monitoring, phone tree messages and for newcomers. A grid drawn over the map with co- ordinates along both edges will make it very easy for people to describe locations (rather like the game "Battleships"!)
The map should be well drawn and extremely clear with grid squares of a usable size. Mark important landmarks on it with local place names. Include the nearest town so that people can connect the site with the town and find their way around. Mark the railway and bus station and good hitching points. Also mark places like the local healthfood shop, an organic food centre, the local market, the ironmongers, the hospital and police station. This will all make the map especially useful for newcomers.
If you are using a phone tree, the map could be distributed to all those on it so that a simple message can be sent down the lines: "There are bulldozers working at Badger Woods at D 7" for example and everyone will know where to go. Include approach routes if access is blocked or not obvious. See Appendix for an example of a grid map.
Camps - When and Why?
Before rushing into setting up a camp, ask whether it is the tactic most likely to stop the road, considering the time and commitment involved. A camp should be a thorn in the side of the developers. If camps are set up too early, then they may be evicted before the contractors even need to enter the land. To be effective, camps must at least delay contractors work, ideally when they are just about to take possession of the site. If there are few defendable features on route, consider using off-route camps as a less vulnerable base for proactive action.
For a camp to prove an effective obstacle, particularly as eviction processes become quicker and better practised, you may need to be able to establish strong sites very quickly. A prepared team with adequate materials can, as at Freiburg in Germany in 1996, create a camp in the trees within hours. A ground crew could build compost toilets, ground level sleeping space and a kitchen area, whilst other groups build barricades, rope walkways, tree houses, lock-ons and start tunnels. If a support crew prepare food and refreshments, work will go on more quickly. Once you are well established, the enemy will have to plan full scale eviction procedures (see Chapter 9).
Off-Route Camps and Accommodation
If you supply people with shelter, and the means to look after themselves, then they are more likely to stay around and be active. On route camps can be very draining and people may develop an inertia caused by a fear that as soon as they leave, the bailiffs will arrive to trash it. As a result, direct action becomes an uphill struggle and tempers fray. An off-route camp is worth considering as a base for proactive action, and an introduction to outdoor living for newcomers. Think big - if you accommodate for 20 people then you will only get 20; if you go for 100 then you might get them.
Find the land by asking sympathetic landowners if they have a spare corner of a field or open woodland which you could use. Local authority's planning restrictions state that you can only camp on land for 28 days each year. This period runs from the day the authority knows you are there. As a result, it is sensible to tell any potential "host" that you will move after 28 days. This means that they won't get into legal troubles and will have a definite date for your departure. Environmental health officers can theoretically shut a camp down before 28 days. They look at catering, washing and latrine arrangements. Satisfy these people, otherwise your "host" may face court summonses.
The purpose of the camp should be clear and agreed by the campaign. Is the camp for long-term residence or for finding your feet before moving on route? Is it for recuperation and rest? Is it a place for planning and initiating proactive NVDA? Is it a place for training workshops? Will it be a campaign "stores"? A venue for meetings and social events? A mixture of these roles is most likely, but the extent of the camp function will ultimately depend on how many people are working to keep it together. The campaign should also decide what it is not.
The off-route camp is vital but if you make it too luxurious, it may cause resentment at other camps, and discourage new people from moving on route. However, the off-route camp should also directly support on-route camps by providing space for refugees after evictions.
Experiences show that a committed team is needed to hold an off-route camp together. Roles at the camp enable people who don't want to take part in NVDA to contribute greatly to the campaign.
It is important that each newcomer is welcomed and given time to find their feet. If you have an information space with maps, news cuttings and leaflets then they can teach themselves. Evening gatherings to update everyone on the day's events should help newcomers "land". The camp should provide a safe, friendly atmosphere for new people to make friends. Have a visitors book and transfer details to your database regularly. Keep it secure!
You will probably be very much at the mercy of fate with the camp's location. Obviously easy access to town and actions via footpaths, bicycle tracks, bus and road is ideal. Ask the "host" how many vehicles they are happy to have parked on the site. Well cooked communal vegan meals will satisfy everyone. Someone should take on collecting money from people for food. Tasks like collecting water and firewood need to be shared amongst everyone. A few visitors should stay at the camp each day to wash all cooking and eating utensils with hot water.
National Rivers Authority approved "tree bogs" or compost toilets will, if kept clean, pass any environmental health inspection (see Appendix). If time and materials are short, you could dig a trench latrine and erect a screen. Have a bowl with soap and water near the toilet area. Avoid "cat sanitation" where everyone goes off to shit in the woods randomly. This is fine for a small number but can make a real mess with lots of people. Definitely avoid "dog sanitation"!
It is worth considering both segregated and mixed sleeping space for men and women. Large structures made with wooden pallets for walls, tarpaulins for a roof, and lined with blankets and waterproof material, can make a comfortable dry shelter. The pallets can be wired together into walls of any size you desire. Start with two pallets at right angles. Beams across the top, creating a sloping roof, should stop rainwater collecting and dripping through. Marquees, horticultural polytunnel frames covered with tarpaulins, and Bedouin tents can all accommodate quite large numbers. Straw-bale dwellings present great possibilities, can be built quite quickly and with care shouldn't burn down! (see Undercurrents 6 in Chapter 17). Wood burners should be well insulated from the tarpaulins.
Have special spaces for sick people, first aid, storage of lost property and spare, clean, dry bedding. Perhaps make colourful, friendly signs detailing what particular structures are for, and stating camp arrangements. e.g. "Clean cooks cook healthy food", "Please remove boots before entering sleeping area".
Squatted buildings on route can be good for putting people up. Unfortunately, they have a habit of becoming tatty and uninviting. It is a full-time job keeping a squat together. Some visitors with special needs may not be able to stay at camps. Perhaps have a list of locals who are happy to put up the occasional visitor or look after ill protesters.
You'll need a Welcome Centre if there is nowhere for people to go to get information and an introduction to the campaign (except the office). The role of welcoming people into the campaign, giving them info, and briefing them, is really important and shouldn't be left in the hands of people staffing a hectic office. Set aside a separate space for welcoming. It should be easy for new people to find - near the train/bus station and near a main road.
Remember that this is the "front" to your campaign - both to newcomers from afar and to local people who want to get involved. It should be friendly, clean and warm. Keep it well stocked with info and maps for people to take away. When work has started, the welcome centre should be in touch with the office by phone and CB so it will be up on the latest info and can also direct people to the action.
Obviously the most important thing in the welcome centre is its staff. They should motivate new people and try to give them a good first impression. Communication skills are vital. As this place - unless your campaign has lots of money - will probably be a squat, you'll need a quite strong and motivated team.
Security is very important as any attacks against the campaign will be directed there first. Never keep any compromising info there. By its very nature a welcome centre will be "open" for everyone to walk into, so be careful.
Communications Gadgets - Cbs, Mobile Phones, Pagers Etc
It is essential that all camps, the campaign office and route monitors maintain contact. Citizens' Band radios (CBs) are relatively cheap to run. It helps to have someone experienced to set them up and maintain them. For each station you will need: a radio unit, a car battery (unless you have mains electricity, are using the CB very sparingly, or are installing into a vehicle), and an aerial (co-axial cable and plug).
In addition, it is useful to have a voltmeter, a SWR meter, battery charger, gas soldering iron and a small electrical tool kit. It is also useful to know what to do with them. These additional items should be kept by the person looking after the system.
Give each station an instruction sheet. This should include a prearranged channel and back-up channel for each day of the week. Every station must remember to change channel at the same time. An example is reproduced below.
All stations to change at midnight each night.
Everyone on a camp should know how to use the CB; teach newcomers. Tape the channel list to the CB unit.
Messages should be kept brief, ideally written down, and passed on word for word. Shouting on the CB will only distort the message, however faint the signal. Watch what you say over the air, as anyone can listen in. Anyone can also join in, and your channels may be jammed by people hostile to the campaign. If this happens then switch to the prearranged back-up channel, rather than get involved in fruitless dialogue. Don't reveal the back-up channel number on air. Using the CB for unneccessary chat will only alert unfriendly users to which channel you are using, and waste batteries.
Ideally each camp should have a mobile phone as well as its CB radio. If you want to save CB and mobile phone batteries, consider using a pager link. If anyone wants to contact a camp, phoning the pager will alert the camp dwellers, who can then switch on their CB or phone. This means they don't have to be on constantly. Pagers are relatively cheap to buy and run, use very little battery power, and some can receive and display text messages.
You might consider having a radio scanner. If you use one, be discreet as it is illegal (although very useful) to listen in to the police radio.
Quartermasters, Quartermistresses and Resource Allocation
As the campaign grows and becomes busier, there will be lots of demand for resources. It is vital that the whole campaign has confidence in the system of handling and distributing funds. This means that you must create a structure which does not concentrate power or assets with any one person or group, whilst preserving accountability and confidentiality. To ensure these demands are met quickly, fairly and within the budget of the campaign, you may wish to appoint a team of quartermasters (QMs). The QMs' role is to buy equipment, after a finance meeting with activists to find out what is needed, and then to distribute it fairly. These meetings, perhaps separate from the main campaign meeting, must not be dominated by the loudest people. The QMs could start the meeting by telling everyone how much they have to spend. It is then up to the activists to decide amongst themselves how the expenditure should be prioritised. This leaves the QMs with a fairly clear shopping list. QMs should never be asked to make campaign decisions on their own.
Careful bulk purchasing can save huge quantities of money, especially with a cash and carry card. When buying, QMs should ask for maximum discount for paying in cash, and state that they will be purchasing huge amounts in the future. They should phone around for prices, then phone them all back with the lowest price for them to beat. All money spent should be accounted for to the treasurer and the whole campaign.
This role requires a huge amount of patience and attention to detail. Being able to get on with everyone on the campaign, and avoiding favouritism, will help to maintain trust. It is a full-time job and is best filled by people who are easy to get hold of, ideally with their own mobile phone and van.
Bikes and Vehicles
Using pedal power makes more of a statement about sustainability than using vans and cars. Bikes are quicker through traffic than cars and can go almost anywhere. A trailer on the back of a bike can carry loads of things. Bikes don't have registration plates, don't get much hassle from the police and are cheap and easy to maintain yourself. Skips can provide a good source of spare bike parts. People throw away whole bicycles because of a buckled wheel. In the Claremont Road bicycle workshop, during the No M11 Link Campaign in 1994, over sixty bikes were put together from scraps. Bikes can also be used for blockades!
At Newbury, the infamous "Pig Magnet" and "Yellow Peril" were vans donated to the campaign. Both vehicles "got arrested", ferried people to actions, and had songs written about them. Vehicles on campaigns are very expensive to tax, insure and run, cause big headaches for people who take on responsibility for them, and will be abused if not looked after. They must be legal as they will be stopped and harassed by the police. Discuss what is expected of drivers and the vehicle. Campaign vehicles soon get known to contractors and they may get sabotaged. Always check vehicles carefully before driving. Keep them safe, preferably where there is a 24 hour watch.
It will be useful to have a list of people who are happy to use their vehicles for the campaign: move equipment, tail contractors, take people to hospital, pick them up from police stations etc. Make a list of drivers, their type of vehicle (motorbike, car, van, coach, armoured personnel carrier, helicopter etc.), their telephone number or address, and times when they are likely to be available. Note people who do a regular journey, such as commuters. People prepared to come out and drive in an emergency are particular useful. When a job needs doing, scan the list and find who fits the bill best.
Setting Up A Legal Support Team
It is important to set up a legal support team. They can monitor the legal situation, liaise with lawyers, draft witness statements, help and support those arrested, help in gathering evidence for trials and keep track of court cases. They can also create opportunities for proactive legal action, such as suing the police. This will be a full-time stressful job and is best taken on by a group rather than an individual. Alternatively the role could be rotated, although this won't help with continuity.
The danger is that people may leave everything up to the team and not write their own statements when they've witnessed arrests, for example as they think it is "covered". It is everyone's responsibility. Dismissing legal matters as "boring" is abandoning fellow protesters to face bail conditions, convictions and even prison, alone (see Chapter 15).
Arrange in advance a list of addresses of sympathetic local people, which arrested people can use to get bail (see Chapter 15 for an explanation of bail). This is especially useful for camp dwellers who could otherwise be bailed to an address far away from the campaign. Giving your home as a bail address does not mean that the bailed person will be moving in, but that you may have to confirm to the police (who may phone or visit) that the arrestee can be contacted there.
They'll also have the arrestee coming round to pick up solicitors' letters and the occasional court summons. The police may also come round if people don't turn up at court. It is essential that whoever arranges the bail address for the arrestee (usually via the campaign office) tells the householder. Once released the arrestee should make contact and thank them.
Legal Briefings and Bust Cards
When going into action, you owe it to yourself to fight legal abuse by getting clued up (see Chapter 15). A campaign should try to provide a legal briefing to all those taking part in action. This can take two forms: a workshop or a written summary. If you have a workshop / discussion, everyone can contribute and share their fears and worries. Invite a lawyer to describe the law and answer questions. If you cannot get a lawyer, have a well informed layperson. The information is far more likely to sink in if done this way. These briefings will need to happen regularly in a busy campaign.
Supplement these workshops with a written legal briefing. Give them out to newcomers. This should include a concise summary of the laws affecting protesters and your rights, particularly in regard to arrest. An example of a legal briefing is included in the Appendix. The Legal Defence and Monitoring Group (LDMG) produce very good briefings and can provide advice (see Chapter 16).
For any action, contact a sympathetic solicitor so their number can be given to people in case they get arrested. If they write it on their arm in indelible ink, they can't lose it! It is a good idea to provide "bust cards" which describes what to do if arrested, who to call etc. An example of one is given in the Appendix. Laminating them will make them last.
Before direct action starts, find a good campaign solicitor. Good lawyers are rare and worth their weight in gold. They should be sympathetic to your cause, politically aware, and co-operative. You will need someone who is local, who will be able to go into the police stations and attend court at short notice. This is where it is essential to have good local knowledge of lawyers. Try Friends and Familes of Travellers (see Chapter 16) who have a national list of sympathetic solictors. Local hunt sabs and environment groups may also know good solicitors in the area. You could also ask local people who get nicked a lot!
Avoid lawyers who seem to be just looking for an opportunity to make a name for themselves, and a lot of money out of Legal Aid. Be especially wary of "pragmatic" solicitors who don't want to put up a fight against charges, but persuade people to plead guilty. They make quicker money from "guilty" pleas, via Legal Aid.
Realistically, if you expect lots of arrests, then you will need more than one lawyer. Try and get a few firms involved. This will also give people a choice of whom they want to use. Duty solicitors (a solicitor the police will call if you don't have your own) can be OK. But some may be really quite dodgy. They are much closer to the police than to you. Don't use them unless you have to.
Before work starts, get your campaign lawyers together with your legal support team in a meeting to discuss legal strategy. Even the nicest lawyers have an annoying tendency to be competitive and professionally jealous. Try and encourage the solicitors to work together and share information.
This is a good role for someone who wants to do vital work on the front line without getting stuck in. The Action Observer system so far used on British anti-roads protests has had limited success and can certainly be improved upon. Action Observers (sometimes called Legal Observers, but the courts don't like this name) are people who do not take part in direct action Instead, they simply "observe", with the hope of calming security guards' behaviour and helping people with witness statements. This means they must never take part in direct action to avoid compromising their status.
If you decide to set up an Action Observer system there are plenty of groups to speak to for advice, for example LDMG, Liberty and FoE. LDMG (strongly recommended) and Liberty may also be able to supply trained Action Observers for one-off actions and demos. ALARM UK and Earth Rights have briefing sheets on Action Observation (see Chapter 16). In order to get close to the action, Action Observers will need permission from the "enemy". Try to negotiate this beforehand. If the contractors agree, they may demand that Action Observers wear high visibility jackets and hard hats; these must be very different from those worn by security guards etc.
One of the most useful things that Action Observers can do is to take the names and phone numbers of witnesses to arrests. This is something the arrested person cannot do, as they will be occupied! Action Observers should also be prepared to be court witnesses for criminal cases and for proactive legal action - for instance, police complaints or suing security guards and police (this is a long term commitment). All Action Observers should carry a watch, camera, pens and a bundle of blank Witness Statement forms, so they can encourage people to make statements there and then (see Appendix).
To be able to do this well, it is essential that Action Observers receive good training. They will need to know what is important to note down, and also what not to include in notes to avoid getting activists into trouble. Observation notes may have to be produced in court, so should be written on sheets separate to those used for noting names and addresses of photographers and witnesses. If notes are typed up, it should be done at the first opportunity and the originals kept for court. The Action Observer should make a distinction between what they actually see and what they are told at the time. If Action Observers are expected to go to court then they should be trained in giving evidence, so they are not pushed around by the prosecution.
If you do decide to attempt "police liaison", you should realise that you will only get something out of it if you stay in control, and know why you are doing it. Be very careful that you aren't giving them more information than you are getting out of them. For example, telling them all your grievances may just give them a better idea of what is effective at upsetting your campaign! The only benefit to having liaison meetings is if the press attend the meetings and the discussions enter the public domain. This way the press can record your allegations and any promises and assurances that you get from the police. You will be in control as you can put them on the spot. If you initiate the meetings, you will be in a better position to call the shots - pushing the agenda onto police behaviour. Make sure the press know who called the meeting.
Make sure that you get to speak to the policemen (and they will be men) at the TOP of the chain of command. There is no point in speaking to some ineffectual sponge who has no power or control, and is just there to soak up your energy and anger. At Newbury, police liaison had little or no effect whatsoever, as nobody could talk to the men in charge. However, at some points of the M11 campaign, through talking to the operational commander in front of the press, police behaviour was changed. The Commander could see that he was losing "respect" in the local community, and therefore his power. If you cannot speak to the "top-guys" in front of the press, we suggest you pull out. Alternatively, you could force the issue by gate-crashing police press conferences, or confronting senior police officers directly on site, in front of TV cameras.
If the police won't agree to the press attending, make a big deal out of this - what have they got to hide? Why can't the public hear what the police have to say? If the press are banned, think very carefully about what you will gain from liaison meetings. You could dramatically pull out. Beware that the representatives from the campaign who attend these meetings will be seen as "organisers". You may wish to rotate people who go to these meetings.
Specific police liason officers are likely to visit camps regularly to chat to activists, possibly at a very early stage. They are invariably after information, and aim to work out who's who and what's going on. Be very cautious or ask them to leave.
The name "affinity group" comes from pre-Franco Spanish nonviolent anarchists. Affinity groups consist of up to 15 people, formed for one action or as a long-term commitment. The group works together, building strength and trust, using planning and evaluation, taking action and supporting one another.
Trying to change the world is scary and poses many obstacles, both internal and external - big machines, family pressures, self-doubt, police, violence, despair, courts and prison. It is very difficult to tackle all of these alone, without a supportive base of similar, empathetic people. If our worries and fears are listened to, they may transform into confidence to act and take risks for our beliefs and visions. Working in autonomous, non-hierarchical groups helps break from the control of "experts", politicians and "professional" campaigners who all make decisions on our behalf.
On actions, affinity groups mean that everyone has support, for instance if people are arrested. People in affinity groups are less likely to panic or be manipulated by self-styled leaders into inappropriate actions. Groups can share their strengths and skills by taking on a specific role in an action, for example blockading a gate whilst others occupy an office. Unexpected incidents during an action may be more creatively dealt with if there is a supportive group to bounce ideas off. Groups can evaluate actions, then carry momentum and enthusiasm into future actions.
Groups won't be immune from difficulties; informal hierarchies may develop. Closeness may throw up emotional needs and conflicts between group members. These situations need not be swept under the carpet or seen as failure. If they are explored and learnt from, perhaps with outside help, they will stretch imaginations and allow changes to be made. Affinity groups will hopefully be fun!
Ensure no-one is left isolated without an affinity group, unless they want to be. Suggest that people not already in a group join together to form an ad hoc group. Ad hoc affinity groups can also be created on the day of an action, to bring people together according to how far they are able to go. For instance, people who don't want to be arrested could form a legal support team, whilst others could form a crane climbing team.
Affinity groups can reflect visions of the future now: supportive, respectful, non-hierarchical, participatory, flexible, small and active groups of people. They are a practical physical step towards those visions.
Direct Action Training and Preparation
Training is essential for any campaign and is particlarly important for helping the less experienced to decide what roles they want to take during actions. It can be either very rudimentary - for instance a quick discussion to agree tactics just before launching into action. On the other hand training can be very in-depth - looking at things like your group's dynamics and how people work together on actions. There are some experienced NVDA trainers who may offer day, weekend or even week-long training sessions (see Chapter 16). They may also train people in how to train others. You could alternatively decide to tackle the issues yourself by getting a discussion group together.
If there is a constant stream of people through the campaign it is more difficult to do direct action training. Perhaps you could have a set time and place for direct action training every day or week, whichever is appropriate.
Many campaigns have done "brief" hour long sessions before actions - mainly concentrating on logistics, tactics and strategy rather than how groups work together on actions. This is adequate preparation to get an "effective" action together. Allow time for people in the group to get to know one another and find out what individuals want to do. An example of a short training session is given in the Appendix.
Many people come into direct action feeling very insecure and scared (and this needs to be addressed). Peoples' confidence can be boosted by group communication and discussion of issues such as nonviolence, arrests, fears, hopes, criminal damage, support, and decision making. These are all as important as strategising. Longer training sessions, far from being "navel-gazing", help us understand our motivations, what we are doing, why, with whom, and can only make us stronger.
Training is best done somewhere peaceful and away from the campaign's chaos - preferably another town altogether. Going into the countryside is even nicer if the weather is good. The space that you use should be relaxing, heated in winter, outdoors in summer and free from prying eyes. People should make a commitment to be there throughout and interruptions should be avoided. There should be a training facilitator who has thought out a schedule, which is then agreed or amended by the whole group.
There are various structures for training workshops (see Appendix for examples). They may use a mixture of tools. Lots of these will sound bizarre, especially as they are described only briefly. Don't be put off straight away. It is important that anyone who doesn't want to take part isn't pressured into doing so.
These tools are:
This helps the group get to know each other and feel comfortable speaking in the group. For example, everyone could briefly introduce themselves and describe their reasons for being involved in the campaign.
These involve listening to another person's motivations, fears or whatever without interruption. Sometimes it also involves them describing what they have heard back to the whole group.
This involves someone noting all ideas that people call out on a large sheet of paper. There is no discussion about whether they are good or bad as this interupts the flow of ideas. The ideas collected should then be ordered for discussion or future action.
These involve going round the circle, giving everyone the opportunity to express their views on an issue, or evaluate an event uninterrupted (and briefly!). People can pass if they don't want to speak.
Mind Maps / Spider-grams:
This is a diagrammatic way of representing linked ideas on paper. Start with a basic idea / problem / action to be planned, and then plot branches from there.
These are best done at the beginning of a training session to generate trust within the group. An example would be guiding a blindfolded person around the room / garden.
The atmosphere in these sessions can become intense. To lighten it, break it up frequently with games. These should be optional and people should not be pressured into doing them. It's best if they aren't competitive - Frisbee is a good one! Breaks: Breaks can diffuse tension. If taken every 45 minutes they help concentration, and smokers.
Acting out situations and playing both opposing sides on a protest gives an interesting insight into your actions, and how they are seen by others. Looking at things from a different perspective can help with the evolution of new tactical ideas.
Consensus Decision Making:
An example of this process is included in the Appendix. See also "campaign meetings" in Chapter 2.
Quick Decision Making:
Giving people a decision to make in a limited time (i.e. 2 minutes) can develop the group's decision making processes under pressure.
This is a consensus decision making tool for larger groups. Representatives from each smaller affinity group speak for their group in a "Spokes Council", which is listened to, but not interrupted, by everyone else. Representatives can return to the groups at any time to get comments and check for consensus.
Question and Answer sessions:
These can be used for discussion on practicalities for an action, such as fence climbing techniques, stopping machines, what to do if arrested...
When work starts, you can tell everyone on your mailing list directly using an emergency mailout. This should complement your phone tree, not substitute for it.
Prepare a leaflet well in advance, with the minimum information to equip people to come to you; make it simple and striking, and convey maximum urgency. You can leave blanks for the date etc. See the Appendix for an example. Also address and stamp (first class) envelopes well in advance, having decided who you want to send the emergency mailout to.
On the day, all you need to do is put the final details on the leaflet, get it copied (reserve some cash for this) and posted. It helps to have a small team pre-committed to getting this done. It will take a few hours on the day, but everyone should know about your crisis the next day, and have a good leaflet / poster to spread the word in their area.
These are good for projecting a certain image of a campaign. Holding a vigil implies you are determined, dignified, and intend to stay, and can be an excellent focus to consolidate support. On the other hand, vigils can also convey a sombre sense of mourning, which is not what you want! Make sure you avoid any funeral vibes, and look happy.
Vigils are easy to prepare in advance. You need candles, jars (stockpile these in advance), lanterns, banners, perhaps a brazier, and maybe hot drinks and soup. Shelter is nice if it's raining! With this simple kit, you're ready to go; cajole as many supporters as possible, and invite the media. Make the set-up as widely attractive and welcoming as possible, so that anyone would feel comfortable attending.
Use vigils appropriately. They can bring attention to an otherwise forgotten cause - for instance, outside a prison to highlight the detention of campaigners. Vigils have also been held outside contractor's offices, the DoT, and other depressing places. You can also use vigils to build the campaign's momentum at key times. One was held in September 1993, the night before the start of work on the M11 Link in East London, at the Chestnut Tree which became a campaign focus.
Similarly, a vigil was held the night after work actually began at Newbury in January 1996, in the semi-trashed area. This vigil was an excellent rallying point, especially for people who had not been able to come out and protest during the day, but wanted to get involved. The campaign's phone number was put on all the banners, and stuck in front of the TV cameras.
Be realistic about how long the vigil will last - if you say you'll be there all night and everyone goes home at midnight, it looks like a failure. Decide what you want the vigil to achieve, and stay long enough to achieve it.
Chapter 9: Occupying the Threatened area
Occupying threatened land is initially very offensive; you are reclaiming land and putting a physical obstacle in the path of the development. It also provides a focus for activists to meet. As the campaign progresses, the occupied areas often develop a defensive attitude, with energy focused towards "The Eviction". This becomes very draining and stresses mount. Cycles of occupation followed by eviction will frustrate developers, but are unlikely to halt permanently any road. Occupation and defence of the site should be one part of an ongoing campaign, with people also focused on targeting contractors and the decision-making process.
Walk the threatened area, with accurate route maps, until you are familiar with the terrain. Don't waste valuable time and resources by setting up in the wrong place! There are many things to look for when choosing your site.
· Trees: It's obviously better to be out of reach of the bailiffs. At 90 to 100 ft most cherry-picker hydraulic platforms become redundant. Therefore trees above this height gain strategic importance.
· Water features: Camps surrounded by water are difficult to get eviction vehicles into. Existing access, such as bridges, are easy to blockade or remove. Water makes flooding the site possible, either before or, more spectacularly, during an eviction!
· Boggy land & marsh: Has similar advantages to water features and may be even better as you can't bridge a marsh.
· Steep slopes: These are good for digging tunnels into, and make their cherry-picking difficult as bulldozers will need first to flatten out a work space.
· Footpaths & rights of way: Makes your access easier. They should need a closure order during eviction.
· Good access: Good for spreading the word, gaining support and getting donations.
· Resources: A site with drinking water and firewood nearby will make life easier.
· Areas most threatened: If you know contractors want to move onto a specific strategic area, for example to set up a compound, get in there first! Priority should be given to occupying ecologically and symbolically important areas. However, don't trash them!
So the best you could hope for would be a tall office block next to a well-loved nature reserve, surrounded by tall trees, on a hill criss-crossed with footpaths, on an island in a bog surrounded by rivers, in an old minefield!
The more camps you set up, the greater the demands for support, supplies and staff. Be realistic about how many campas are set up, and discuss the best strategic approach for the campaign as a whole.
Building Your Camp
Make sure that you don't trash the area you are protecting. Plan ahead to avoid recurring problems and think of all the elements needed for an outdoor existence. Decide where you will put the fire pit, sleeping space, kitchen area, firewood, storage areas and toilets. Mark out paths and stick to them. If it gets really muddy, lay down sawdust, brash or planks. Dig shit pits or build compost toilets well away from the kitchen area and water sources. Have a bowl with water and soap for hand washing.
Kitchens should be covered and food preparation areas raised well off the ground out of reach of dogs. Kitchens must be kept hygienic; it is a good idea to boil up all utensils several times a week, to reduce bug biomass! Store food in old filing cabinets or strong metal boxes to prevent rodents eating the lot. Store clean, dry bedding and spare clothes somewhere off the ground, covered and dry. Make sure you have a comprehensive first aid kit and a small fire extinguisher, and that everyone knows where they are.
Sleeping space positioned away from the core of the camp will assist peaceful sleep. Warm communal benders with clean bedding, and perhaps separate areas for men and women, are essential if you expect people to stay. Benders are cheap, low impact, semi-permanent dwellings. They are made by bending long coppiced hazel poles and tying them together to form a dome or cylinder. Then pull a tarpaulin or plastic sheet over the top. A bender with bed raised from the floor on pallets and a small wood burner can make a comfy and warm home.
Firewood should always be dead and preferably seasoned for about two years. Elder releases poisonous fumes when burnt. Dead wood in woodlands is full of insects, fungi, mosses and loads of other creatures and is ecologically rich. Always leave rotten wood and some vertically standing dead wood. To avoid damaging the woodland around the camp, ask for donations of untreated firewood (i.e. not painted or varnished).
When you've set up your camp, build a post-box near a road, send the camp a letter, and inform the post office in writing that you are there. Use the postcode of the nearest house. A letter to the camp may come in useful in court when fighting eviction orders. The camp should have air horns and whistles to use as an emergency signal if attacked.
Living communally outside can be wonderful or a nightmare; for ideas on how to make a camp run smoothly, see page "living communally" in Ch. 14.
Building A Tree Camp
If you are protecting trees move up into them as soon as possible. This may be easier said than done! Nonetheless, most trees can be climbed. You can get up trees by free climbing, using ladders, or by throwing a climbing rope over a sturdy branch. If the lowest strong branch is too high to throw a rope over, you could use a length of fishing line or fine string. Tie one end of this line around a stone and attach the other to the rope, then throw or catapult the stone. Once you have the rope over the branch, you can "prussik up" the doubled rope. Alternatively, you could secure it by tying a looped figure-of-eight knot in one end, passing the other end through, and then pulling the rope tight around the branch. You will need a climbing harness and experienced instruction if you are not familiar with climbing. Be aware of safety - see below. For illustrations of a few knots, see Appendix.
If you have a straight trunked tree and there are no branches within catapult range, you could consider tape climbing. This involves using two 8 foot in circumferance flat tape climbing slings, looped around the tree trunk with a lark's foot knot. Attach the top loop to your harness and use the bottom one to step into. Move upwards, as if the tree were the rope when prussiking.
Tree houses enable you to sleep and live in the trees. Build them high enough so you can defend the trees from below.
How to build:
Lash joists to the branches and trunk using at least 6 mm diameter rope, to form a frame. Use old carpet to cushion the tree and don't hammer nails into it.
Nail or lash joists to these joists to form a grid.
Nail boards to the grid to form a base.
Build a bender on top of it.
This is deliberately sketchy as it would be dangerous to pretend that we could give a guide to tree house building on paper. The only way to learn is to visit an established protest camp or practise building close to the ground. Learn appropriate knots. Trees sway in strong wind; check lashings to make sure they haven't worked loose!
These can be made on the ground and then hoisted up into or between several trees. They are basically tree houses with a floor made of netting, rather than wood. Make sure that the netting is strong and lashed tightly to a robust frame. Place plastic sheeting and carpet on the net to avoid dampness. Although platform tree houses can be suspended, twigloos are much better as they are lighter. They are also appropriate for trees which don't have enough forks or branches to build a strong platform. Always make sure branches you use are not dead. Never build in Crack Willow trees.
At Newbury in 1995, one camp built its communal kitchen and sleeping space in the trees. This got everyone up the trees and provided a media focus.
These are often two lengths of rope strung between trees, one directly above the other, about 1.5m apart. They enable you to move between trees and usually prevent trees being felled whilst still tied together. Tie each walkway at roughly the same level to aid quick movement from one to another. They don't necessarily need to be completely horizontal between trees. Keep them high to make it harder for the bailiffs to cut them from the ground (using a scythe on a pole for example). Have lots of walkways linking the threatened area to trees outside it. This aids your access during the eviction.
There are two main materials used in Britain: polypropylene rope and steel cable. Polyprop is cheap, easy to obtain and use, and a nice shade of blue. It is easy to cut. Steel cable is harder to get hold of and use - instead of using relatively simple knots, you will need U-bolts, nuts and a tensioning device. To cut the cable a hacksaw or bolt croppers are needed. It tends to whiplash if cut under tension. Steel cable allows longer and tighter walkways and speedier movement. A good combination is steel for access walkways and possibly "main arteries" within the camp, with polyprop elsewhere.
Safety in the Trees
To be safe in the trees you should wear a climbing harness. This can be used to move safely up a vertical rope (Prussiking), to abseil down a rope, and to hold slings with which to clip yourself onto walkways when in the trees. As well as the harness, you'll need two lanyards (usually known as rope cowtails or slings) the length of your arms, at least three karabiners (one of which should lock), and a figure-of-eight abseiling device. The best way to learn how to climb is to visit an established protest camp or to visit a climbing centre. To move safely on walkways, clip both cowtails onto the top walkway.
Building For Tree Defence
Strong cargo nets can be strung between several trees to allow you to move around easily and sit in them during evictions, defending several trees at once. The best form of access is a walkway you can cut during an eviction. However, nets are a sitting target for cherry-pickers. Alternatively, climbers can lower the whole net down.
These should be very effective on cherry-picker proof sites. Start by building two walkways with two parallel top lines, the tree trunk's width apart.
In the eviction you can balance a wooden seat across the top two lines and sit on it. If the climbers interfere with the top two lines, you will fall off.
Ladders and Poles
A ladder or a single pole can be placed to protrude above the tree canopy. This will cause problems for climbers and may even put you out of reach of cherry-pickers. This works best with straight-trunked trees such as conifers.
Haul the pole or ladder up the tree and fix it to the highest part of the tree that you think will be safe. If using a single pole, attaching several scaffolding clips to its base will give you something to lash to.
Use a plank and a rope to establish a seat at the top. Use at least four 6 inch nails, bent into an 'S' shape, as hooks to hang your seat from the end of the scaffold pole. You can lock onto a ladder.
Eviction Access Points When building, plan for where the security cordon is likely to be during the eviction and have several hidden access routes outside it. For instance, you could have two lengths of fishing line running between two trees, one tree within the camp, the other outside of where any cordon might be. Both fishing lines are attached, at their camp end, to a long length of polyprop, the other end of which is already tied to a tree within the camp. The two lengths of rope should be tied, some 1.5m (vertically) apart. The length of rope will be less obvious if stored coiled, perhaps in a plastic bag. During the eviction, activists can climb the tree outside the cordon and pull the (invisible) fishing line until they reach the lengths of polyprop. By tying these off and tensioning them to their tree, they can form walkways to get across into the camp.
These are designed with a platform surrounding the trunk of the tree. The only access is a lockable trap-door. The tree needs to be the tallest tree possible to prevent climber access from other nearby trees. If there are no branches immediately below the platform, climber access becomes even more difficult.
However, these platforms are vulnerable to cherry-pickers. Scaffold poles sticking out from the platform would hinder cherry-picker access; grease them to prevent climbers using them.
Incorporate lock-ons into all defensive structures (see "lock-ons" in Ch 12). Well-placed lock-ons can block machine access and prevent tree felling. The physical obstacles you create need an aspect of novelty and humour to help to lighten the atmosphere.
Suspended Platform Cable Lock-Ons
This involves locking onto the thing which is supporting you so you can't be cut free without falling. It consists of a lock-on on a platform suspended by steel cable from a number of trees. To build, pass a long length of steel cable around the back of two groups of trees, crossing it over to form a figure-of-eight, and tension it off tightly enough to support the platform and lock-on. Protect the trees with carpet. The cable is not attached to the trees and is held up by the tension and by the branches it passes over. Have the cable make contact with as few trees as possible.
Build walkways (to be cut before the eviction) to give you good access for working on the platform and the cross formed by the figure of eight. Lash a long and sturdy wooden cross, on which to build your platform later, to the cable cross. Form another figure-of-eight around different trees or round the same trees in a different way. Tension this one off too.
The basic principle is to lock-on, via an arm tube to or near the cable cross. The lock-on can be as well protected as you want it to be. The key to the success of this platform lies in its construction, which prevents bailiffs getting good enough access to it to work on the lock-on. For stability, to reduce their access by cherry-picker, and to confuse them, build more figure-of-eight loops and pass them through the lock-on as well.
In the past, bailiffs have built a scaffolding tower up to the platform. Building the platform as high as possible, or over water, would make this more difficult. Prepare for a long stay.
Buildings are ready built obstacles waiting to be barricaded. Occupy these early, as contractors will attempt to destroy or occupy them. A building waiting to be destroyed is also a completely valid source of materials.
Consider first whether to barricade the whole house, just the upstairs (removing the staircase, blocking off the stairwell and using an upstairs window as the only access), or just one "strong room". Decide according to the amount of people, time and materials available. Barricades can be done on a very low budget using materials collected from skips or disused yards in the area. They need to be solid and able to resist sledge hammer blows.
You will need: Tools - Hammers, saws, shovels, buckets, a crowbar, sledgehammer and screwdriver. Materials - Nails, screws and fencing staples; timber, old bed frames, wire, tin fencing and wire mesh (often used on building sites, can be borrowed, perhaps), doors, anything heavy or that could be filled with rubble, water or earth (e.g. oil drums); car tyres, mirrors, anything else you like! For concrete, mix sandy gravel and cement in a 3:1 ratio.
· Make sure you have a good store of materials within the building before starting.
· Keep the details of barricades as secret as possible and develop your own eccentricities!
· Pulleys help when lifting heavy objects.
· Tempt people to help with tea, cakes and bourbon cream biscuits.
To make a barricade, alternating layers of planks or doors and metal nailed into the doors or window frames make a good start point. Next, nail vertical beams behind these with a support prop to the floor at 45 degrees. Reinforce the base of the prop with another beam nailed behind it into the floor joists. Then fill the whole area with rubble, car tyres and other debris.
Stairwells can be sealed off using long planks, with water or rubble-filled oil drums on top. Removing the staircase as well makes access to the first floor even more difficult. It is vital to leave clear warning messages that any attempt to cut through the planks will result in a serious headache!
Entrance points must be kept shut at night and should be quick and easy to secure. Reinforce wall cavities with concrete. Floors should be reinforced or strewn with rubble to make entry into barricaded rooms from below harder. Consider digging into the floor or basement, building a wooden box bunker and then filling the remaining space with rubble and tyres. Have a good access tunnel with lockable gates. These have been used on Claremont Road and at the Darwen squats during the M11 and M65 campaigns in 1994
These blocking tactics push the focus for their assault onto the roof, forcing use of expensive cherry-pickers. Attic spaces should be occupied, filled and reinforced from both inside and outside if possible. Chimney stacks are ideal fixtures for lock-ons, although for safety they should be demolished to the level of the roof tiles. Heavy chains cemented into the building make a good connector for catching cherry-pickers (see chapter 12). Scaffolding or wooden towers emerging from the roof are a bonus, as are nets between houses and from trees to houses. Nets, as with tree defence, help movement around the threatened area if ground level is sealed off.
Tunnels should prevent heavy machinery like cherry-pickers being used above them, so position them accordingly. Before you start tunnelling, find out about the soil and how high the water table rises. The tunnel system needs to be as hard to evict as possible. For safety, shore them up with sound hardwood or treated timber, as you dig. However, the eviction will take longer if they have to build their own shoring to get to you - so maybe don't make it too good!
Build them narrow, curved and long; the more off-shoots, and changes of direction and gradient, the better. Round tunnels are more difficult for them to shore. Ideally, the tunnel system should start with a rounded shaft. It can be deepened by making further vertical shafts. If you like being a worm, make them thin, as bailiffs are fatter than us! Tunnels can lead to underground chambers, and concrete or steel bunkers. Never build tunnels on top of one another in parallel; where they come close together ensure they are at right angles.
Every lock-on and living space must have its own air supply directly to the surface. In shallow tunnels a hard plastic pipe will suffice, and should survive any collapse. In deeper tunnels, hard pipes can be used in conjunction with a 12 volt computer fan, powered by a car battery, to draw air down. Lay all pipes along the floor of tunnels where they are most likely to survive a collapse. If you always carry a knife, you can cut into the pipe at any point to get air in the event of a collapse. Mark all air vents on the surface with brightly coloured tape and make sure they are kept clear.
Don't take cooking gas, candles or lighters (liquid gas expands massively, displacing oxygen) down the tunnel. Burning things uses up valuable oxygen, may create deadly carbon monoxide... and it's hard to escape from fires underground.
Fill tunnels with as many trap-doors and gates as possible, especially near lock-ons. These caused lengthy delays during the A30 eviction at Fairmile in February 1997. The front door is the most important. It must be easy to shut in a hurry from the inside, and hard to open from the outside. Make the outside of the door difficult to grip, perhaps by attaching barbed wire to it, so that surprise attackers can't stop you from shutting it. This door should be shut every night when you go to sleep. Internal doors should be strong and heavy; they only need to be shut during the eviction. The hinges should be out of reach on the inside, and be massively reinforced. Doors can be reinforced with steel plate, manhole covers or similar, ideally on both sides. Hollow doors filled with concrete are particularly good, and are easy to make, as the concrete can be poured and left to set down the tunnel. Doors integrated into the shoring will be difficult to dismantle safely.
Each occupant should create a comfortable space for their bed, and somewhere to store food and water. Keep this clean with food stored in metal boxes, otherwise rats will move in. Have lots of extra empty bottles for peeing in, and plastic bags for crapping in. Don't forget toilet roll, and ash to cover smelly business. Prepare ways of dealing with boredom and isolation. The best lighting system seems to be a car battery powering a few small bulbs - for instance white fairy lights or car dashboard lamps.
Position lock-ons strategically (for how to build a lock-on see page yyy). For example, dig an alcove in the side wall of your living space, just big enough for you and your lock-on. This will minimise bailiffs' working space. Parts of the lock-on can be incorporated into the shoring of the tunnel. A thick metal plate, surrounding the arm hole, has proved very effective for this. Another good technique is to place your lock-on directly below a reinforced trap-door in a vertical shaft. Bailiffs won't be able to smash the door without endangering the person underneath. If you link the trap-door to the shoring below, then they won't be able to lift it either. They will probably dig around the door sinking a separate shaft to get you out. You could make this harder by reinforcing the shoring around the lock-on.
Set up a communication system linking each lock-on and the outside world. Baby-Parent Intercom units are ideal. To link several, simply join their wires at a junction box. Always conceal or bury wires to prevent them being cut. Surface links should be kept hidden until the eviction.
While digging the system, try to limit the number of people who see what you are doing. Only show trusted campaigners the tunnels, not every newcomer on site. Don't show journalists or photographers.
Tunnels created solely for access in and out of the threatened area can be speedily made by digging a trench, placing top and tailed oil drums in the bottom, to form a long cylinder and then covering it up. These were used to good effect for access during the Claremont Road eviction in December 1994.
Barricades, Trenches And Tank-Traps
Obstructing a road or gateway without the need for people is a good delaying tactic. It is particularly useful for a first line of defence; whilst the enemy dismantle your barricades, you have time to get into lock-ons and set off phone trees, etc. Remember that most barricades will only delay people on foot by seconds, however.
A simple trench can achieve a lot. Dig it as wide as possible, and about as deep as wide. Wheeled vehicles will be stopped, but tracked vehicles will bridge all but the widest trench. The spoil can be used to build a bank, but move it well behind the trench, or bulldozers will just use it to fill it in again!
Barricades can be made with anything - logs, scaffold poles, metal sheets, masonry, barrels and old cars for example. Metal poles pointing outwards at an angle of 45 degrees will mean that only bulldozers will risk pushing against the structure. Intertwine everything so it holds together, using rope or wire. Burying or concreting the foundations into the ground will massively increase the strength of the barricade.
"Tank-traps" were used to great effect in the defence of Claremont Road from eviction in December 1994. Make one by clipping and welding together three or more scaffold poles into a 3-dimensional star, and concreting the structure almost half way into the ground.
Flooding a camp makes it somewhat machinery-proof. Beware of flooding your own ground lock-ons. Also make sure that you don't cause damage to sensitive habitat or de-stabilise the trees.
How to build:
Secure a long beam or scaffold pole across the river. Tie it to trees or stakes on either bank of the river.
Attach beams from this to the river bed, pointing upstream, at an angle of about 45 degrees.
Cover it in tarpaulin, soaked wet and weighted at the bottom.
If necessary, dig channels to help the river flood.
Positive Defensive Tactics
If we are continuously seen as antagonists with no positive vision then we will always remain a minority. Taller towers and stronger lock-ons are visual statements but they don't explain the depth of change required. Setting a positive agenda, by creating or illustrating an alternative to road building, earth-rape and exhaustive consumption, is a goal which we must move towards. If we can create communities that work together to produce a gradually increasing proportion of our needs, we can show a workable alternative.
Some road protest camps in Britain have declared independence, and planted up gardens on threatened land. These provide a proportion of activists' diet and a focus of activity for supporters. The Gotan Diggers Community at Newbury in 1996 was inspired by the 17th Century Diggers, who believed that "the land should be a common treasury for all".
The principles of Permaculture Design are a positive recent development well worth incorporating into camps (and our lives in general). Compost toilets, biodegradable dwellings and low maintenance perennial gardens are all ways of working with nature to enhance the living environment (see Appendix and Chapter xx).
Protest evictions are a huge experience, the like of which many people never see in the whole of their lives. If the atmosphere is kept as light as possible, it can be an empowering experience. In reality the actions of bailiffs and police, and sometimes fellow protesters, can cause huge amounts of stress and grief. To minimise this, prepare yourselves physically and mentally. Learn from past evictions as we have to be more innovative and inventive each time if we are to successfully resist an eviction.
Preparation For An Eviction
· Communication in a siege situation is difficult. Prepare CBs, mobile phones or even learn / devise a system of sign language or semaphore.
· A place for evicted people to regroup is important for mutual support, licking wounds and planning the next course of action.
· Prepare legal support for arrested people, and arrange Action Observers.
· Observe local roads and newspapers for road closure notices.
· Activities like checking out local tree surgeons, aerial platform hire depots, and Sheriff's offices, could give a tip- off.
· Stash supplies of food, water, bedding, clothes, paper clips, a first aid kit, spare rope, tools and climbing gear.
· Hold trainings, briefings and meetings to share useful past experiences and fears. It may help confidence to discuss and decide your personal limits, before the eviction.
· Consider finding someone prepared to liaise with police and bailiffs over safety issues during the eviction.
· Organise office support and media liaison.
· Have a 24 hour look-out and ensure good route monitoring (see 'route monitoring' in Chapter 8).
· Be especially vigilant at times the Sheriff might expect the camp to be low on numbers (e.g. big actions elsewhere).
· Store valuable personal gear (like musical instruments) somewhere safe.
· Prepare bags and transport for possessions on the big day.
· Double-check your defences. Make sure that you leave prominent warning signs on any obstacle you build.
The first view of an eviction is likely to be a sea of police and bailiffs in uniform, wearing headgear. Once in riot gear, people seem to be de-humanised, they can't hear you clearly, their vision is impaired and some seem to think they are "Robo-cop".
During long periods of eviction, actions to prevent their key players (e.g. the undersheriff and specialist climbers) from arriving are well worth considering. Observation of known meeting points, tailing of plant, climbers and tree surgeons each day could provide valuable information. People not at the site of the eviction could do simultaneous solidarity actions, such as occupying the roof of the undersheriff's house, and picketing the bailiffs' hotel all night.
Work out who is going to defend what and make sure that all the defences are occupied. Positioning during evictions is key. Rather than scattering, support each other and work in teams.
Your personal manner may determine how you are treated. Relating to bailiffs is difficult. The nature of their job is despicable. Protesters have dealt with them in different ways, ranging from hostile contempt to friendly conscience challenging (if you can find their conscience). The more friendly your demeanour, the better you are likely to be treated.
Locking on in pairs with some sort of sound recording equipment can be wise. Look out for one another and record relevant incidents. Record as much as you can, on film (see page yyy), and paper.
Tree Eviction Equipment Checklist:
· Bumbag or rucksack
· Warm waterproof clothes (if everyone wears similar ones, it makes the police evidence gatherers' job harder).
· Face paints / balaclavas / hoods
· Folding knife (for cutting rope and walkways)
· Food and water
· Spare climbing rope (for escape or to abseil onto a digger / cherry-picker)
· Harness (worn under your clothing) and wrist clip
· Torch or head torch
· thumb cuffs,
· Lighters for fags and stoves
· Bog roll and plastic bags/buckets (you may need to shit whilst up the trees).
· Chainsaw whips (see Chapter 12)
When an eviction starts, the instinctive reaction is to cut all routes of access into the camp. This is not always wise; the sheriff and his merry men are unlikely to enter your camp in ones and twos along your walkways. They enter in numbers, generally at ground level. Their first task is to isolate the camp by cutting off all access routes. Don't do their job for them!
Go for climbers as they come up. Look for pinch points, (e.g. forks in trees, defendable platforms) and hold them off there for as long as possible. Push their hands away and prevent them from throwing ropes higher up the tree. Place your feet on their shoulders and state that you will push down if they push up. Stay mobile, and flee if they are about to capture you. Aim to end up at your most defendable spot (i.e. lock-on, monopole etc).
They will want to cut walkways to isolate you. This can be done from the ground using a scythe-on-a-pole, except with steel cable. They may give up if you try to pinch the top section! Alternatively they may use a weighted wire saw on a rope, which they throw over the walkway and pull. Otherwise, they may cut them from up the trees or in a cherry-picker.
It is essential to occupy walkways to stop them from being cut. You will also be defending two trees at once. If you clip onto the top line, they are likely to cut the bottom one leaving you hanging. The climber may then come for you on a pulley. If you can't escape, tie a prussik loop to the walkway so they have problems pulling you away. If you aren't clipped on, they hopefully won't cut the ropes but just chase you along the walkway. If they catch you, they will either attach a lanyard to your harness (so wear it under your clothing), or around your body and lower you to the ground. Alternatively, they may try to grab you from a cherry-picker.
Many protesters carry knives when living out doors: for cutting rope, carving wood or chopping vegetables. On a few occasions at Newbury in 1996, when protesters used them during evictions to cut ropes being tied around them, the courts misinterpreted this as cutting bailiffs' safety ropes. This led to several people getting unusually harsh sentences - prison - for Obstructing a Sheriff. The knives were visible in police video evidence.
The most effective walkway defence technique we know of is also the most dangerous. It should be practised at ground level. It involves lying on top of a single rope, facing the climbers and unclipping your safety line. When they get close to you, let go of the rope and put your hands behind your back. This requires good balance.
Any approach they make will seriously endanger your life. Make this extremely clear to them. If you consider this tactic, pad your chest, stomach and groin, as it hurts! If they have cherry-pickers, they will just pull you into the bucket.
The eviction of the Kennet camp at Newbury in March 1996 was preceded by a visit from a hit squad of climbers dressed in black and wearing balaclavas. They cut walkways and climbing ropes and, when spotted, fired catapults at people in tree houses.
Evictions From Building
There are two main tactics for nonviolently resisting evictions from buildings: barricading yourself into a room, attic or bunker, or climbing as high as possible on top of the building. Either technique can be accompanied by locking-on (roof top lock-ons are best placed in visible places). You may be there some time so make sure you have supplies of food, water and warm clothes. Have a torch or candles and some form of communications. If you are on the roof, wear suitable shoes and have some waterproofs. If you are not locked on, keep mobile.
Dealing With Cherry-Pickers
Lock onto it before it gets to you. You could also capture it by chaining it to the building or tree by using tough chain or cable (see page yyy). Perhaps you could try overloading the bucket with people. The arm may then freeze or just lower slowly. This hasn't been done successfully yet. We estimate you'll need at least 6 people, all committed to going for it. There is a fear that it may topple over... Perhaps do some research.
At least two tunnel systems have been captured in surprise attacks with no-one down them. A team of people who are committed to defend every lock-on in the tunnels should avoid this happening. If any member of this team leaves the camp, they should organise a "reserve" to cover for them while they are away, even if this is just to go to the pub.
When the bailiffs come, expect them to know exactly where the entrance is, and to go straight for it. To map out the tunnel system and find where you are, they may use heat-seeking equipment and radar. To confuse them, consider burying human-sized bags of silage (which rots without using oxygen, producing heat).
They have used unidentified tunnelling specialists who enlarge your tunnel and shore it up, gradually working their way towards you. They will not evict you themselves, but clear the way for the bailiffs. These tunnellers have been generally friendly and try to talk people out.
The police and bailiffs will probably cut your communication systems and replace them with their own, so that they can control information in and out. They can then use this to put psychological pressure on you to leave voluntarily, by telling all manner of lies - for instance, saying that everyone else has already left, or that other parts of the tunnel are collapsing. If you're down there a long time, they may approach your family to extract personal information, or to ask them to help persuade you to leave.
The only fully-contested tunnel evictions in Britain so far were on the route of the A30 in Devon in January / February 1996. The two evictions were very different in character; the methods used would appear to be largely dictated by media presence.
The first was at the Trollheim camp, where media and observers were excluded. Machinery was brought in to the edge of the camp at 3.30 am. The vibrations caused some cave-ins and shoring subsidence. Food and water supplies were removed, and ventilation pipes cut. Fortunately, a tunnelling expert ordered that the tunnels be ventilated and shored up to prevent a fatality. Protestors were treated roughly by bailiffs. For instance, one man, locked on by his wrist, had his ankles tied up with a rope which was then pulled by three bailiffs from the surface. They then left him stretched out, unable to move, on a taut rope for half an hour.
The second eviction, at Fairmile camp, started several weeks later, at about 10.00 pm. By the next morning, there was a huge media presence. The tunnel eviction was a gradual affair, with laborious removal of doors, digging the tunnel wider and strengthening the shoring. Protestors were treated more gently, and were able to issue demands.
Meet up to share experiences, lick wounds, write witness statements and generally get some of the grief out. Unity after eviction helps you carry on. Try to direct your anger where it is deserved.
Bear in mind that a lot of the tactics above will only be viable whilst they don't want to kill us. To readers outside Britain, where rubber bullets, water cannons and guns are routinely used to suppress protest, these tactics may seem naive.
Chapter 10 - Going on the Offensive
To actually ever overcome the forces of the State, we must take the action to those propagating environmental and social vandalism. If campaigns remain entrenched in a defensive mentality, they will always be stunted, under pressure and ultimately controllable. Don't dance to their tune - seize control, take the fight to them, and get in their faces!
Strategic, creative and lateral thinking is essential in the "David and Goliath" direct action situations we face. Identify the objectives of each action, and seek to achieve them using as little effort as possible for maximum effect. This means standing back, viewing their whole operation, identifying the Achilles Heel, and going for it mercilessly.
For example, on the first day of the Newbury clearance contract in January 1996, protesters knew that all the security guards were billeted on a farm, down a narrow lane, about 15 miles from Newbury. Rather than sit and wait for them to arrive to start work, a handful of activists hired a truck, stole some scaffold poles, and made two tripods (see 'tripods', chapter 12). They then drove to the farm before dawn, and hid a tripod at each end of the lane. As the guards were boarding their coaches, the tripods were erected to block the lane. Those coaches, and their 300 guards, weren't going anywhere that day - so no destruction work was done!
In Windsor Great Park in Summer 1995, chainsaw crews turned up to fell the mighty oaks. They were whizzing up and down the huge avenue of trees in a LandRover, vainly pursued by a few exhausted protesters on foot. One person had the wit to see that the weak spot was the LandRover. He locked himself to it, so the chainsaw crews had to walk, and protesters could reach the trees in time to save them. Those trees are still standing.
Always seek to ambush and wrong-foot contractors before they get to you. Their plans are complex and their organisations rigid, so a little spanner in the works here and there can spoil their plans beautifully! Both the examples above also illustrate the vulnerability of their reliance on vehicles. Always maintain an element of surprise in your actions. Do the unexpected - for instance, travel to actions by an unlikely route. Decoys also often work well.
The importance of hindering surveyors at every opportunity cannot be over-emphasised. You can do it covertly or openly - ideally do both.
This has the advantage of yielding information as well as causing chaos, and should be done before open disruption if possible, as that would put surveyors on their guard. Just watch the surveyors start work. Before road construction begins, they will work along the route by taking measurements off "base stations". These are inconspicuous metal pins at intervals of 100m or so, sunk into large concrete foundation blocks buried in the ground, or hammered into existing roads. (Base stations will themselves usually be placed years before construction starts, at the road planning stage). By noting exactly where surveyors place their equipment, you will learn the locations of the base stations. This is a good job for people who enjoy dressing in camouflage gear and lying in bushes with binoculars! Be accurate, as finding them again will be tricky, especially in the dark. After the surveyors go home, you could map base stations by pacing or measuring their distance from a landmark, on a compass bearing.
When you have enough information, and just before the surveyors finish finding all the base stations on the route, go and dig them up. You will need a claw hammer, spades, and crowbars, and a couple of people - it's hard work. Use a lever to remove the concrete block. Fill in and disguise the hole afterwards, and take away or hide the base station. A weekend night is the best time. It's "criminal damage", so don't get caught. You must remove as many consecutive stations as possible for maximum effect. If done comprehensively, this could delay work enormously.
At later stages in the construction process, actual survey markers begin to appear - usually wooden stakes, but sometimes bright paint marks on trees or the ground. They may indicate areas to be cleared, compound or fence lines, or various other information. Two vertical posts about 0.5m apart with an angled batten between them will indicate an excavation gradient. Whenever you find stakes, either adjust, reposition or remove them completely, after noting their position. If you move them, don't make the route bigger!
If you find paint marks on trees, black them out completely with paint, and paint similar black squares on all the trees in the area. The surveyors will have to start again. Deal with paint marks on roads by spraying lots of similar marks all over the place, if you can get the right paint. If not, paint the whole area black.
Try to work out what marks signify by comparing their position with route maps. Don't get caught, and beware false survey stakes placed as a tempting trap to catch stake-pulling protesters.
This is more straightforward. Go up to the surveyors, and stop them by standing in their line of sight, as close to their sighting instrument as possible - a banner works well. Try being friendly, and they might chat and reveal useful information. If they are paint-spraying, get in the way, and try and grab the paint can.
If you outnumber them and there are no police or security about, they may just go away. If not, chase them well off the route, following them in vehicles if possible. Teams of mobile surveyor- stoppers, preferably with CBs or mobile phones, can be very effective.
Surveyors are very twitchy about their expensive instruments... if you do things like adjust the height of the tripod legs or get mud on the lens, they may get angry. If equipment is left unattended, it could be converted into an interesting habitat feature in a ditch or dense hedgerow. Stopping surveyors' vehicles stops them working too; record their vehicle descriptions.
As surveyor-stopping becomes commonplace, they will acquire a permanent security escort. The answer to this is to outnumber them.
To stop the road, you must try and stop their machines on their sites. Intelligence and observation are essential. Know what machines are working where, and how to stop them.
Approaching the site from several directions, and targeting different sites at the same time, should panic and split security. If the site is fenced, have a strategy for getting through or over the fence. Ladders, rolls of carpet, wire cutters and scaffolding may come in handy.
Construction sites are dangerous, noisy places, designed for controlled work, not chaotic protests. Machine drivers will be concentrating on their work, and may not see or hear you. All vehicles have blind spots. Be aware of this, and take care of yourself and others.
Stopping a machine is simple, if nerve-racking at first. Approach the machine and stand directly in front of it, where the driver can see you. Look him in the eye, gesticulate amicably, and make it clear you're not moving. Sometimes the driver, knowing you can move, will carry on; consider sitting down with your back to them if this happens. Once you've stopped the machine, you can climb onto it, and / or lock onto it (see 'locks', Chapter 12).
Machine operators may be pissed off with their role, and unnerved by you, so talk to them. They'll say that it's just a job, and they have a wife, kids and mortgage; it's probably true. Abuse from you is more likely to provoke them to react in the easy way - by punching you or someone else. They are generally bigger and grumpier than us, and aren't the real target of the action. Watch out for violent situations, and try to diffuse them (see 'dealing with violence on actions', later in this chapter).
A chain of operation is only as strong as its weakest link. If, for example, one digger is loading several dumper trucks, stopping the digger will terminate the whole operation. Alternatively, if the trucks pass through a pinch point (eg. a bridge, gate or traffic lights), you could block one there and stop everything. This is likely to be less dangerous than trying to stop all vehicle movements at once.
Decoys running manicly about will attract the attention of security guards, whilst others can zigzag towards the target vehicles and lock on. Decoy raids on other sites may also draw security away.
Using "passive resistance" when caught will tie up several security guards or police, allowing other protesters through. This entails lying down and going floppy to form a dead weight. Several people are needed to carry a totally relaxed person, giving other protesters room to manoeuvre. Linking arms and legs to those around you will make everyone harder to remove. Check with others as they may not want to be tugged about. Passive resistance is also a clear demonstration of peaceful non-cooperation.
Targets on site
Excavators, Dumper trucks and Bulldozers: Excavators (also known as earthmovers and diggers) move earth and smash things up. Dumper trucks transport "spoil" dug by diggers either off route, or along the route to be shaped by bulldozers. Excavator arms can be climbed and the hydraulics locked onto. Sitting on, or in front of, trucks and bulldozers will only halt them briefly. Locking on inaccessibly underneath works well, if the driver knows you're there (see 'locks', Chapter 12). Some might even use further immobilisation methods...
Graders and Rollers: These flatten and level land, after the bulldozers. Graders have a scraper blade in the middle, and rollers have two rollers!
Cranes and Pile drivers: Cranes work on major structures like bridges or flyovers, or to lift heavy materials like portacabins and large pipes onto site. Pile drivers are used for sinking piles to form the foundations of structures. Both are good for hanging banners, and make fun climbing frames. Climb as high as possible, and block the top turning wheel with a metal bar, which should prevent the jib being lowered. Read "Crane Sits" if you're planning an extended stay up there.
Site offices / Portacabins: These are the hub and hierarchical pinnacle of the contractors on route. This is where the consultant engineers tell the contractors what to do. A good source of fine details on work schedules, and an essential target for actions; thus, they hate you getting inside. If you can't get in, get on top. Small holes discreetly made in the roof will surprise them next time it rains!
Land Rovers: These are the usual vehicles in which security, bosses and surveyors move about the route.
Concrete batching towers: Major schemes may have their own on-site concrete production plant, supplying concrete for major structures. Good banner-hanging sites.
Concrete mixing lorries: These transfer concrete from batching plant to site. If they are halted for about an hour the concrete will start to set in them. Contractors get very shirty if these are blocked, especially as they are often owner-driven.
Directional concrete delivery pipes: These transfer concrete from lorries to the shuttering which moulds the setting concrete, via a bendy pipe. Concrete pours are key to construction schedules. They must be done quickly, smoothly, and completely, or will be structurally unsound. They are thus key things to sabotage.
Cranes are bought in at an expensive daily rate for important jobs. So, every single day that you spend up them costs them loads and seriously screws up their schedules.
The Prepared Crane Sitter
· Old, warm, waterproof clothes (cranes are exposed and dirty)
· Harness with safety loops
· Rucksack for supplies
· High energy food (like dried fruit and nuts)
· Water (lots)
· Plastic bag as a toilet
· Sleeping bag
· Big banner for passers-by and press
· Platform (planks or a door)
· Rope to tie it on
· Plastic sheet or tarpauline to provide some shelter
· Little stove, kettle and tea bags (for a deluxe sit!)
· Mobile phone or CB (with batteries)
· Metal bar to jam into the crane's top wheel.
All this is obviously difficult to get up there, so a prolonged sit should be done with at least one other person. It is also good to have a ground support team to help you up, watch out for your welfare and to liaise with the press. For your general comfort, wedge the platform between the crane struts and tie it on securely. This will also make it harder for them to get to you. The best time to get up a crane is the early hours of the morning when no-one is looking out for a couple of sneaky sitters!
If you've jammed the cog at the top of the crane, they shouldn't be able to lower the jib. They may then use or threaten force. In the past, security guards with climbing gear have been sent up to pull you down. They should find this difficult if you are determined enough. On one occasion thick mattresses were placed under the crane and sitters were threatened that if they did not come down, they'd be thrown off. Hopefully, this was an empty threat. Expect to be arrested for Aggravated Trespass or Section 241 for "depriving a workman of his tool" (see 'arrestable offences, chapter 15"). Good Luck!
The British record is six days, six hours and 38 minutes set at the M65 protest in Lancashire in 1994.
Blockades are generally used to stop vehicles from entering or leaving a compound, building or site, or from passing along a stretch of road. They can paralyse an operation, whilst requiring relatively few people. To plan a blockade, first select the target; decide what the most effective thing to stop will be, and where it can be stopped. If the contractors are depending on a specific machine, then that's the thing to stop. Identify bottlenecks - for instance, gates or narrow bits of road that the vehicle must pass through. Ensure you have identified every possible exit, as partial blockades are pointless.
After reconnaissance, decide on the most effective time to launch the blockade. The ideal time is just before the target vehicle is about to leave. Too early will give the police more time to bust the blockade, and too late is useless. Work out the logistics of springing the blockade, taking into account the need for prior concealment, surprise and timing. Have look-outs with CBs or mobile phones.
Whether you use D locks, tripods, lock-ons, vehicles or any other method, it is vital to practice it thoroughly, and check all the equipment, beforehand. For actual blockading tools, see Chapter xx. You may have literally half a minute to spring the blockade, so think it through and get it right. A diversion can stop police or security interfering at the vital moment.
Bikes can provide stealthy transport to a site as well as form the actual blockade. At Twyford Down in March 1993, Winchester College schoolboys broke ranks with their money-grabbing masters to blockade a M3 site entrance effectively. They chained their bikes together and lay underneath them.
An alternative to blocking a site entrance is to suddenly stop a vehicle whilst in transit between depot and destination. For instance, at Newbury 1996, activists lay in wait in an underpass below a roundabout. When the bulldozer convoy approached and slowed down, they ran out suddenly with a banner, and stopped it. This was very simple, and worked. Placing logs visibly in the road in advance, or quickly erecting tripods, may help to persuade drivers to stop. Stash equipment beforehand. If you try this sort of thing, remember that road safety becomes an issue, and the police will not like you blocking the highway. Be bold, quick and careful, and expect arrests. A Critical Mass or Street Party type of blockade can also be used; see Chapter 11.
Yet another idea is to use scrap cars - the blockading possibilities of a driveable pile of junk are limited only by your imagination! (See 'scrap cars, chapter 12)
Days Of Action
Days of Action are great for boosting morale, publicity and numbers, especially on smaller campaigns. They are useful at the start of a campaign or when one has been running for a long time and activists are exhausted or bailed off route. As these actions are a good introduction to direct action for new people, make sure that everyone feels they have contributed to shutting down the road for the day. However, organised days of action also mean organised and prepared police and security.
Checklist for Organising an Action
Choose a name, date and broad focus as far in advance as possible (at least a month).
Start networking now! Fundraise. Ask people from other towns and cities to organise and advertise transport to the action. Organise accommodation, food, toilets and entertainment. Prepare Legal Support, Action Observers and contact a solicitor. Consider whether to invite media, and if so, send out a press release. If intending to stop work, know what work is happening where, and get to know work patterns.
Ensure you have a realistic and strong focus for the day. Form an elementary plan, including decoys and back up plan. Build in a large element of flexibility so that people coming in can have an input. Acquire necessary equipment and tools, including communications. Think about transport needs on the day - walking, bikes, hire vans and public transport are all options.
Draft accurate maps of the area, including more detailed ones of the target sites.
Make sure you have a team of people to fill all the important roles on the day - drivers, legal support team, media spokespeople, site guides for each affinity group, camp sitters, cooks, office staffers, route monitors and people to clear up afterwards.
Hold briefings and training sessions preferably the day before.
Get an early night the night before an action. Wake people up in plenty of time and have breakfast prepared.
Targeting The Evidence Gatherers On Site
Police and private detectives are increasingly using technology to gather information during protests. Their evidence may prove crucial in convicting activists, although most is used for general surveillance and profile-building. It is important to minimise the amount of info available to them. The majority of their evidence is collected in the form of film and photos, although they will also make a verbal record on Dictaphones, and may have directional microphones to record you.
They are easy to spot on worksites, standing in a small group back from the action but always near it, carrying cameras and notebooks. Police may have "EG" displayed on their uniforms, and wear blue hard hats.
Simply standing in front of them with a banner will hinder their filming and annoy them. Stay with them. Be careful not to actually touch them or their equipment, as this may count as assault. If they are police, or if police are nearby, you will be asked to move off and probably threatened with arrest after a while. The best approach might be to retreat after the warning, and let someone else take over. It's vital that everyone realises the importance of obstructing them, and gives them a hard time.
From a distance, you might be able to obstruct filming using a mirror to reflect the sun, or with a camera flash gun; be aware that flash guns can actually damage video cameras, if you're close enough. Creating a smokescreen can be good in certain circumstances - if you're up a tree for instance. Make sure you're not filmed chucking the smoke bomb (see page yyy).
Audio recordings, including video soundtracks, can be disrupted by shouting, blowing whistles, chanting and drumming. Another alternative is to constantly describe the destruction caused by the road into the microphone, so that it will be heard if the tape is used in court. Don't give your name or any personal details, or converse at all.
Watch out for undercover evidence gatherers. They may pose as the press, or as amateur photographers. If in doubt, keep an eye on them, and ask to see their press card. If you're certain a photographer is dodgy, make sure everyone knows.
This can be a very powerful tool on mass actions and demos. You will have to outnumber the police and ensure there are no surveillance crews around. If someone has just been nicked then a large crowd can surround the policeman and the person and then bundle the arrestee out of there. No arrest - magic! The nicked person should disappear. This is very empowering, but only do it if you can get away with it. It works best on one-off actions, otherwise the person may get recognised and re-arrested on another day.
Targeting Contractors Off-Site
You can exert significant pressure by targeting a company away from the road site. Subcontractors and suppliers are particularly vulnerable, as the main contractor relies on smaller companies.
Target existing contractors, and, more effectively, potential bidders for contracts. Make a list of as many contractors' offices and worksites as you can find. Corporate Watch (Chapter xx) should be able to help you find information; see also Chapter xx. Publish these details as widely as possible, and call for solidarity actions, office occupations and pickets. Hopefully actions will start nationwide, especially if your group shows the way with actions in your area. Tell the media, especially the construction press, about your targeting campaign. If you have foreign contacts, an action against a contractor's office abroad will really worry them!
Newbury campaigners produced the "Greasy Palms List" in 1996. This was a comprehensive list of the offices of just about everyone involved in building the road. Numerous actions resulted, including targeting coach companies, with several pulling out of their contracts to transport guards to Newbury.
If contractors have links to consumer products, you could call a boycott. This was done when Twyford Down security firm Group 4 bought a controlling stake in Ecover, the "green" cleaning product company. Boycotts take a lot of energy, but if nothing else, will raise public awareness and embarrass the company.
You could also try visiting contractors' senior management at their lovely homes; get addresses from company search data. A picnic on the lawn on a Sunday morning is nice and media- friendly. The same tactic can be used to keep the pressure on all sorts of undesirables, from Undersheriffs to politicians.
The decision-makers sit in cosy offices far removed from the reality of the destruction they cause. Occupying such an office is an effective direct action, especially for a relatively small group of activists. Before you get to the target office, agree on the aim. Is it a press stunt, a symbolic occupation, an information-trawling exercise, or designed for maximum disruption? Everyone should agree on what to do inside, and how long to stay for - and stick to it.
Reconnaissance is important. Look for ways in, such as open ground floor windows, fire escapes, and side doors, and ensure everyone knows the basic layout. The best way in is usually the front door! Anyone who doesn't want to go in could picket the entrance, and leaflet cars in the workers' car park. Make a simple plan to get in. Entrances often have security locks, swipe-card readers, or intercoms. One smartly-dressed person going in and opening the door for everyone else often works. Small bits of wood can wedge the door open. Have an excuse such as courier delivery, an employment inquiry or a pre-booked appointment with a named worker. Alternatively, you can sneak in behind employees going in, or catch the door as one leaves. Ensure that you aren't spotted beforehand.
Once in, the fun starts! You might all look for the office of those actually working on the road, or scatter through the building to cause chaos, but stay in pairs at least, as office workers can defend their space assertively. Keep it calm and non-confrontational, especially as most workers you come across will not be decision-makers; seek out the bosses! Reassure workers who seem frightened by your invasion that you intend no violence, and distribute leaflets explaining your case to them. You may want to make demands, such as a meeting with senior management. Take press phone numbers with you, for interviews from the office. Banners hung from the roof look good.
If your goal is disruption, rearrange paper and filing cabinets, lock doors and hide keys, unplug everything, make noisy music, barricade yourself into empty offices, play with computers, photocopy your bum and fax it to the DoT, phone friends in Australia, lock yourself to the radiator, etc. Keep it tidy, and they might not discover what you've been up to until later; obvious criminal damage or theft on these type of actions may lead to everyone being arrested if you are few in number. Some occupations have involved smashing up as much as possible, but these are risky, and may cause public relations problems.
If your goal is info-gathering, get in and out quickly. Rummage through filing cabinets and photograph or photocopy everything interesting. Alternatively, you could fax documents to the campaign office, who should be briefed to keep their fax line free. You may want to borrow some files to study at your leisure... chuck them out of a window to waiting colleagues who can spirit them away immediately. Don't hang around waiting to be arrested. Leave a pre-printed disclaimer in place of the files, stating that anything removed will be returned undamaged within 24 hours. This gives time to read files and copy useful stuff. You can return the files either to the office doorstep in the middle of the night, or (anonymously) to a Police Station Lost Property Office in a different town. It's essential to return everything if anyone does get nicked for theft; although the disclaimer has no actual legal weight, charges should be dropped if files are returned as promised. Remember that this is only a general outline - actions like this require extensive planning.
Everyone should leave together, and make sure no-one is left inside. Be aware that police often search everyone before they leave the office, especially if anything has been removed or damaged.
The roadbuilders need offices to get the road built as much as they need bulldozers. There will be people sitting at their desks doing essential work such as drafting contracts, and they must be stopped! Identify the key people in the roadbuilding agency (see Chapter xx), and target them persistently. Do the same for contract bidders during the contract letting procedure. Target anyone else who appears to be doing key office work on the road at any time.
The objective is to hinder the work of the key people as much as possible, by clogging up their in tray, phone and fax lines, and e-mail. This will make extra work for them, tie their bureaucracy up in knots, and make them feel personally responsible.
Some techniques might be to place adverts for bargain goods in free ad papers, with their direct phone line as the contact. Produce cheap fliers advertising an unbeatable offer with the same phone number, and put them everywhere. Do anything that will tie up those phone lines!
Order them things they will need to spend time returning or cancelling, like china figurines from newspaper colour supplements, or subscriptions to book clubs. This is much more effective than just bombarding them with junk mail. Ordering goods and services from other dodgy companies is especially fun; for instance, phone up and hire them extra machines from the plant hire company working on the road.
Network their contact details as widely as possible on the internet, amongst local supporters, and to national activist networks. Encourage people to use their imagination...
You may want to publicise a big phone and fax blockade on a particular day, to really clog up the communications at a vital time.
You could blockade the key staff from getting to work. Remember that the objective is to cause as much chaos as possible to the office and key people, not to intimidate.
All public companies must hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM), where all shareholders are invited to vote to approve the company Annual Report and accounts, and to elect Company Directors. An AGM is when a company is under greatest public scrutiny, and thus provides an excellent opportunity to embarrass it. Companies are legally required to carry out certain functions at their AGM, and so serious disruption could theoretically place the company in breach of the Companies Act (see Basic Law for Road Protesters - Chapter xx), or at least force them to re-arrange the meeting. We don't know of an occasion when protesters have achieved this in Britain. Any campaign against a company should include visiting their AGM. To explore this area further, see the Shareholder's Action Handbook (Chapter 17).
The first stage is to buy shares, through a bank or stockbroker. As a fee is charged per transaction, it's best to pool money and buy as many shares as you need in one person's name, and then transfer one share each to everyone who wants one. Transfer forms are available from the registrars who are administering the shares. Return forms to the registrars, who will arrange the transfers at no extra cost. This will take time, so buy and transfer the shares as soon as possible - preferably months in advance. If you have enough cash, you could advertise for potential shareholders amongst national activists.
The registrars will send shareholders advance notification of the AGM - usually held in Summer - and also of any additional Extraordinary General Meetings (EGMs). Looking at the venue well beforehand will help to form your plans. Discuss what you want to achieve - sympathetic press coverage, embarrassment, or outright chaos? Escalating tactics, for instance by asking questions at first and becoming disruptive as they remain unanswered, may allow several objectives to pursued at the same meeting. Read the company's Annual Report to prepare questions. Don't be distracted by aiming to win the votes, as they are decided according to how many shares each voter holds, and the board will hold a controlling proportion. You could set up a bogus shareholders' association, purporting to be the voice of small shareholders concerned with the company's direction, and send out provocative press releases. This should stir things up nicely in the financial press!
Networking all your activist shareholders will encourage their attendance. Provide transport, as AGMs are usually held in cities - often London - far from your local campaign. Decide also whether to arrange and publicise a demo outside for non-shareholding protesters to leaflet shareholders and wave banners. Send out a press release describing a photo-opportunity outside. Prepare leaflets to put on shareholders' chairs; they might even read ones which superficially mimic the company's own literature.
Consider holding a discussion or briefing meeting the night before the AGM to finalise plans, and perhaps arrange accommodation.
On the day, dress smartly, and don't forget your share certificate. Be prepared for serious security - you may be frisked, have your bag X-rayed and your pockets searched, and be "metal- detected". Smuggling in cameras, stinkbombs, whistles, handcuffs and other paraphernalia of disruption will be tricky, especially if they're metal. Hide small items in your underwear or shoes.
AGMs can seem intimidating. The board will sit on a raised platform at the front, with the first few rows of seats packed with company employees, and security guards in suits. Security will also lurk around the edge of the hall. The roving microphones which shareholders use to ask questions will be carried by security, and can be switched off if you start ranting. Keep hols of the microphone until they have answered your question.
The meeting will begin with an introduction by the Chairman, followed by the start of business. This is usually the time to start asking questions or disrupting. A common tactic is for the company to appear reasonable by putting "environmental questions" at the end of the agenda. Don't be fooled; demand that the environment is moved to the top. Keep making demands, and don't take no for an answer. Disruption can take many forms - whistles, clapping, chanting, chucking paper, running around, climbing up the walls, and storming the stage. Ideally, the objective should be to shut the meeting down.
"Normal" shareholders will soon get fed up of your antics. Although a few might listen to your arguments, most are only interested in their dividend. Expect impatience at least, and perhaps threats. You might counter this by raising issues which play on their concerns (ie. money), or "infiltrate" them with convincing-looking activists posing as ordinary shareholders, who urge that "we listen to the greens".
Disruption will be countered by the goons in suits, who may eject "troublemakers". Help each other if this happens, and increase the chaos factor. Beware aggression or damage that may get you arrested and give ammunition to the company's PR office.
Only your imagination limits this type of action. Car adverts using sexually provocative imagery or wilderness backdrops are particularly tempting targets. To maximise the subversive impact, make your amendments look real. Measure up the type-face used on the advert. Most computers have lots of font styles, one of which should match. Increase the size of the individual letters using a photocopier. If you dress up in white overalls and fly-post confidently over the original message, then you probably won't get caught. Alternatively do it at night, although this looks suspicious.
Spray painting is a quicker method, but it is prone to spelling mistakes and illegible hand writing unless you use a stencil. Billboard subvertising can be used to advertise campaign events.
These have been used during road protests mainly by people in custody at a police station or in prison. For instance at Twyford Down in 1993 and Newbury in 1996 they were used to challenge draconian bail conditions, to resist increased conditions when arrested for breaching bail, and in combination with refusing to give fingerprints. Hunger strikes are best used to strengthen a clearly publicised demand. Have a support team to deal with media and monitor your welfare. Be realistic as the authorities are very unlikely to back down to any major demand. If you are not prepared to starve to death, set a period of time and call it a fast.
It is important to drink lots of still mineral water if you hunger strike. This will also cleanse your body of toxins produced when fasting. If you plan to hunger strike, you could practice by gradually increasing the length of your fast. Refusing food for more than a few weeks may irreparably damage internal organs. Hunger strikes should not be undertaken lightly.
Filming On Actions
Filming on actions is good for evidence for court cases, building up an archive, doing our own media work, images for publicity materials and as a tool for direct action training. However, there is a balance to be struck between gathering useful material, and being in a position to help the police, who would love to get their hands on your videos and photos. By taking videos and photos, you are in a very responsible position and should not abuse it.
The cops have got quite sophisticated at evidence gathering (see page yyy) and can quite easily stitch people up in court. It is undeniably useful to have your own evidence in court which contradicts what they say or, at the very least, shows another side to the story.
Record the circumstances of an arrest, as that is what the police usually lie about. You'll need to stand back and film the whole scene - the police preparing to go in and randomly arrest people, warnings, threats etc. After a while, you'll get a feel for when the police are about to go in. It may also be helpful for photographers to make quick notes at the time to help them interpret the photos.
If you are filming for your own records, ask people's permission first and do something useful with the footage. If you have any particularly striking images, send a copy to the campaign. Send it for the attention of the campaign archivist.
If you film anything that is useful for court purposes, you should contact the campaign and let them know. Try really hard to contact the arrestee as they probably won't have noticed who was filming. If you film actions you should be prepared to turn up at court for people. If your video or photograph is used as evidence then you may have to swear in court that you took it and that it hasn't been tampered with. A signed statement may be sufficient, however. The campaign should label, store and archive photographs and videos chronologically. Don't store them anywhere where they may get seized by the police.
Ask before you film as many people are understandably very sensitive about cameras. Be prepared for people to get annoyed if you don't ask first. Some feel filming actions is parasitic - photographers standing on the sidelines, either making money as a journalist or getting a collection of exciting snaps. Direct action is not a spectator sport! Some people may get in trouble with the pictures you take. They may be on bail conditions banning them from where they are. They may be wanted by the police for other things. They may be doing something that they do not want captured on film. Don't film anyone committing criminal damage unless they ask you to.
Any camcorder operator or photographer is in danger of having footage seized by the police. This happens to aid their own evidence gathering or to suppress coverage of their own actions. They may take the camera as well as the film. If they seize anything, make sure they sign something as proof that they have taken it off you.
Criminal Damage And The Campaign
"The argument of the broken window is
the most valuable argument in modern politics."
-Emily Pankhurst, suffragette, circa 1913
This is a discussion of the strategic and practical implications of damaging property; for legal definitions see Chapter 15. Of course, we are not condoning or inciting anything, just aiming to honestly tackle a real issue.
The issue of "Criminal Damage" is controversial to many; some say it alienates support, and your opponents will call damage to property "violent". It is an "offence" taken more seriously than many others by the police, which suggests that it might be effective... this is not the place for an in-depth discussion of the ethics of criminal damage, as you need to think about it for yourself. Watch a bulldozer ripping up irreplaceable wildlife habitat so that rich corporations can get a bit richer, and ponder the meanings of "criminal" and "damage".
Some people systematically undertake acts of covert sabotage. This has been a common method of resistance for centuries. It raises important issues. Sabotage can inflict heavy economic damage, and force the use of 24-hour security measures, increasing contractors' paranoia. A small number of people can be very effective with inexpensive low-tech tools. Sabotage can also be used strategically - for example, disabling a key cherry-picker the night before an eviction. However, it can be risky. If caught, remand and long prison sentences are likely, so security and planning are essential. These pressures can induce paranoid stress. As well as personal risk, covert sabotage has implications for the whole campaign. It may make reprisals, such as vigilante attacks on camps, more likely. It could result in someone being arrested for another's actions (however, all direct action can have these backlash effects). Covert damage is difficult to justify publicly, as understandably no-one wants to admit knowing anything about it! If considering sabotage, think carefully first, and consult the security sections of Ecodefense, Without a Trace, and the Ozymandias Sabotage Handbook. Search for these on the Wide World Web and see Chapter xx. Don't get caught.
"Swords into Ploughshares" activists have openly damaged military weaponry, taking complete responsibility for the action. Four women who disabled a British ground attack aircraft destined for the Indonesian military to use on civilians were, in a famous victory in July 1996, acquitted by a jury, who accepted the argument that their action was legally justified to prevent genocide. This type of accountable criminal damage inflicts economic cost directly on the target. By taking accountability, you can morally justify and explain your actions and arguments to a wide audience. In the arena of the court you can be proud of your actions. The controversial nature of open criminal damage will ensure public and press interest. Hopefully this will inspire people and get them involved. Having support groups will mean that more people feel actively involved in the criminal damage. These actions are very likely to result in prison sentences, as courts probably won't accept legal arguments to justify smashing up bulldozers. Planning the action and supporting those imprisoned takes a lot of time, preparation and energy, and may dominate the wider campaign. It is important that those who take these actions aren't put on a pedestal. Being unafraid of prison removes one of the State's last powers over you.
On a worksite action, activists may accidentally rip a security guard's jacket, damage a fence merely by climbing over it, or deliberately remove survey stakes, break a floodlight, or damage machinery. All of these can result in arrests. Whatever your views on Criminal Damage, we're assuming that you don't want to see fellow protesters convicted for this sort of thing. So put your camera away. This also applies to the press, so check they're not around. Anyone who insists on filming people breaking things deserves to be treated with serious suspicion.
Some people protect those doing damage by standing between them and potential hostile witnesses, or by staging a diversion. The culprits will wish to protect themselves by wearing gloves and hood plus scarf, balaclava, face-paints, or similar. Look out for evidence gatherers!
An important point to consider is that obvious criminal damage on an action gives the police an excuse to search everyone, if there's enough of them and not many of you. Anyone with anything incriminating may be arrested.
If much criminal damage happens, the campaign will find itself attacked in the media for allowing or encouraging "vandalism". Don't score a PR own goal by breaking things in the presence of the media. Large rallies, where a cosy press stunt is the objective, are bad places to start practising bulldozer maintenance! See page yyy for ways of dealing with media criticism.
Avoid any encouragement or celebration of criminal damage on campaign literature, to avoid conspiracy charges or injunctions.
Secrecy Or Openness When Organising?
There is a balance to be struck between secrecy and openness when organising actions. It is important for as many people as possible to have the empowering experience of pulling off a stonking action! But this mustn't compromise security or jeopardise the action. The stress of campaigns can cause some people to feel as if every corner is bugged and everyone is a potential police informer. Secretive cliques of paranoid loons will disempower everyone else, and make others feel untrusted.
On the other hand, if you are entirely open and fine details of your plans are known to everyone, then it is likely that the police will interfere. The nature of the action may be a factor in how open you decide to be. Actions where surprise is a key factor will require more secrecy.
Some groups have tackled this by having open discussions on how secretive to be. When organising something which obviously has to be kept secret (like the location of a Street Party or the timing and location of a blockade) you may decide that the action is organised on a "need to know" basis. Once this is agreed, then people will hopefully feel that they do not need to know every detail, understand that it is for strategic reasons, and not because they are untrusted. Then they can just get on with making it happen. The burden of keeping a secret can be a heavy responsibility. It shouldn't be the same people over and over again.
Some people feel they have to know exactly what the action is before taking part, so they can decide their own personal risk factor. Small affinity groups, organising openly within that group, can pull off their own effective surprise actions.
See Chapter 13 for more on security measures.
Dealing With Violence On Actions
Violence from contractors, security guards
Many road protesters have experienced little or no violence from security or police. The way you relate to those whom you are challenging may diffuse volatile situations. Try to keep the atmosphere of your actions as light as possible. Include music and humour in your actions and don't be afraid to smile. Be aware of what is going on around you and diffuse situations before they ignite. You can distract a hostile person and calm them by talking to them gently.
Reacting to your protest with violence may be the easiest way out for them. It means they don't have to rationally argue why they are destroying nature or peoples' homes. Violence may be deliberate, designed to subdue and intimidate you into giving up. Don't be intimidated.
If you are attacked, try looking them in the eyes and asking why they are hurting you. If they don't stop, call to other people for help and shout "Camera!". Your aggressor is unlikely to want to be caught on film. If you can get away, run to join other protesters. Some self-defence and martial art techniques may be useful for escaping from holds without using violence. Pressure points behind the ears, in your neck and on your wrist are sometimes used to enforce compliance, especially by the police. Wriggling about and shaking your head makes them harder to find. As a last resort, if you are getting an inescapable kicking, "duck and cover" to protect your vital organs. Bring your knees up to your chest and tuck your head in. Clench your hands to protect the base of your skull and cover your temples with your arms. Roll to your right to protect your liver.
If you see someone being attacked, draw peoples' attention to the incident and call for cameras. If the situation doesn't improve, you could try calmly surrounding the incident with people so that the aggressor feels overwhelmed. Another method is to directly intervene, physically pulling them apart and restraining the aggressor.
If you are assaulted by a police officer, use all the above mentioned tactics and call out shoulder ID numbers to worry them and to inform action observers. However, they sometimes swap or remove their ID numbers.
If you wrestle with the police or intervene in another's arrest, you may face arrest for obstructing or assaulting a police officer (see De-arresting, page yyy). They will protect each other and pile in heavily if you appear to be threatening one of them.
"Quickcuff" rigid handcuffs get tighter if you struggle and are used to restrain and force compliance through pain. According to police guidelines, these should only be used on people being violent or resisting arrest. These guidelines are usually ignored. If you are hurt by them, see an independent doctor and get injuries photographed immediately after release. (See Anti- Quickcuff Gauntlets, page yyy).
The standard police weapon, replacing the truncheon, is the extendible baton, sometimes with side handle. These aren't used often on road protesters. Many police are also now equipped with CS gas spray canisters. These are only supposed to be used in self defence, and have not yet been used on road protesters in Britain. If you are unlucky enough to experience it, turn away, try not to inhale it, close your eyes and ideally cover your face in a wet cloth. Afterwards, use a cloth to wash your face with cold water containing lemon juice - avoid hot water as it will open skin pores and allow more gas-spray to enter.
You may meet specialist "public order units" who are more aggressive and violent; for example, the Metropolitan police's "tactical support group" (TSG) or Merseyside's "operational support group" (OSG). If you are charged by a baton wielding policeman you could "duck and cover" at the last moment (see above). The bully will hopefully trip over, falling flat on his face, at which point you can run away.
Even the nastiest pigs don't usually bite... but police dogs do! They are used to intimidate and force you to move. Ecodefense (see Chapter xx) has some ideas on how to deal with them, although it is mainly applicable to guard dogs.
Police horses are also used to intimidate. They are trained to move sideways into crowds and will tread on you if you don't move. If you push confidently on the chest or nose, it may hesitate. The rider will not appreciate this, especially if you touch the bridle or reins. Horses hate the smell and sound of pigs (real ones!), and it is also rumoured that lion or any other large cat's dung will frighten and hold horses back. Some suggest that if you attach a long clip-on rein (available from saddlery shops) to the bridle, you will be able to turn a horse from outside the rider's reach. This has never been tried and sounds dangerous. If are actually charged head on, some suggest that if you sit or lie close together, then the horses will stop or swerve to avoid you. We don't really know if these tactics work.
Women have faced sexual assaults and obscene comments on actions. A minority of security guards and police thrive on this power relationship, particularly when carrying women off a work site. Complaints to senior security managers and the police have occasionally been taken seriously in the past, but don't rely on this.
British female activists have discussed many ways to deal with this problem without having to rely on the authorities to sort it out. The most effective is to build stronger female solidarity and support. Ideally if someone is assaulted or insulted, they would tell the other women on the campaign who would go to the site as soon as possible and identify, surround and "shame" the man. Hopefully the other guards will shun the offender and force him to leave. Often women prefer to deal with these things themselves in their own way, as male protesters may make the situation worse by getting macho and over-protective. Men need to be aware of these issues and try and be helpful, supportive and sensitive.
Violence from protesters
People on actions may lose their temper and lash out, particularly if provoked. If someone appears close to breaking point, try to calm them down and take them away from the provocation. If you know an individual is prone to violence, you might not want to tell them about certain actions. Beware of "agents provocateurs" - infiltrators whose mission is to stir up aggression and generate physical conflict.
If politicians and the media decide that an event was "violent", don't condemn it. This just plays into their hands. Highlight the damage and violence that is used by the state. Expose eco- vandalism for the violent act that it is.
Chapter 11 - Reclaim the Streets
Across the world people are taking to the streets, demanding an end to stinking concrete car culture. Direct action against cars, and for increased mobility and safety for cyclists and pedestrians, can take many forms. The emphasis is on celebration.
Critical Mass Bicycle Rides
These are gatherings of cyclists who ride together, en masse, taking control of the road space. Critical mass is pure inspiration, for those who ride and have seen their streets temporarily transformed from a transport sewer into a peaceful space for the living. Around thirty towns and cities in Britain have a regular ride, and the number is growing. Spontaneity, flexibility and freedom are what it is about. It is not just a demonstration, but people riding their bikes together, each with their own motivation.
Making it happen doesn't require centralised organisation or leaders. Just talk to likely people. Pick a safe car-free meeting space in a central location, set a regular convenient time (e.g. 5.30 pm on the last Friday of every month) and then make some fliers. Hand these out to passing cyclists, flypost them, put them in cycle shops and on notice boards. Don't include names of individuals, groups or any telephone numbers on the flier.
On the day, anybody can suggest a route. Be ready to adapt and keep together, even if that involves those at the back going through a red light. If there are only five of you don't try to take up the whole road as this will be too risky. The police may ask who is in charge. The correct answer is - NOBODY. Most encounters with car drivers should be friendly, don't forget to wear a smile. Have leaflets printed up to give out to pedestrians and drivers explaining what is going on.
At traffic lights and junctions, outriders, sometimes known as "corkers", can block waiting cars so that drivers won't be tempted to drive into the critical mass. When you meet the odd nutter, you'll usually do better with a sense of humour and proportion than a hostile attitude. Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy the calm created by lots of push bikes and bells. For more information see Critical Mass: How To (see Chapter xx), and have a browse through the World Wide Website - http://www.ph.ed.ac.uk/~jonivar/greens/cm.html
Traditional street party celebrations were once a regular occurrence in Britain's towns and cities. They have all but died out; another casualty of the motor car. Showing how things could be different is fun and inspiring. Ideally, street parties can temporarily recreate a sense of community that has been all but lost to the pollution and danger of cars. There are different levels of defiance. Community groups may want to make a noise about traffic calming in their neighbourhood by holding a legal street party. You will need to get police permission, invite the whole community and local councillors. If you are refused permission, keep trying and then consider holding an illegal party. If planning an illegal party, the location will have to be kept secret to all but a few. Advertise a meeting place elsewhere and then take people on a mystery tour to the party.
Location group -
About four people who decide the party location. The location must remain secret until the blockade is in place.
Blockading groups -
These groups quickly put a section of the blockade in place. Only one person in each blockading group needs to know the location, and groups don't need to know what the others are doing. They need to liaise with their support group, and should acquire and store their equipment in advance. There are many different ways of blocking a road to traffic. For example, you could stage a mock car crash, erect scaffolding tripods, hold a critical mass or a pedestrian procession carrying banners. These tactics will work if the blockade is quick and unexpected. Other ideas might include street theatre, redirecting traffic with mock road signs or groups of people continuously walking across zebra crossings. A combination of these, plus your own ideas, should establish a temporary blockade.
Blockading support groups -
These groups reinforce the initial blockade. They assemble somewhere else, waiting for a signal from the blockading group, before moving quickly to the location. The police are likely to be monitoring support groups.
Traffic redirectors -
Deal with traffic until the police arrive. Explain what is happening, suggest alternative routes and invite motorists to join in.
When the blockade is in place, making the party a success relies on getting a large number of people there quickly from the publicised meeting place. The meeting point should be a public space from which a large number of people can move relatively quickly to the target location, either on foot or by public transport. Guides should be easily identifiable and their identifying feature must be networked through the crowd at the last minute. For example, a legal briefing leaflet distributed at the meeting place could also include a message saying something like, "Follow the people in wigs, holding helium-filled balloons".
Press liaison -
It may be worth setting a time and place to meet the media. Press releases should NOT include the location of the Street Party even if you embargo it.
Police liaison -
This is optional. One person could take on the role of approaching the police to give them just enough information to keep them off your back. Don't tell them anything useful, especially the secret location. If they think they know what is going on, then they are less likely to over-react. For example, give them a finish time and tell them that there will be an army of litter pickers. Use a false name. If you hear anyone saying too much, step in and chat about the weather.
Mobile phones in each group are the ideal means of communication but be careful what you say. Don't specify the location until the blockades are in place. Consider using code names for people and locations. Mobile phones can be tapped and you don't know who is listening nearby.
Information leaflets will help to spread the message of what the party is about. Separate, appropriately styled leaflets for pedestrians and motorists are ideal.
Organise some legal support to advise on the legal implications of the action and to take care of anyone arrested. Breach of the Peace and Obstruction of the Highway are the most likely charges if you block a road. Prepare bust cards and set up a team of action observers.
Now celebrate the car free space and show its possibilities. Groups can take on setting up a safe children's play area, sandpit, cafe, music (acoustic and amplified), banners between lamp-posts (for climbing them, see lamp-post prussiking in the Appendix), street decoration (eg. painting, tree planting), information stalls and theatre. These things can take up to two months to organise, as you have to book performers and persuade them to take part for free. Be sensitive to local residents - think about noise pollution and general disturbance.
Ending The Party
Tell the police (don't ask them, tell them) that the party will end at a certain time - the music will stop, the banners will come down and litter will be cleared. It is a good idea to have a procession to somewhere else - a park or indoor venue - where partying can carry on, or where people can disperse. Telling the police this, may persuade them to let you end the party, rather than them breaking it up by force. Protect expensive equipment, like sound systems, from being impounded by the police. It is important to communicate clearly that leaving at a certain time is the intention of the people who planned the party - not a concession to the police. The end of the party is the point where the police may wade in heavily against stragglers. They create violent scenes which can then be used to discredit what has actually been a wonderful day. Think about what state you want the street to be in when you leave; impassable to motor vehicles, colourfully decorated, a vegetable garden, or a beer can graveyard. The above was written with experience from London street parties. The largest party of 1996 saw 8,000 people reclaim, redecorate and plant trees in a six-lane motorway.
Cycle Lane Painting
Painting your own cycle lanes on roads is a way of gradually reclaiming road space back from aggressive motorists. In London, various councils stated that they would create a network of cycle lanes throughout the city. When they failed to keep to their deadline, activists went out and finished the job. Make a good stencil from lino or cardboard, copy the official bike symbol and use the right paint. Busy junctions and traffic lights are especially good target areas.
Car Bouncing Bonanza
Radical pedestrians have taken to direct action against cars parked on pavements. Choose a street near you where cars regularly park on the pavement, make some stickers saying something like "Pavements are for People", and get bouncing! It takes about 10 people to bounce them into the road. Be gentle on your backs.
Chapter 12 - Tools for the Job
Direct action is an evolving art form - "Necessity breeds ingenuity". Remember that the enemy have avidly read this and every other similar guide, and will be constantly devising methods to beat the "tools" described - so you MUST innovate, improve and invent. Your imagination is the limit! Various different methods of obstruction can be used in combination. Here are some ideas used now.
Padlocks and chains
put on gates cause confusion and may hold up work, while they run around looking for the keys and then bolt croppers. Superglue or liquid metal in their padlocks means that they have to cut off their own locks and keep buying new ones.
are a classic direct action tool. Get them from bike shops - the more you pay, the stronger they are. They fit neatly around pieces of machinery, gates and your neck. It is worth working in pairs when trying to lock on. The person to lock on carries the U shaped section, and loops it around both a suitable fixed piece of machine and their neck. Then their "buddy", carrying lock barrel and key, secures the lock, and hides, or runs off with the key. If locking on to a machine, someone must let the driver know that operating it will break someone's neck. If locking on, you may be there for some time, so choose your point carefully. They may remove any blankets or seats you have, and isolate you from other protesters, sometimes forming a screen around you.
You may want to keep a spare key about your person but they may search you for it. If the buddy stays (with key) within earshot, then you can be released in an emergency. It is important that anything you lock onto cannot be removed or unscrewed. Gates can be removed from their hinges, so consider securing the hinge side as well as the opening side. Most contractors have their own hydraulic bolt croppers, which cut the strongest lock in seconds. The lock gives a frightening jolt when cut, so don't lock on if you have a neck injury. Locks are most effective on targets remote from croppers.
are particularly good underneath machines if you can find inaccessible bits to lock yourself to. They have also been used in tree evictions to attempt to "capture" bailiffs. Loops of strong cord or tape can often be just as effective and are cheaper. Decent handcuffs are difficult to find. Army surplus or "sex shops" sometimes sell weak but expensive ones. Most handcuffs can be undone with a standard key type, which security, police and bailiffs often carry.
(from army surplus shops) are quite good, pocket-sized and tricky to get off. However, some would argue that contractors may take less care if it is just your thumb locked on. Try to get double-locking ones which won't keep tightening.
Coat loop lock-ons
These are effective, low tech and cheap. They work by you wrapping your arms around something e.g. a tree or a vehicle axle, and then putting your wrists through loops sewn into your coat lining, under your armpits - right wrist to left armpit and vice versa. Coat loop lock-ons are inconspicuous and mean you are always ready for action! Sew about a metre of strong, tough material - old seat belts and climbing tape - into your coat horizontally across the shoulder blades up to the armholes. Then double back the excess and sew the ends very firmly into place to form loops. The bigger the loops, the easier they are to find in a panicky situation. The smaller they are, the harder it is for them to pull your hands out (although you can twist the loops round and round so they tighten around your wrists). Practice with them.
It works as the tape goes around your shoulder blades directing the pressure around your back rather than on the coat. The loops are very difficult to get to, being under your garments and under your armpits. They may rip or cut your coat to get to them, so use an old coat.
It would be lovely to see a "cherry-picker" hydraulic platform locked to a tree or building during an eviction. To make a cherry-picker catcher you will need several metres of strong chain or steel cable that can't be cut by manual bolt croppers. The length will depend on the height and method of attachment. The basic idea is to firmly attach one end to a tree or building and then, during eviction, quickly lock the other end through the cherry-picker basket. You will need to surprise and distract the bailiffs.
Cable will require a loop at each end, secured with U-bolts with screw threads mangled, so that they can't be undone. Get the best D-lock you can afford and use it either to directly lock the end to the cherry-picker, or loop the cable or chain around part of the bucket, locking it back to itself. They shouldn't be able to cut this unless they start to carry expensive hydraulic bolt croppers in every cherry-picker. If they do, throw them to the floor. If they send another cherry-picker up to rescue the first, catch that too!
Tubes made from plastic or metal piping, the diameter of a clothed arm, are a versatile tool. They need to be the length of two arms, ideally with a strong metal pin welded in the middle. Pairs of people with two tubes can defend a small tree or immobilise a machine. You need to link your arms together inside the tubes, either with handcuffs, or loops of strong cord or climbing tape with karabiners, encircling the object. Be aware that if you lock-on with handcuffs, you won't be able to release yourself.
A shorter tube can be used by one person around a digger arm or prop-shaft for example. For comfort, pad the top of the tube, and keep your arm lower than your heart to maintain blood flow. The number of people in arm tubes determines how large an object you can encircle. If you lie down as a group of say ten people (i.e. 10 tubes) with your feet in the centre of a circle, quite a large area can be covered. Arm tubes have been used to blockade gateways, roads and even airport runways. To remove you, they must cut the tube using hacksaws or angle grinders. Once one tube is cut then the whole circle is broken.
Concrete lock-ons, also called "dragons", are an advancing technology. Set in chimney stacks, in houses, up trees, at the base of trees, in oil barrels, in roads, in cars (immobilised or still drivable) and in tunnels, they have delayed evictions by days. Mobile lock-ons pose a real threat to free flowing infrastructure systems...
All lock-ons are constructed from an arm tube, with a metal crossbar at the bottom, which is then set in concrete. The concrete mix, 1 part cement to 3 parts sandy aggregate, can be strengthened using washing up liquid. Pieces of chopped-up tyres and metal mesh can be added to the mix to hinder drilling out the concrete. Surround the cross bar and arm tube with lots of metal, e.g. a car wheel. The concrete ideally needs months to set to its full strenght. Make them well in advance. On some campaigns, gas canisters have been conspicuously embedded in the lock-on, to deter use of power tools. This has led to the police threatening arrest for explosives offences, so those lock-ons were dismantled by protesters. When building, plan for a comfortable locking on position.
If you're making lots of lock-ons over a large area in a short time, a mobile concreting team with a small mixer might be a sensible way to organise. Ideally, the person who makes the lock-on should be the person who uses it. Try to keep the location of lock-ons quiet and perhaps have one show- piece lock-on to demonstrate to new people.
To lock-on, put your arm down the arm-tube and use climbing tape (perhaps reinforced with wire) plus a karabiner, or anything strong and comfortable which can join your arm to the cross bar. The bailiffs will remove you if they can without actually cracking the lock-on. They often stick a hooked blade on a pole down the tube, to cut any cord or tape attaching you to the lock-on. Fibre-optic remote scopes have been used to see what your arm is attached with. Padding the arm-tube with foam, fabric, cardboard etc, can hinder this. Of course they may tickle you, use threats and intimidation or inflict pain using pressure points or twisting your arm until you unlock yourself. If you are up a tree, they may light fires underneath you to smoke you out.
If they can't get your arm out, they will firstly use an angle-grinder or similar to cut through any outer barrel or other metal coating, then use small pneumatic drills to get through the concrete. They will then need to cut through the arm tube - probably using an angle-grinder. Try surrounding the arm tube with several concentric tubes of increasing diameter, with the spaces filled with concrete to slow their progress further. All this should take quite a while, and will be noisy, dusty and scary. Have your own goggles, ear plugs and dust mask. Prepare for a long stay with food, water and warm clothes. Lock-on at the very last moment as it can be uncomfortable, and go to the loo first!
Dig a hole and drive metal rods halfway into the surrounding soil from the hole before pouring the concrete in. Use one of the rods as the cross bar for the arm tube. Ground lock-ons are best positioned on access routes and at the base of trees. If you can build it amongst the tree's roots, this will reduce the area they have to work in.
Multiple arm tubes are more sociable and restrict access to the lock-on, due to the number of people lying around. Try placing something over a lock-on, leaving enough room to get your arm to it. Cattle-grids, steel plates, lorry wheels and dead cars have all been used. To make it even harder, weld the object to the lock-on.
Alternatively you could build a scaffold / steel bar sculpture, embedded in concrete, leaving only enough room in between to lock-on. You could use rotating bars for this sculpture. Place metal bars inside scaffold poles, packed with grease and ball bearings. Weld the ends to seal them. The rod will spin inside the pole if they try to cut it with an angle grinder. These bars could also be embedded in a lock-on. Ground lock-ons in the bottom of a deep, narrow shaft should force them to dig down to you to before they can attack the lock-on. Lock on with your feet. One lock-on has been made with ski-boots!
Find a sturdy fork in a strong tree. You may need to build a small platform as a base. Then build the lock-on up the tree, hauling cement up a bucket at a time. Make it big, or they'll lower you still attached to it. They may chip some of it away, then lower it. Try and place it somewhere awkward.
Felled tree lock-ons:
With this method, each felled tree returns to haunt them! If doing a single lock-on, drill a hole the diameter of your arm and a forearm's length into the thickest part of a felled trunk. To make the hole use a large auger or a chainsaw (very carefully). Remove the bark gently and use it to conceal the finished work. Get a steel eye with a strong screw thread on it, e.g. a gate hinge eye, and screw it into the bottom. Lock onto this.
Alternatively, you could drill all the way through so that two people can lock their wrists together, in the middle from either side. Reinforce the trunk by hammering nails and bits of metal around the lock-on. Smaller logs can be used as a mobile road blocking lock-on.
Some suggest that similar lock-ons in living trees would be effective and wouldn't kill the tree, but this is very controversial and likely to upset a lot of people.
If you don't get a chance to teach chainsaws to fly, or run off with the petrol can, you'll need special tools to stop them.
These are made from frayed synthetic rope or fabric. If flicked at the chainsaw blade, the whip will catch in the saw teeth, and be dragged into the drive mechanism. Make sure you let go! The synthetic fibres clog up the drive mechanism and may melt into it. Note which direction the saw teeth are moving, so that you whip the correct side.
Fine grain sand, mixed with wallpaper paste and short lengths of fishing line, can be used to stuff condoms or balloons. Throw these at chainsaw blades. The mixture needs to be viscous so that it sticks to the blade when it hits.
Try coating the tree at chainsaw level with sticky biodegradable gunk, such as molasses. You can embed sand, kevlar pieces (from tree surgeons' protective trousers) and pieces of wire into the gunk.
Invasive Tree Defence:
There is debate as to whether this is a holistic and nonviolent tactic. Some feel it harms the tree and causes it pain. Others counter this by saying that if trees face death, then some damage done trying to protect them is acceptable. Iron does not kill trees, but copper or brass will poison it.
The safest, and arguably most useful, invasive technique is to wrap the tree in frayed polyprop covered in stapled-down chicken wire and metal cable, nailed down corrugated iron and other bits of metal, bitumen, etc. Please remove it if you win!
Spiking involves driving large nails or similar deep into the tree. See Ecodefense for methods (Chapter xx). Chainsaw operators might be injured if their saw unexpectedly hits a spike within a tree, and "kicks back". Some would argue that this risk does not make this a nonviolent tactic. Unless the spiking is blatantly obvious, you must have permanent warning signs. The chainsaw operators would then have to carefully and slowly remove all metal before starting work. They may use metal detectors for this, so make sure they know if you're using non-metal spikes (eg. ceramic or plastic).
Spiking has been most effective when used to fight large logging operations outside Britain, where the developer's goal is to clear-cut forest and process the timber. Spikes can mangle processing machinery in the saw mill. Where the objective is to stop trees being trashed rather than to stop their felling for timber, spiking may not be very effective - especially as many trees are simply bulldozed here, and usually burnt.
Tripods have successfully been used as a mobile, easily-erected blockade. They are made from easily obtainable materials - scaffold poles from building sites, or long, straight tree trunks (use their work against them!). Sustained tripod sits in conspicuous places near major roads are a good campaign advert and focal point.
If you have rope or short scaffold poles fixed about 5 foot from the top of the tripod, they won't be able to lower the tripod by pulling it's legs apart. At Newbury in 1996, security guards used a LandRover with a roof rack, which they reversed in under the tripod apex. They stood on the roof and pulled down the sitter, after cutting any handcuffs or locks. It may be worth working on LandRover-proofing; for instance, positioning the tripod so they can't drive under it, or overlapping the legs of several tripods for mutual protection. Cherry-pickers have also been used.
These haven't been used in Britain, but have successfully blocked logging roads in the US and Australia. They generally need careful assembly in advance.
A bipod can be incorporated between two tripods, linked with a rope or further poles via the apex of each structure. The stability of the bipod depends entirely on its link to the two tripods. This method defends a larger area than separate tripods.
These haven't been used much. They can be dug vertically into the ground and shinned up to create an obstacle. Alternatively, you could perch them at bizarre angles, fixing one end, to form a cantilever, and dangle from the free end! There are lots of variations on this basic technique. All look fairly dangerous.
You can buy these very cheaply, and register them with a false name and address. Be aware that driving an unroadworthy, uninsured, untaxed car will get you arrested if you're stopped. You can use scrap cars to quickly blockade a gate, road, motorway, or just about anything. Lock- ons can be built into the car to make them an even more potent tool, or you can just lock onto the chassis. To start the blockade, quickly immobilise the car by slashing tyres, removing wheels, or turning it over.
These are nasty, small, multi-spiked metal objects, designed so that they always lie with a point upwards. They puncture the tyres of any vehicle which drives over them, and so can be placed on access roads or tossed under the wheels. They should only be used on a slow-moving or stationary vehicle. There are many problems with caltrops. They are dangerous to drivers if used on a fast-moving vehicle, and to people and animals if trodden on. If you are caught using or even carrying them, you are likely to be arrested for possession of an offensive weapon, or perhaps something more serious. Because they look menacing, the police will happily use them to discredit your campaign by calling them "weapons". They are not even a particularly reliable vehicle-stopper, as a tyre can miss them. Therefore, we advise thinking very carefully before using caltrops at all.
Reliable smoke distress signals can be bought at boat jumbles for about £4. (see a copy of Practical Boat Owner magazine). They billow out loads of thick coloured smoke, and will float on water. Smaller, cheaper versions can be bought at paintball shops. Set them off upwind, to hinder an eviction, cover an action, escape, or provide a diversion. Don't get caught with one, as the police don't like them.
Quickcuffs (see Chapter 10) and handcuffs may be used by police, bailiffs and climbers to catch you during evictions. To prevent this, try this simple and effective idea. Cut a cardboard strip about 20 cm x 60 cm. Wrap this quite tightly around your wrist and forearm, and tape it to form a tapering cylinder. Then cut a hole for your thumb, so that you can hold onto the gauntlet if anyone tries to pull it off.
Chapter 13 - Campaign Security
When you jump off the fence and actively try to stop a road, you make powerful enemies. The institutions that push roads see any rebellion, however mild, as an aberration, and have the ability and the desire to stamp on it. This section suggests some measures which might make it more difficult for "them" to harass you, the campaign, and its supporters. Some have said that if we are justified, we will have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. This might be true if we were playing village cricket, but the State is neither a "good sport" nor a gracious loser. People attending just one peaceful mass rally at Twyford Down found themselves on a DoT Injunction, and were sued for a share of œ1.9m - quite a price for a day out! If you seriously challenge the State, they will try to squash you - and if your protest isn't a threat, why are you bothering at all? The more effective you appear, the more harassment you can expect: surveillance, smears, infiltration, heavy policing, systematic violence, and so on. Don't let the fear of this intimidate you, as that's exactly what it's meant to do. Expect it as the price of effectiveness, and be prepared to counter it.
The main weapon you can expect to experience, especially in the early stages of a protest, is information gathering. They need to know who is doing what before they can stop you doing it, and so it's important to get into the habit of letting them know as little as possible.
Always avoid being photographed if you can, and never tell them your name, address or anything else, unless you're actually arrested. Get used to looking out for and avoiding (or obstructing!) specialist evidence gathering teams (see page yyy). Don't call out anyone's name in earshot of police or contractors, and be extra careful what you say if there are evidence gatherers around. Face-paints and masks, home-made or from joke shops, are particularly useful to people on bail or injuncted (unless they are the only mask-wearers). You could dress uniformly in certain circumstances; for example, if everyone wears identical cheap boiler suits, the evidence gatherers will have a harder job.
A word about chatting to the police - don't. The police are never on your side, however "nice" they appear, and are always trying to wheedle little nuggets of information from you. Be especially wary of police with specialised "friendly" roles, such as protester liaison. The Metropolitan Police have set up "Forward Intelligence Teams" who get to know activists and groups over a period of time, in an attempt to predict and control actions. We strongly advise having as little as possible to do with this sort of slimy character, except to expose them and their role every time you see them. Of course, the same principles apply to private detectives and other surveillance junkies. Be aware that media coverage is very useful as a source of information to your enemies. Be careful of what you say. If you deal with the media, you might want to use a false name, or insist on being called "a spokesperson". Of course, if you already have a relationship with journalists, and have appeared before, there's little point in this.
Never let police or private detectives into your office. If police turn up with a Search Warrant, stall them for as long as possible by asking to see it, and try demanding to have a solicitor present. Keep the office locked up securely at night. Because dodgy characters may arrive incognito, keep anything sensitive out of immediate view. Never allow anyone to film or take photos in the office, and think carefully before letting journalists in at all. Dividing the office into "zones" helps keep it secure, and stops casual wanderings. Buildings with several rooms and doors are best for this.
Don't give anyone's address or home phone number over the telephone, it is better to take the caller's number and pass it on yourself to the relevant person. Always assume that office phones are tapped and the office is bugged. Never say anything that really matters over any phone. Digital mobile phones are more secure than analogue ones. However, they can still be bugged, and their use allows your position to be tracked to within 50 feet! Mobile phone providers record and store the numbers you call, and where you called them from.
Computer And Document Security
You must look after your supporter database and mailing lists, as the police would love to get their hands on them. If they're on computer, you should definitely encrypt them with PGP or similar software (see page yyy). If you encrypt anything, make sure there are no unencrypted copies lurking on the hard drive. Don't keep paper copies in the office unless you really need to; if you do, hide them really well. Whatever you decide to do, make sure there are several back- up copies of the database in secure places away from the office. Only one or two people ever need know where these are.
Be very careful with other vital documents (eg. phone trees, address books, message books). Protect and keep safe copies of anything that the police might find useful, and everything the campaign can't afford to lose. Ditch anything that might get anyone into trouble. If someone produces an incriminating document, wipe it from computer discs and hard drives immediately, using an appropriate program (eg. WipeInfo). Burn paper originals. Of course, there needs to be a balance between security and workability, as there's no point having an office if no-one can use it.
Your campaign will be infiltrated, whether it's someone sitting quietly at the back of a single meeting, or cops with dreadlocks living full-time on protest camps for months. You are very unlikely to spot infiltrators, and can waste masses of energy and cause loads of grief trying to do so. (See also "mutual support" in Chapter 14)
If you publish leaflets, pamphlets, newsletters or books publicising actions, beware the "thought police"! In an attempt to control information available to the general public about grass roots activism, the British police are increasingly raiding, making arrests and charging people with "conspiracy to incite". The targets so far have been Animal Liberation Front (ALF) spokespeople, and Green Anarchist editors. One ALF spokesperson was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1987 for "conspiring to incite others". This is the thin end of a large wedge designed to isolate and neutralise radical activity. Targets for the "thought police" will undoubtedly grow to include environmental activists.
Chapter 14 - Sustaining yourself and the Campaign Community
To keep a campaign focused and dynamic, we need to reduce the number of things within the campaign which limit its effectiveness. Respect and communication between one another, and looking out for yourself and other people, will help the campaign run more smoothly. This chapter attempts to deal with problems that have happened in the past, and suggests some ideas to deal with them.
Campaigns are usually made up of a very mixed bunch indeed. That is usually their strength, and reflects the diversity of nature. People get involved for many different reasons and there is usually a wide range of motivations and political views within a campaign. There will also be a whole multitude of objectives and many differing views on how best to achieve them.
The campaign must make sure that this diversity builds strength and does not divide. Doing this requires tolerance. It is when people start to think that they are the only ones who are right and that other people are doing things wrongly (ie. they become intolerant), that problems arise.
Everyone has different skills to offer. For instance, some may be very practical and will like to build tree houses or lock ons, some may have good strategic brains and will want to plan intricate blockades, others are good at staying calm and communicating and like to stay in the office, some like to do all the hard work which keeps a protest camp going - collecting wood and cooking healthy food. Your campaign will be really strong if everyone is doing what they are best at and enjoy most (although it is a good idea to rotate roles, especially boring ones). It only becomes a problem when egocentric people think that their way of campaigning is the only way, and that everyone should drop their own plans and fall in line.
If this happens, discuss it as a campaign and deal with it sooner rather than later. People can get tunnel vision and become very intense and difficult to communicate with, so if they are criticising others for doing things differently, tackle this or it will fester. Discuss how valuable diversity is within a campaign. There needs to be a respect of differences at the very least - and at the very best, there will be a celebration of all your talents, skills and opinions.
Whatever the outcome of your campaign - win or lose - it will stir up the most extreme of emotions in you. You will experience extraordinary things very quickly. Many people find that a direct action campaign is the most important, life-changing and empowering thing they ever go through in their lives. But some, especially if you lose and what you seek to protect is destroyed, say that it was their worst experience ever, and that they couldn't go through that pain again. All in all, direct action can sometimes be very traumatic for most people. The best way to cope with all the stresses is to help and support one another.
With everyone going through such strange emotional upheavals, strong friendships will develop, and direct action can certainly build up the sense of community that is very much lacking in modern society. However, stress and frustration may manifest as internalised anger and in-fighting. This is one of the most destructive, distressing and time-consuming things that can occur.
Infighting usually comes from people under stress who are looking for someone to blame and scapegoat. It can manifest itself as mistrust, bullying, intimidation, abuse and gossip. Be aware if people are spreading malicious rumours and bad feeling; they are either hyper-stressed or dodgy - this is a common tactic used by infiltrators to destabilise groups. Before getting suspicious, try talking to this person to see if there is any substance to their accusations. Paranoid witch hunts help no-one.
Try to avoid stress and frustration by supporting one another. We are neither inexhaustible machines nor soldiers who can consistently take loads of abuse. It is positively healthy to get upset about it all - it would be worrying if you were not affected. It is important that people talk, giving one another time to listen to worries and stresses.
After being thrown around all day by security guards you may feel very abused. Make sure that you look after each other. Make someone a cup of tea if they look like they need it. Look out for signs of serious stress in each other. Massage is a very nice way to relax and comfort someone. Don't forget the "strong" people who may pretend to be fine all the time.
Don't be afraid to let each other know what you are feeling. Many people find that they cannot cope with the stresses of campaigning for very long. Others don't realise that they are not coping very well and still carry on, possibly leading to burnout (see below).
Some people may have, or develop, more serious problems which affect their mental health. The rollercoaster of emotions and experiences which characterises direct action campaigning may make these problems worse. If someone really needs help, give them as much support as you can, whilst encouraging or arranging experienced specialised advice. There are no easy answers, but independent advice centres and groups like The Samaritans and MIND (see Chapter xx) could be a good start point.
Burn-out is common on direct action protests. It can be cumulatively caused by several things: sudden change in lifestyle, taking on too much, not having enough time for oneself, constant pressure, exposure to destruction of places we love, abuse from people who don't care, poor diet, sleep deprivation. If action is taken when someone is sliding into burnout, it can be prevented and the activist can return to campaigning. If preventative measures are not taken, burnout can seriously affect someone's life and at the very least cause them to give up campaigning.
Stress reaction begins with the release of adrenaline, which gives temporary bursts of energy. By continually pushing ourselves harder we can stay on a high, but this cannot last. This should be followed by relaxing, curling up in a corner and recuperating. If we don't recuperate, ignoring messages that something is wrong, then our bodies and minds will resort to something painful or dramatic to get our attention. This is burn-out.
The symptoms of burn-out can include: being really intense but unfocused, inability to reason and communicate clearly, hair- trigger emotions which quickly produce tears or flare-ups, paranoia, chronic fatigue, falling asleep everywhere, minor illnesses, frequent headaches, stomach pains, backache, depression, anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed.
It is difficult to deal with, as the person concerned usually claims that they are fine. If you notice people around you going close to the edge, try to ease their pressure without challenging them. If you suspect you are burning out, don't be afraid to ask for help. Burn-out treatment could include steadily delegating responsibilities, avoiding new ones and taking a break. The campaign will not stop without you, and a refreshed person is far more useful than a burnt-out shell. Eat well, sleep well, have a change of scene and pamper yourself with hot baths and massages. More serious cases may require weeks or months away from the campaign. Stay physically active but avoid responsibilities or mentally straining work. Try long walks, gardening and tree planting.
Sexism is everywhere but it may surprise people how often it crops up in direct action campaigns. Women may have very different direct action experiences to men, so the issue is very important to discuss. Outright sexism is rare in campaigns (it is not usually tolerated), but it is usually manifested in many more subtle ways such as machismo and competition.
Direct action can slip into machismo very easily as it involves many traditional "male" stereotypes: "bravery", "endurance", "conflict". Try to avoid this. It is more likely to be men who get very carried away with all the excitement and see direct action as a competition. Humour is a good way to bring the over-eager back to reality. Co-operation and inclusiveness will do more for the campaign than individual acts of bravery and heroic elitism.
This is all very difficult to do when there are more men than women in the campaign. Try to avoid this happening as it will be very difficult to get the gender balance back. At every campaign, when there are more men than women at camps, it has inevitably spiralled out of control until, in some cases, all the women were driven away! Women can get fed up with some men's domineering attitudes and behaviour. When other women turn up they're equally put off by the inequality and the lack of female support. One symptom of this is that some women feel as if they have to act aggressively just to get themselves heard.
It is shocking how many protest camps fall so easily into stereotyped roles - with women often ending up doing the cooking, clearing and washing up. This is NOT to say that these are unimportant, only that they must be shared by ALL. Challenge out-dated gender stereotypes!
Women-only actions and camps have occurred in many campaigns. You could try it out for yourself and see what you think, if gender is becoming an issue. Womens' actions have kick- started direct action against many issues around the world. Some women find it the only way to work.
t is also very noticeable that some men frequently talk over and interrupt people (especially women) in meeting situations. Men should be aware of this recurring problem and try and respect all contributions equally. If we are to successfully challenge the predominantly patriarchal system which brings about the environmental destruction we are fighting, then we must look at ourselves and our interactions. Women should not be made to feel unable to make suggestions for action because of others being macho, sexist or bullying. Throw-away sexist comments are insulting to many women, and it is men who must be aware and desist.
The step from living in a house to living communally with many others in a protest camp is a major one. Communal life is about compromise, communication and co-existence. This section is not about the practicalities of a camp set-up (see Chapter xx for that), but suggests ways of making camp life more harmonious.
One of the best ways to ensure communication is for a camp to hold frequent meetings, so that decisions are made by everyone. Communal meals are an essential part of camp social life and should be held at the same time every night. They are also a good preliminary to a meeting, so that gossip and banter can happen beforehand.
Protest camps attract a wide diversity of people, not all of whom have come to stop the road. Camps need to discuss, as a community, acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and ways to work things out if problems arise. It is essential that any decisions which are likely to be controversial are discussed collectively. Defining the boundary between the communal and the private, in terms of property and personal space, may prevent problems later. Communal living should not mean never having any time to yourself or any privacy; in fact these aspects are essential. Be considerate of others' privacy and needs.
If a camp grows too big, not only will the land suffer, but consensus on decision making will become harder. This is a good time to consider splitting into two camps. In defensive camps this can make good strategic sense too.
A welcoming atmosphere will help to build a campaign and sustain the people in it. Try to make the camp environment as welcoming and friendly as possible. Mark the entrance to your camp with colourful painted gates or archways. Talk to every visitor and newcomer, make them a cup of tea and explain how the camp works - communal meals, meetings, loos, washing up, sleeping space, info bender, camp agreements etc.
Basic tasks such as washing up, cooking, firewood and water collection and tidying up hold your community together. They should be shared and not seen as chores, but opportunities to get to know one another. Set up a communal fund to cover food and general camp needs. Someone should take on the role of collecting these funds. If everyone contributes then no-one will go hungry. People without money should not be excluded, and providing they put time and effort into the camp, everyone can usually support them willingly.
Occasionally, some people or groups differ greatly in opinion, or just cannot get on for whatever reason. In these circumstances, it is best to amicably agree to disagree, perhaps move to or set up another camp, and concentrate on stopping the road.
If individuals start to behave in a way which is not acceptable to the rest of the camp, with no obvious excuse, this needs to be addressed. One method of getting people to contribute more is to call a camp meeting where everyone, in turn, says what they have been doing to help the camp or campaign. It should become apparent to the troublesome person that they are not contributing positively.
For more serious situations where someone's conduct has upset the camp - stealing, using or threatening violence, or being consistently and uncontrollably drunk for example - a meeting can be a forum for confronting and discussing these problems. After complaints have been heard, the person should be given the opportunity to explain themselves and offer to change. The collective should decide whether to give them another chance (perhaps with help to change) or they should be asked to leave.
Drunkenness may be a problem on campaigns, especially at protest camps. Drunk people are a liability on actions, will present an unwelcoming image, get aggressive easily, have damaged campaign offices, and have started fights. Even if drunken people do not do these things, their behaviour can be intimidating and insensitive to others. Similar problems can also arise from drugs other than alcohol. Some camps such as the Pollok Free State in Glasgow have at times become alcohol-free zones. This will not necessarily be the end of the problem, as it will need people strongly committed to the ban, and prepared to back each other up, to succeed. People suffering from alcoholism may need to get away from campaigning to deal with it.
Maintaining Personal Stamina
Campaigning can become addictive and individuals may become obsessive. This stems from a feeling of urgency, and a belief that if we don't carry on the campaign will suffer. No individual should become indispensable, and responsibilities must be shared as widely as possible. This means people can stand back and take much needed breaks.
Sleep - When work starts there never seem to be enough hours in the day to stop it. As a result, people often work through the night, planning actions, putting up rope walkways, building defences and writing leaflets or news releases. It is not a competition to see who can stay awake the longest, and having six hours sleep in the last forty-eight won't help you stop a road. Whatever other people do, try to get your head down somewhere quiet when you need to. Take time out every day, with a longer period once a week. Knackered, bad tempered people don't make good decisions.
Food - You are what you eat. If you keep your diet as healthy as possible then you should be able to sustain frenzied campaigning longer. If your diet is mainly derived from skips, try to get fresh fruit and vegetables too. Yeast extract or seaweed contain vitamin B12, which is very important if you are vegetarian or vegan. Land use and food production are both inextricably linked to planet abuse. Being an activist does not make you immune from personal responsibility to the wider natural world.
Drink - There are lots of indigenous medicinal herbs which we can use to make teas. They are tried and tested holistic remedies which it is wise to learn about. They are better for you and less exploitative than multinationally produced tooth-rotting soft drinks, or cash crops from Southern nations. To prevent illness from water butts, sterilise them from time to time using boiling water or Camden tablets (sold for home brewing).
Common Camp Ailments
The remedies mentioned are suggestions and not definite cures. We have concentrated on natural medicine, as some people prefer not to use pharmaceutical drugs and may find it difficult to get to see doctors quickly. If in doubt, speak to someone who knows what they are talking about.
Serious stomach bugs ("Donga Belly") - Symptoms: Eggy burps, bloated guts, flatulence, diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting. It is thought to be caused by Giardia, a protozoan gut parasite. It is spread by people not washing their hands after shitting and via dirty cutlery and crockery, especially if licked by dogs. Prevention is better than cure. If you get it, rest, don't eat, drink lots of fluid, and avoid alcohol which will dehydrate you further.
Try this to balance dehydration caused by diarrhoea - boil one pint of water, add one teaspoon each of salt and sugar. If you have it, also add a teaspoon of slippery elm powder (available from herbalists, health food shops) which helps to protect the stomach lining. Peppermint tea is also good for guts. If the bug refuses to clear up, you could blitz it with the antibiotic "metronidazole". Anyone with bad guts should not cook or prepare food and should keep their own eating utensils as it is infectious.
Trench foot - When living outdoors, especially in winter your feet will get wet. If you don't wash your socks and dry your feet regularly, then they may start to rot. This is trench foot, which can lead to gangrene and, in the worst cases, will only be cured by amputation.
Scabies - This condition is caused by a little female mite burrowing into the skin usually at certain sites: between fingers, on wrists, hands, buttocks and skin folds. Infectious by physical contact (intimate and non-intimate), sharing clothes, bedding etc. To get rid of scabies, try elder leaves, boiled up with lots of garlic, and sponge it on. Elder has a long history of use as an insect repellent. You could also try mixing a few drops (in any combination) of bergamot, lavender, peppermint, or rosemary essential oils, with vodka or vegetable base oil and a very small amount of lemon and / or thyme oil, then rub in between fingers and toes and on other infected parts.
In addition, try rinsing yourself with an infusion of yellow dock root after washing. Crushed garlic, rubbed all over, will get the buggers and make it less likely that you will infect anyone else! If you wash every day and boil your clothes up frequently with some thyme oil in it, you should get rid of them. Ironing clothes also kills the beasties.
If you choose to use a chemical agent, beware of lindane and other organo-phosphates, commonly used to treat scabies etc. as they are nerve poisons.
Head, Body and Pubic Lice - These itchy buggers feed on blood and dead skin. They are happy to move from person to person if they get the chance. They live mainly in hair and clothing. The most effective way to get rid of them is to change clothes and wash and comb your hair using a nit comb. As a last resort shave all your hair off. Any of the above methods mentioned in "scabies" could also work for lice.
Ticks - These are blood-sucking parasites, which wait on the underside of leaves for a passing meal. They bury their mouth parts in you and won't come out. Pull them out carefully or the mouth parts may remain in you and possibly go septic. If they won't come out, twist them anti-clockwise, after suffocating them in Vaseline or, as a last resort, burn them off with a cigarette.
Impetigo - This is an unpleasant bacterial infection which may indicate that you are really run down. The symptoms are itchy pustules, blisters and yellow flaky scabs on the skin which don't heal. New grazes should be washed twice daily with warm water and soap to prevent them becoming infected. It is very contagious so sufferers should have their own personal cutlery and crockery. They should avoid physical contact and keep away from young children.
Most people go to a doctor for antibiotic cream. Homeopathic remedies which may help are Antimonium tartaricum or sulphur. Visit a homeopath or research it before taking anything. Herbs for eating and drinking which may help are heartsease, hops and echinacea (natural antibiotic).
Natural Additions To Your First Aid Kit
· Echinacea tincture - for gum disease and coughs (boosts immune system)
· Comfrey ointment - good for breaks and sprains, speeds up healing
· Slippery elm - lines stomach and helps with rehydration
· Arnica - for physical shock after falls
· Garlic - keeps vampires away
· Lavender Oil - relieves burns
· "Rescue remedy" - for shock
· Valerian - natural sedative
· Tea Tree Oil - antiseptic
Chapter 15 - Legal Issues
When entering into a direct action campaign there are many aspects of the law you will need to learn. As people's liberty could be at stake, it is dangerous to think that the law does not matter, or is irrelevant. Much of what we do brings you into contact with the police, who will nick you for existing if they want to. The campaign and those in it have a responsibility to give people legal support.
Legal stuff can be boring and frustrating, and sometimes seems pointless, but it is an essential facet of any campaign which wants to survive and thrive. It can involve anything from finding good and sympathetic lawyers, encouraging people to act as witnesses for each other, helping each other through court cases, knowing your rights, through to suing the police.
This chapter may appear daunting and there is a lot to know. However, there are lots of groups and lawyers out there who can help your campaign. We have tried to cover things as extensively as possible, but this is not a definitive guide. At the time of writing all the information included in this section is as correct as we can get it - we've checked it with several lawyers - but the law is continually changing. Also, this chapter is based entirely on the law as it stands in England and Wales. There are differences in other parts of the UK. There are two different broad areas of law, civil and criminal. Briefly, civil law covers disputes amongst individuals who can go to the County or High Court to sort it out. Criminal law is where the State (via the police and their solicitors, the Crown Prosecution Service) can take you to the Magistrates or Crown Court, for some "wrong" against "society". There is often overlap between the two, especially when squatting.
Wildlife And Countryside Act 1981
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) makes it an offence to deliberately injure certain wildlife (e.g. bats and birds), and in certain circumstances their homes, particularly those of nesting birds. (Badgers also have their own special protection under the Badgers Act 1992). Unfortunately, there are so many exemptions incorporated into this legislation that it makes it almost toothless against developers and Government. The Act creates various supposedly protective designations for areas of land, eg. Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). Damage to protected areas generally do not count if planning permission has been granted, or the destruction is caused by a government body.
English Nature is supposed to enforce this legislation in England, but they are about as effective a watchdog as a kitten. Although they do have some good environmentalists amongst their ranks, they rarely put up a robust opposition to government projects, simply because they are State funded. If you see anything which is a breach of the WCA, it is worth trying to do something about it. If it is a private company you are opposing, English Nature may be more inclined to act. They are a lever worth pressurising, but never rely on them. There are separate bodies in Wales, Scotland and the north of Ireland with similar functions.
There are several European Directives incorporated into British law that are supposedly designed to protect the environment, and all EU countries theoretically have to obey them. These include the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (all major schemes should have a thorough EIA), the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive. These Directives require the designation of protected areas. For example, the Habitats Directive creates Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), and the Birds Directive creates Special Protection Areas (SPAs).
If you believe that your government has broken a Directive, you will have to make a complaint to the EU and then follow it up. It will take months or years as the wheels of bureaucracy turn very slowly. Don't expect "Europe" to come rushing to your aid - political deals and back-handers are rife. However, complaints may be worth making for the propaganda value. Get in touch with Friends of the Earth or ALARM UK for advice on complaints to the EU Environment Commission.
Public Processions And Assemblies
Public processions and assemblies are subject to legal restrictions, most notably the Public Order Act 1986 (POA), sections 11 - 16, and the Criminal Justice and Public Order 1994 (CJA), sections 70 - 71. The police can ban them, impose conditions and arrest you if you refuse to comply.
Advance notice of processions is required by law, under the POA. The notice is required in writing at the local police station, ideally at least 6 clear days before the procession, and should include routes, times, and names/addresses of organisers. The notice should be given as soon as is "reasonably practicable" - for truly spontaneous demonstrations a phone call at the last minute maybe acceptable. Failure to give notice doesn't mean the march cannot take place, but the organisers and participants could possibly face criminal charges and fines (if they can prove who the "organisers" are!). In practice, your local police might not enforce this. The police can ban a procession by applying to the local authority for an Order. Breaking this Order is a criminal offence.
If the march is permitted, the police have the power to impose conditions (e.g. numbers of stewards, no stopping etc.) and specify routes for the procession, at any time. It is an offence for organisers and participants not to comply with the conditions (max. sentence 3 months prison and / or fine for organisers, fine only for participants).
Public assemblies (static demonstrations of over 20 people in the open air) do not need an advance notice and the police have no powers to ban them, although they can impose on the spot conditions (duration, numbers, place) if serious disruption or damage to property seems likely. Criminal charges can be brought against those not complying with orders (max. sentence 3 months prison and / or Level 4 fine).
Under the CJA sections 70 - 71, the police have massive powers over "trespassory assemblies". They may apply to the local Council (or in London, to the Home Office) for a ban if they believe that a trespassory assembly is planned and may result in either serious disruption to the life of the community, or there will be significant damage to land / building / monument of historical, architectural, archaeological or scientific importance. The ban affects all trespassory assemblies, lasts up to 4 days, and applies to a radius of 5 miles from a specified centre. If you know the assembly is prohibited, it is an arrestable offence to organise, take part in or incite others to take part in it (max. sentence 3 months prison and / or fine). The police have the power to stop or direct people not to proceed in the direction of an assembly within a 5 mile radius, if they believe that they are on their way there. It is an arrestable offence to knowingly fail to comply with the order (Level 3 fine).
Squatting Land And Buildings
Most of squatting is covered by the civil law. The CJA has changed the law and made squatting more difficult, but not illegal. The new method is described separately below under CJA evictions. However, the pre-CJA procedure is still the most commonly used, so we will describe that first. Theoretically the police should not get involved - unless you cause damage, have lots of vehicles or refuse to move if an Interim Possession Order (IPO) has been obtained.
When you squat someone's land or building, you are trespassing on their property. The usual way to get you out is for the owner to go to the civil courts to obtain a Warrant or Writ of Possession and instruct bailiffs. It is time consuming and expensive for the owner, but has existed like that for centuries to protect those who have a legitimate claim to a property from being kicked out by unscrupulous and powerful people.
A totally different set of laws apply if you are squatting somewhere that someone is already living in. You will get kicked out almost immediately. So, the old Sun-style stereotype of squatters moving in when a family goes on holiday is a load of rubbish. People usually squat a building that has been left empty for ages and is going to waste.
The usual pretext for the police getting involved with these procedures is if there has been damage done to the property, e.g. to locks, doors and windows, or burglary (ingredients being trespass and criminal damage, or theft, including that of electricity), or if violence is used to get in (Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977), or if a Breach of the Peace has occurred.
Criminal Law Act 1977 - Sections 6 and 12
You have some protection from forced eviction under the Criminal Law Act 1977 (CLA). Section 6 of this Act makes it an offence to "use or threaten violence to secure entry to any premises when it is known that there is someone present on the premises who is opposed to the entry". The penalty is up to 6 months imprisonment or a Level 5 fine (for fine levels, see below). Someone must be present at all times for Section 6 to apply. Most of the time squatters will put up a "Section 6" notice saying all of this (an example of one is in the Appendix). Putting one up does not make you immune from attack, but it will give you extra weight if you go to court about a forced eviction. You can say that you adequately warned your attackers that they were in breach of Section 6 of the CLA.
Many camps have created a physical boundary to define their area and asked that this be respected by the security guards. In a long term campaign you must follow up any illegal forced eviction or illegal entry onto your property, or the enemy will do it again. This will involve trying to persuade the police to prosecute (well, it is worth a try), or by giving information to the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) and magistrates and asking them to prosecute.
Section 12 of the CLA gives definitions of the terms used in the Act, including Section 6. This is especially relevant for squatting land. The DoT in Britain have disputed the fact that Section 6 applies to camps saying that the definition of "premises" given in Section 12 does not cover camps. If you read Section 12 it clearly says that premises means "any land ancillary to a building" and "any ancillary land thereto". It also defines buildings as "any structure other than a movable one, and any movable structure designed or adapted for use for residential purposes". Make sure that police, bailiffs and security know you will collect evidence of any breaches of Section 6, and will be prepared to argue this out in court.
Eviction proceedings and fighting it in
You may choose to fight the eviction through the courts. This may be as you have a genuine case, or it may be that you just want to delay the eviction and cost them more money. If you can delay them getting an Order in the courts you can sometimes really mess up their plans and schedules.
When you squat a piece of land or building you may wish to notify the owners by post or fax to remind them of Section 6 of the CLA, so they can instruct their agents and security guards to stay away. This has pros and cons. Give them the minimum info to avoid helping them draft their eviction papers. This will give you more evidence in court to prove you have been illegally evicted, and it may worry them into carrying things out correctly.
You will often know when they are making moves to evict you. They will probably come round to your camp (or squat) and serve you with a Notice to Quit. This will usually give you 48 hours to leave. After this time, they will come back and formally ask you to leave. They will probably film all this as proof. They will then apply to the courts to get you evicted. You will next receive a Summons to court. If they do not have any of your names the Summons will be against "Persons Unknown". It has to be served properly, in a sealed transparent wallet and affixed to your door or attached to posts hammered into the ground. See Appendix for an example of an eviction Summons.
You will have to decide if you then want to put any effort into contesting the eviction in court. At least one person will have to give them a name (real or false) to do so. This will, at the very least, make them work for their eviction. You can, if you put some thought and effort in, delay them for months. This was achieved in the case of Stanworth Valley along the route of the M65 in 1995. It took them several months to get their Possession Order, and valuable time was bought to build even more tree houses and make sure that those woods saw another Spring.
If you can get a lawyer to help you, then all the better. You may even be able to get Legal Aid and have them represent you, although this is rare and a lawyer will be limited in what (s)he can say. If you don't get representation, you will have to go and defend yourself in court. You may be able to get an adjournment. Grounds for an adjournment might be: need more time to prepare complicated case, court case to be held nearer to (poor) defendants, or technical irregularities in the proceedings. Defences could include: pending case in the European Courts, challenging their ownership of the land, if you had permission to be there, or you have been squatting there for more than 12 years. If the judge does not accept your defence, they will probably grant a Possession Order "forthwith" (at once). The Order can last for 12 years, if not used.
An appeal can buy you even more time. During anti-road protests, the DoT have never evicted whilst an appeal is pending. It really would not look good for them if, when the appeal came to court, they had to admit that they had already cleared the area. In the High Court, you can appeal to a Judge against the decision of a Master. You must do it within 5 working days of the decision. There is a fee of œ20 (if you have evidence of being on the dole they should waive you the fee). There is also a lot of paperwork to be typed and submitted. You will get a fresh hearing. Contact squatter groups (see Chapter xx) or a lawyer for advice.
In the County Court, you can appeal to a Judge about the decision of a District Judge, but not against the decision of a Recorder or an Assistant Recorder. You must do it within 14 days of the decision and there is, again, the œ20 fee. The Judge will review the decision, but you will not necessarily get a fresh hearing. You can go further and appeal to the Court of Appeal, but this has risks: huge court costs and making bad law.
If you lose, you will almost certainly have costs awarded against you. A lawyer would advise you against taking legal action because of this risk. In the past, however, they have never attempted to get costs back as they know we can't and won't pay.
The Possession Order enables a Warrant or Writ of Possession to be issued, instructing bailiffs or Sheriff's Officers. This usually takes at least a few days. If you are a named defendant, you can request in writing any documents in the court files relating to the enforcement of the Possession Order. Regularly doing this could give you a tip off about the timing of the eviction. If the court officials refuse to allow you to inspect the file, you should point out to them Order 63 Rule 4 in the High Court, and Order 50 Rule 10 in the County Court. For more on this under-used technique, see Basic Law for Road Protesters (Chapter xx).
You may be "privileged" enough for the Sheriff's deputy, the Undersheriff, to turn up at the eviction or it may be just their certified, sworn-in bailiffs. It will be their duty to ensure that the Writ or Warrant for Possession is enforced. They should have the Writ or Warrant when they come to do the eviction. Ask to see it (if you are not locked onto the roof or up the trees!) The Bailiffs are allowed to use reasonable force to remove you, and resisting them or the Sheriff is a criminal offence (see below).
Returning to land
If a piece of land or property has a Writ or Warrant of Possession on it and you return to it, you may get immediately evicted as they last for a year. They just have to obtain a Warrant of Restitution from the courts (without notifying you) and then come and evict you without warning. So if you intend to re-squat a piece of land be prepared for this and get out of reach!
Under the CJA (sections 75 - 76), a new, faster eviction process has been created, which only applies to buildings. It is very similar to the process described above except the owner can apply for an Interim Possession Order (IPO) before a full eviction hearing. If an IPO is granted, you commit a criminal offence if you remain there, or return, after 24 hours has elapsed. This new law is particularly unjust, as even if you have a good case for the actual hearing, you may be already out of your squat (and possibly arrested). They have to serve you with the Summons for the IPO hearing within 28 days of them knowing you are in occupation, not from when you moved in. You will be summonsed to court, often with very short notice. The Summons will have a blank affidavit attached which you must complete and return to be able to attend court. At the hearing, you are not allowed to speak unless the judge invites you to, or asks you a question. However they usually do. If the judge grants the order, the IPO can be served, usually within 48 hours. If you are still there within 24 hours, the police will do the eviction without bailiffs and can arrest you.
Also, under sections 61 - 62 of the CJA (the "travellers" sections), a senior policeman can instruct trespassers to leave if they have already been asked to leave by the owner of the land or their agent, and either the trespassers have "caused damage" to the land, or "used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour" towards the owner or agent. They can also make you leave if you have six or more vehicles on the land. The trespassers can be arrested if they refuse to leave and vehicles can be impounded.
This is only a very brief summary of laws surrounding squatting. If you plan to squat either land or buildings, get in touch with some of the excellent squatting organisations around (see Chapter 16).
Some Relevant Police Powers
The police often exceed their legal powers, relying on your ignorance of the law and their ability to intimidate. Their powers are set out in a series of Acts, most of it being in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (known as PACE). The following is a summary of some of their actual powers and is not exhaustive.
The police have extensive powers to stop and search people, vehicles and property, before arrest, in a public or private place and seize possessions. Generally speaking, the police may stop and search people and vehicles where they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that they maybe carrying firearms; drugs; stolen goods; articles for use in thefts, breaking into vehicles, burglaries etc. and offensive weapons, including sharply pointed articles. "Reasonable suspicion" must be based on fact, rather than stereotyping such as ethnic origin, dress, hairstyle etc. The police have guidelines advising them to "ensure that the powers are used responsibly and sparingly" (!).
Some of these search powers (e.g. for offensive weapons and stolen articles) can only be exercised in a public place. Others (e.g. for drugs) can be exercised anywhere. The police can detain you, without arresting you, long enough to carry out these searches. They are not allowed to make you undress further than your outer coat, jacket or gloves if the search is in public. If the police find something which they have reasonable grounds for believing is, for example, stolen, it can be seized.
There are supposed to be some safeguards before and after searches - e.g. the officer must, where practicable, give their name, police station and reason for search. The officer must also prepare a record of the search and you are entitled to a copy if you ask for it within 12 months of the search, though not necessarily there and then.
Quite separately, the police have powers to set up road blocks and / or stop pedestrians. If the police fear that violence is likely to take place in a certain area, they can make an order that anyone within a given distance of that area can be stopped and searched for offensive weapons, without any suspicion. If they have banned trespassory assemblies in a given area, they can turn back people en route to the assembly. The police can also set up road blocks, not only to check for terrorist devices, but also to look out for witnesses to, suspected of, or about to commit other serious offences.
The police can search properties, short of arrest, if they have obtained a search warrant from a Magistrates Court. The police can enter property, without a warrant, to arrest someone suspected of an arrestable offence, to save life or limb, or prevent serious damage to property. They can also enter property with the consent of the owner, or to prevent a Breach of the Peace (see below).
When they arrest someone, the police have much wider powers. For example, they can carry out strip searches and retain possessions found on you. They have additional powers to enter, search and seize possessions from property occupied or controlled by the person who has been arrested, to obtain evidence relating to the offence or some other connected arrestable offence.
The police have extra powers when it comes to road traffic. For example, they have the power to stop vehicles without suspicion. They can require the production (either there and then, or within a given amount of time) of licences, insurance documents etc. If you have any vehicles on the campaign you may get a lot of hassle. This was a tactic much used by the police during the Newbury campaign. Therefore, it is worth making sure that your vehicle is totally legal if it is going to be used in connection with the campaign.
It is an offence for a driver not to give their name, address and date of birth. It is also an offence (under Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988) for passengers not to tell police what they know about the identity of the driver of a vehicle, if certain serious driving offences under the same Act (eg. drunken, careless or dangerous driving) are alleged. These are important exceptions to the "right to silence". Otherwise, passengers are not obliged to give their names and addresses.
Legally, "driving" includes activities such as stopping to buy fuel, and locking the car before leaving. Once you have left the car, you do not have to give your name and address to the police, unless they believe that you have been involved in an accident, or have committed a driving offence.
It is worth remembering that if the police are not exercising any of these powers, you have no obligation to talk to them, give them your name or address, assist them, remain with them, volunteer to be searched, allow them onto your property, or give them anything which belongs to you. Having said this, you could be charged with the general offence of obstructing the police in the execution of their duty (see below) if you actually mislead or hinder them in any way. There are also specific offences for failing to comply with certain police powers. The police can use "reasonable force" to exercise their powers.
The official name of the offence is written first with its common name afterwards in brackets.
Section 68 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 ("Aggravated Trespass")- To have committed this you will have trespassed on land (not highways, footpaths or water), in the open air (i.e. not inside a building), and actually, or with a specific intention of, disrupting or obstructing or intimidating someone from going about their lawful activity. This, in practice, means breaking through, or attempting to break through, a security cordon to stop "lawful" tree felling, locking onto a machine, hunt sabotage, basically direct action in general! It does not need a warning. Max. sentence 3 months and / or a Level 4 fine (see below).
Section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 ("Section 69") - is the offence you commit when you refuse to obey the instruction of a cop to leave land which they believe you will commit aggravated trespass on. They must give you a warning for this and you will have to have ignored it, or returned within 3 months. Max. sentence 3 months and / or a Level 4 fine.
Criminal Trespass - Generally, if you are trespassing without disrupting anything, you are not committing a criminal offence. You are committing a civil wrong against the owner of the land and you cannot be arrested. However, there are a few instances when it becomes criminal, for instance, if you trespass on railway lines and restricted areas in docks and ports.
Section 10 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 ("Section 10 - Obstructing the Sheriff") - During evictions, this is the most likely offence you will be arrested for. You will have to have knowingly resisted or intentionally obstructed any person who is an officer of the court (i.e. sheriffs, bailiffs, professional climbers) engaged in executing or enforcing a Writ. Max. sentence 6 months and / or a Level 5 fine.
Breach of the Peace or Behaviour Likely to Cause a Breach of the Peace - This is not even a criminal offence, but a "civil wrong". It occurs when an act is done, or threatened to be done, which either actually harms, or is likely to harm, or puts someone in fear that it may harm, that other person or, in their presence, their property. It must be characterised by violence or the threat of violence. The violence can come from either the person committing the act, or the reaction of the other person to the behaviour of that person. However, in reality the police will arrest you for this if they don't like the look of you, or want to find out who you are. They may also detain you without arresting you to prevent a Breach of the Peace - for example, by physically restraining you, or shutting you in a van.
The power of arrest comes from the Breach of the Peace Act 1361(!). It has been retained as it is so useful to police and magistrates. It is just a "complaint" that the police make to magistrates about you, and ask them to uphold. So you don't even get a criminal record - you may just have a "complaint upheld" against you. They can arrest you for this immediately, and hold you in custody until they can take you to the magistrates. Because it is not a criminal offence, the PACE regulations do not apply, and they cannot impose bail conditions.
When they take you before the magistrates, they may try and do a "trial" there and then. Because it is not a criminal charge, they do not have to prove your guilt "beyond reasonable doubt", only on a "balance of probabilities". You must say that you want an opportunity to prepare for a proper "trial". They should grant you this and adjourn for another date. Again, they cannot set bail conditions. If the complaint is upheld, the only penalty the magistrates can give you is a bind-over (see below).
Section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 ("Criminal Damage") - This is an arrestable offence if you, without lawful excuse, destroy or damage (including minimal and temporary impairment of value or usefulness) any property belonging to another, intending to destroy it. For criminal damage costing less than œ2000, the case must be tried in a Magistrates Court, where the max. sentence is 3 months and/or a fine. If the cost of damage is above œ2000, it can be tried either by magistrates (max. sentence 6 months and/or fine), or in Crown Court (max. sentence 10 years and/or fine).
Section 241 of the Trade Unions and Labour Relations (Consolidated) Act 1992 ("Section 241") - This law was brought in by Thatcher against the unions, and usually refers to various forms of secondary picketing, but it is occasionally applied to road protesters. You commit the offence by doing certain things, with a view to compelling another person to abstain from doing something they have a legal right to do: use violence or intimidate someone and their family; or follow someone; or hide or deprive and hinder the use of tools, clothes and other property; or watch and beset the person; or follow the person with others through the streets in a disorderly manner. Max. sentence 6 months and / or a Level 5 fine.
Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 ("Obstructing the Highway") - To be guilty of this you must "wilfully and without lawful excuse" obstruct a highway. The highway is any public road, and can include a footpath. Lawfully you can only use a highway to get from A to B, and the police decide if is a "reasonable" obstruction. Max. sentence Level 3 fine.
Section 51 (sub section 3) of the Police Act 1964 ("obstructing the police") - this is usually a non-arrestable offence, but may become arrestable if a Breach of the Peace has occurred. If arrested for this, consider suing the police (contact the solicitors in Chapter xx). You commit the offence if you resist or wilfully obstruct a constable in the execution of his duty. This could mean ignoring the instructions of a policeman, deliberately misleading them, or stopping them from doing something - for example, de-arresting other protesters, giving false details or running away when arrested. Max. sentence 1 month prison and / or Level 3 fine.
Public Order Act 1986 lists a variety of offences which get progressively more serious. The CJA has changed and amended this Act slightly:
Section 5 ("disorderly conduct") - is the least serious and most regularly used. The ingredients are that you use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour; or disorderly behaviour; or display in writing, sign, or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm and distress. This is a catch-all charge which is quite difficult to defend against, as the police do not have to produce any witness who was upset. They just have to claim that your behaviour could have done so. Max. sentence Level 3 fine.
Section 4a ("disorderly words and conduct with intent") - is virtually the same as Section 5, except the police have to prove that you intended to cause someone harassment, alarm or distress. Max. sentence 6 months and / or Level 5 fine.
Section 4 ("causing the fear of or provoking violence") - This makes it an offence to use towards another person threatening, abusive words or behaviour; or distribute or display any writing, sign, or visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting with intent to cause that person to believe that immediate unlawful violence will be used. Max. sentence 6 months and / or Level 5 fine.
Section 3 ("affray") - This is committed if a person uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another, and their conduct is such as would cause a person of "reasonable firmness"(!) present at the scene to fear for their personal safety. It can be tried at Magistrates Court (max. sentence 6 months and / or fine) or Crown Court (max. sentence 3 years and / or fine).
Section 2 ("violent disorder") - This is committed where 3 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence, and the conduct of them (taken together) is such as would cause a person of "reasonable firmness" present at the scene to fear for their personal safety. Max. sentence at Magistrates Court 6 months and / or fine; in Crown Court, max. sentence 5 years and / or fine.
Section 1 ("riot") - an offence where 12 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose, and their conduct (taken together) is such as would cause a person of "reasonable firmness" present at the scene to fear for their personal safety. This charge is very rarely used and needs the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Max. sentence 10 years and / or fine.
There are various assault related offences, depending on who you assault and what injury you cause:
Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 ("common assault and battery") - is the least serious. Assault is any deliberate or reckless act which causes a person to fear immediate unlawful violence (i.e. no actual contact needed). Battery involves simply touching someone without their consent or other lawful authority. Max. sentence 6 months and / or Level 3 fine for both.
Section 51 (sub section 1) of the Police Act 1964 ("assault police") - committed if you assault a police officer or anyone assisting officer in execution of his duty. Max. sentence 6 months and / or Level 5 fine.
Section 38 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861("assault with intent to resist apprehension") - committed if you assault a cop when being arrested. Max. sentence 2 years.
Section 47 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 ("ABH") - assault occasioning actual bodily harm involves assault causing medically verified injuries. Max. sentence 5 years.
Sections 20 and 18 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 ("GBH") - two types, either simple grievous bodily harm (known as "unlawful wounding"). The skin needs to have been broken. Max. sentence 5 years. Or "GBH with intent" to cause serious harm. Max. sentence is life.
Bear in mind other offences such as theft and burglary (especially on offices actions) and going to equipped to commit criminal damage or to steal. Also, be aware of (a) conspiracy, (b) incitement, (c) aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring an offence and the principles of "joint enterprise" - all of which can make organisers, leaflet distributors and other people criminally responsible for the actions of others.
Levels of fines (as at 1996) are:
Level 1 - max. œ200
Level 2 - max. œ500
Level 3 - max. œ1000
Level 4 - max. œ2500
Level 5 - max. œ5000
Bear in mind that these amounts are legal maximum figures, and you are likely to actually be fined much less.
You'll be in very good company if you do get arrested, and will be joining a long line of people who have been arrested for their beliefs! However, getting arrested is not compulsory in a direct action campaign and in fact, often it can be quite advantageous to not get nicked as it can take you out of action and be draining. The experience of getting arrested can be different for everyone. It can be a really good laugh, extremely scary, empowering or isolating.
You can make it a whole lot better by knowing what to expect. In practice often the police give warnings before they arrest because they prefer to get you out of the way rather than go to the trouble of arresting you and taking you to the police station. However, with most offences it makes no legal difference if they do not warn you (exceptions Section 69 of the CJA, and Section 5 of the Public Order Act - see above). They can always say in their notebooks, and in court, that they warned you, even if they didn't.
If you are arrested, you should hear the words "I am arresting you for ... [they should say an actual offence here]. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence." It may come out as "You're nicked!" however. They do not have to say all of the full caution if the circumstances make it impracticable. You should be told what you have been arrested for (PACE, section 28, subsection 3). Call out to people to alert them to your arrest (you'll need witnesses) and ask them to give their names to Action Observers or to the campaign office. Ask the cop what you are being arrested for in front of witnesses.
You'll then be taken to a police van. You may have to wait a long while before being taken to the station as they try and fill up the van with others, or you may be whisked straight off. They will try and ask you loads of questions and may even get you to fill out forms. Tell them as little as possible - see below.
At The Police Station
When you arrive at the station you'll be led in, possibly in handcuffs, and taken to a desk where the custody/desk sergeant will "book you in". They will ask you loads of questions. Remember, you do not have to give them any information - in the sense that it is not an offence. However, it is advisable to give them your name and address as refusal will make getting bail more difficult later on. They will often get details off you from your possessions when you are searched. Usually people just give their name and address. The address that you give should be verifiable or they won't let you out. They may phone or call around at the address you give to check it. You could demand that they recognise your protest camp / treehouse as a proper and legitimate address.
They will try and get all sorts of other info from you, especially your date of birth. The police national computer lists everyone by date of birth, so if they have yours, you'll be very easy for them to trace. You will have to decide whether you want to give them it or not. You could just politely state that you are not legally required to give it, but this could result in a slightly longer detention.
After this you will be "read your rights". You are entitled to see a solicitor, have someone informed of your arrest and consult a copy of the PACE Codes of Practice. If you don't decide to do any of these things immediately you can change your mind later. However, you may have trouble getting the police's attention later on, as the buzzers in the cells are often ignored.
Tell the police (and have it recorded on your custody record) that you give them full permission to disclose any information about your arrest to anyone who rings up from the campaign, enquiring about you. The police have been very unco-operative in the past and have refused to let people outside know what is happening to arrested people, using the excuse that they are protecting the prisoner's "privacy".
Searches and possessions
The custody sergeant decides what possessions you can keep and what should be taken from you. The sergeant can authorise a search, including a strip search if deemed necessary. So, do not carry things on actions that could get you into trouble, ie. drugs or knives or sabotage tools. They can also search you for anything which could cause injury, damage property, interfere with evidence or assist in escape - e.g. shoelaces, belts, lighters and matches. It is only on these grounds, or on the grounds that they might constitute evidence, that the custody sergeant can retain clothes or personal effects. Anything taken off you should be meticulously listed and put into a sealed bag in your presence. You will then be asked to sign the list to say it is correct. Check it and sign immediately under the last item so they cannot add anything. Don't sign at all if anything on the list is incriminating.
Any search (except by a doctor) must be carried out by someone of your sex. More intimate searches (of body orifices) can only be carried out where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that you have a Class A drug or have something concealed which might cause injury.
What happens next
They will then put you in a cell. This is the boring bit. You will just have to sit it out until they decide what to do with you. You can catch up on sleep, read, do some stretching / meditation, or ask to have a shower. Be aware that you may be overheard in the cell. You could create your own entertainment! When large numbers have been arrested, it has been quite a laugh with people singing and making music in the cells.
You can ask for a solicitor at any point during your custody. The police must take reasonable steps to get them there as soon as possible or at least get them on the telephone. You should be able to speak to them in private. If you are unsure of anything, get to speak to a solicitor. All legal advice in the police station is free whatever your financial position. You'll also be allowed to let someone know that you have been arrested. Hopefully you'll get to do it yourself, but you may just have to nominate someone and the police will do it for you.
They should only hold you while they obtain evidence, and work out if they have enough to charge you. Much depends on how serious or complicated the allegations are. In straightforward cases, this could take just a couple of hours, but if they have to take statements and do interviews it could take longer... In practice, they usually hold you far longer than necessary (see below for how to sue).
If they hold you for a long time, they should hold reviews of your detention (called custody reviews) as set out in PACE. These should happen 6 hours after your original arrest and then every 9 hours after that. You should be present at the review - or at the very least your solicitor should be. Make sure that they know that you want to be present.
They may decide to interview you in an attempt to get more evidence. If this happens, have your solicitor present. Remember that you are NOT obliged to say anything and that you DO still have the right to silence. The only change since the CJA in 1994 is that if you do not mention a fact, that you later rely on at trial, in your interview the court can draw "adverse inferences" from this. Decide what is best for you to do, after talking to your solicitor and co-arrestees, if possible. Be very careful that you do not drop other people in it by what you say. Our advice is that it is nearly always best to do a "no comment" interview. The interview is designed to help the police and not you.
When you go into the interview room, you'll sit at a desk with one or more cops, your solicitor and it'll all be taped. At the beginning of the interview, it may be a good idea to say on tape something like "I am not prepared to speak now under police interrogation, but I am prepared to defend myself in a court of law". Some people have suggested invalidating the interview procedure by saying "Okay! OKAY! I'll say anything, just don't hit me anymore"!
Fingerprints, photographs and DNA samples
They may also decide to fingerprint, photograph, and take DNA samples from you. They are only empowered to do this before you have been charged if you have committed a serious offence. You can refuse to give your consent to fingerprints, but they may use "minimum reasonable force" to get them. Once they have your prints, they can always tell who you are if they arrest you again and it is difficult to get away with giving a false name. Although it takes a few weeks for the prints to get to their central computer, it can tell who you are very quickly if your prints are on it already.
They may try to photograph you. You do not have to give your consent and they are not allowed to use "minimum reasonable force" to get this. They may ask you to sit in a chair and hold a blackboard below your face with your name on it (like in the films!). If you refuse, they may try and take it sneakily.
The CJA has introduced significant new police powers to accumulate and use DNA intelligence. The police now have express powers to set up a DNA database and to seize DNA from suspects. DNA can come from a number of sources. Firstly there are "intimate samples" such as blood, semen, tissue fluid, urine, pubic hair, and swabs from orifices. Secondly, there are "non-intimate samples" such as hair samples (other than pubic hair), scrapings from under a nail, swabs taken from parts of the body other than orifices, foot or hand impressions, and saliva.
The rules on the police's powers depends on which type of sample they are dealing with, whether a suspect has been charged, and how serious the charge is. With protesters on minor charges, this is unusual, and if they do it, they'll either pluck hair, or take saliva swabs from inside the mouth, after charge. They can do this, using reasonable force, for "recordable" offences, i.e. most of them.
Injuries and Doctors
If you are physically injured in any way immediately before or during arrest, or whilst in custody (handcuff and pressure point injuries etc.) you can ask to see a doctor. Every police station has one and they should ask if you want to see them when they book you in. Their doctors have often been (unsurprisingly) unsympathetic or uncooperative. They will record what they diagnosed and how they treated it. If policemen have caused your injuries, they will have access to the doctor's notes, and will be able to fit their story to account for the injuries. Therefore, it may be wiser to go to a hospital or independent doctor instead, immediately after release for a proper report (especially if you plan to sue).
This is a bizarre form that the police may try and get you to fill in at the police station. They will say that this is just for the benefit of the court to help them assess you and your position - don't believe a word of it! Since when have the courts needed to know whether you have any tattoos? They will pressure you into filling it out or may just ask you verbally. This form will have all sorts of questions on it, including your schooling, employment history, parents, health, body markings, eye colour etc. You do not have to answer any of the questions, so don't! Anything you do say will go straight onto the police national computer.
Arrested people under 17 are classed as "juvenile", and there are slightly different procedures. The main one is that the person responsible for them should be informed about what is happening, and that nothing should happen to them at the police station in the absence of an "appropriate adult" (parent, guardian, social worker).
There are several things that the police can finally decide to do with you. They may release you without charge and that'll be the end of the case against you. They often arrest, detain and release without charge to clear demos or they may not have enough evidence. Get in touch with a good lawyer to sue (see below).
Cautions may be offered by the police for minor offences to people who have a minimal criminal record. The police do this to avoid the hassle, expense and paperwork of going to court. Accepting the caution means admitting the offence, and getting it finished there and then. It is not a criminal conviction but will stay on your record for three years, and may be taken into account if you get arrested again. It may be pragmatic to accept one, but it is a convenient way for the police to settle their dubious arrests and may make it harder to sue them later on. Think carefully and talk to a solicitor before accepting.
If the police want to take the matter further they may release you on some sort of bail. Bail is when you are released with an obligation to return to the police station or to a court. Failure to return is a criminal offence under the Bail Act. It would be harder to get bail for the original charge and you would have a record of failing to answer bail. This may prejudice bail applications in future.
If they need more evidence, they might release you on bail to re-appear at the police station at a later date, where they may discontinue proceedings or decide to charge you. Being charged means that you are formally accused of the offence. A policeman will read out the charge against you and ask for your reply. You do not have to say anything. Once charged you will either be bailed to appear at the Magistrates Court, or will be held until the next sitting of the Magistrates Court and taken before them. If the magistrates are not convinced you'll turn up at court, or believe you'll commit further offences on bail, or will interfere with witnesses, they can remand you in prison until your next court case. You are less likely to get bail if the charge is very serious.
Unless you're remanded, the police should return all your possessions. You should get a receipt for anything they keep as evidence. Once you are out, please phone the person you informed that you had been arrested, to let them know.
The police and magistrates have the power to impose conditions on your bail. These conditions are usually to stay away from the site of the protest (e.g. a 1 km or so exclusion zone), or not to disrupt any work. Sometimes they impose a condition of residence on you - you are forced to stay at a designated address - and they may even make you sign at a police station daily or weekly to prove you are staying at an address. Unless successfully challenged at the courts, these conditions will stay until you finally go to trial, which could be several months. Bail conditions are often strategically designed to remove you from on-the-ground action.
There are several reasons why the police impose conditions. The usual ones are to stop you re- offending whilst awaiting trial, to prevent you causing further damage to property / injury to self or someone else, and to make sure that you attend court. They should not put conditions on you if their only aim is to "inconvenience" you. You will have to sign the form giving your consent to the conditions to enable you to leave the police station. If you refuse to accept conditions, you will be taken before the magistrates at the earliest available opportunity, to ask for them to set the bail conditions. This could mean an overnight stay. In court, you will be able to argue why the conditions are unfair.
If you break these bail conditions you can be arrested or summonsed to court. The police will need to have evidence of you breaking your conditions so avoid having your photo taken. The magistrates will then decide what to do with you. They may impose harder bail conditions - bailed to live several 100 miles away for example. Or they may refuse bail, and remand you in prison or a remand centre until your trial. The only advantage is that your trial may be brought forward, dealt with quickly, and so you'll be free to protest again. If you're remanded in custody and want to apply for bail, you appeal to the Crown Court and then to the High Court. It is worth remembering that it is not a criminal offence to break your bail conditions - it just makes getting bail again for that offence more difficult if you are caught. It is however a separate criminal offence (under the Bail Act) not to turn up at court to face criminal charges.
Strategy against Bail Conditions
Bail conditions are one of the police's main weapons against activists in sustained campaigns. Anyone arrested is put out of action or risks being remanded. Any campaign which seeks to last a long time will have to think before action starts about how it will deal with bail conditions, and develop a strategy.
If given bail conditions by the police, you might get them varied by going to see a different custody sergeant at the same station, or by applying to magistrates. To appeal against bail conditions imposed by magistrates, you go to the High Court. Bail conditions were challenged during the M11 protests, when a judge agreed that the conditions were draconian, and lifted them - freeing everyone to protest again. However, at Newbury in 1996, one man who appealed his conditions in the High Court walked away with harsher ones! So this option can be a bit of a gamble.
Challenging bail conditions with civil disobedience is more risky, demands a lot of thought and lots of people to take part in it, remaining determined and united. You can go all out and make it clear to the magistrates that you will break any conditions imposed on you, and will carry on protesting until they put you in prison. Make it clear that this will be what everyone does. They may realise that it is not worth their while. This worked at Twyford Down in 1993, backed up with a hunger strike. People at Newbury in 1996 refused bail conditions banning them from within 1 km of the route and went on hunger strike on remand, in prison. When it came to the Appeal in court, the conditions were slightly eased. They were allowed to continue living at the camps on route, but were barred from interfering with work.
These strategies were not completely effective as they included only a few isolated, brave individuals, not a concerted effort. If hundreds of people insisted on being taken to court over their bail conditions and then were prepared to go on remand, their prison system might start to clog up. This would need preparing and talking about before arrests start however. Another strategy would be for everyone to accept them and then persistently break them, as if they did not exist. The police would have trouble arresting everyone. The danger with this is that they may simply film you, get the evidence and then arrest you at another time, when you are isolated.
Support At The Police Station For Those Nicked
There are things that people outside can do to help arrested people, for instance, making sure that anyone who has witnessed the arrest writes a witness statement, or at the very least leaves their contact details - especially if they are a photographer or video user. They can inform the campaign solicitors who can push for their release. How much contact you have with an arrested person depends on how friendly the desk sergeant is. You should be able to get books, letters (the police will read them), food and tobacco in. If you ask really nicely, you may even be allowed a visit.
If the police have filled the cells in one station, or just want to be difficult, they may take the arrested person off to a distant police station. When the arrested person is released, the police are under no obligation to transport them back to where they were arrested. People should try and have a bit of money on them when they go into action for this very reason. However, this cannot be left to chance and the campaign should try and pick people up. This is a good, and very essential, role for people with vehicles (see "Driver Lists" in chapter 8).
If someone has been unjustly or violently arrested, or the police behaviour has become particularly bad, you may consider having demos at, or occupations of, the police station. The police hate this and usually react very forcefully. It is a very strong statement however, and can be a good way to get the issue of police brutality or non-impartiality out. If you are being held in the cells and you hear chants and drums outside, it can really lift your spirits.
Preparing For Trial
If the campaign has a supportive and organised attitude to legal matters, then preparation for trial and evidence gathering should be very easy. The names of witnesses or their statements should have been gathered at the time of the arrest and there should be a range of sympathetic solicitors for people to use. Anyone arrested will hopefully have written their own statement immediately after their arrest. In the same way that the police can refer to their notebooks when giving evidence, you and your witnesses can refer to any statement you made at the time of the incident, or as soon as practicable afterwards, as long as you haven't collaborated. This is useful, as it gives your evidence more credibility and also means that you don't forget things.
To represent yourself or not?
You may already have instructed a solicitor and signed Legal Aid forms at the police station. But don't assume that just because you got some advice from a solicitor at the station that they are now representing you, and will take care of everything. If you want them to represent you, which is especially worthwhile for more serious charges, you'll have to formally instruct them. Contact them as soon as you get out. The solicitor should apply for Legal Aid as soon as possible, if you are eligible.
You may decide to represent yourself. Increasingly more and more people are doing this, especially for political trials. There are many things that a barrister or solicitor just cannot do and say, and this can be very frustrating for a defendant. Many people won't be eligible for Legal Aid, but cannot afford to, or do not wish to, spend money on a solicitor. Also, there is a tendency for courts to refuse legal aid to political activists, so you may be forced to represent yourself, or at the very least, do a lot of the preparation of your case. For an excellent (and inspiring) guide to defending yourself read How to defend yourself in court (see Chapter xx).
Evidence and Disclosure
If you have instructed a solicitor, you should have a meeting with them to discuss your case. Your solicitor should send off for "advance disclosure" which is a dossier of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) case against you (the CPS take over the case from the police). This will include all the prosecution witness statements. If the police have a video of you being arrested and want to show it in court, then you are entitled to see it. You should either be sent a copy, or go and see it at the police station. If you are representing yourself then you should do all this yourself. It is a matter of dispute if there should be "advance disclosure" for cases which can only be tried in the Magistrates Court, so you may face an obstinate CPS.
You will need to do your own evidence gathering too. If you are being represented, then your solicitor should do all this under your instruction. Make sure they do it thoroughly. Give the solicitor the addresses of any witnesses so they should contact them to interview and prepare them for the trial. Find any videos and photos which may help your case. If there were Action Observers (chapter 8) present, contact them. Tell your solicitor about anything helpful - like whether footpaths were officially closed - so they can research this. If you want to use any photographic or video evidence, see Filming on Actions in chapter 10.
Going to court
If you are bailed or summonsed to court, your first appearance is known as the "plea hearing". Here you will enter your plea - guilty or not-guilty. If you plead guilty, they may sentence you immediately. If you plead not-guilty, a date will be set for the next court hearing (the pre-trial review). If you are in any doubt, plead not-guilty as you can always change it later. It is more difficult to change a guilty plea to not-guilty. If you plead guilty you get a lesser sentence (and have to pay less prosecution costs) than if you plead not guilty and are convicted - and you get more credit the earlier you plead guilty!
There will also be an opportunity for you to challenge any bail conditions. Prepare this before you go in, and present a convincing case as to why you should not have bail conditions.
If you have never been to court before, it may be worth popping in before your trial to listen in and get a feel for what goes on. There is always a Public Gallery in Magistrates Courts (usually just a row of chairs along a wall) and you are perfectly entitled to sit in. It will make you more confident about your case.
The courts are designed to intimidate people who get sent there. The magistrates are generally well-to-do-people from the local establishment, who have probably been recruited at dinner parties. They usually have a patronising attitude that they are teaching the underclass how to behave. They have had no legal training, and will have a Clerk (usually an ex-barrister or solicitor) to advise them on the law. There are usually three magistrates. You may, however, especially for cases which contain a lot of technical legal argument, get a Stipendary Magistrate (often known as a "Stipe"). These are ex-barristers or solicitors with extensive legal knowledge. They sit by themselves with the Clerk.
Magistrates will sit up on a platform, which is designed to make you feel small. You will be in a defendant's box, and your solicitor (if you have one) sits at a bench at the front on the left, with the CPS lawyer on the right. You should ask to sit with your solicitor. Magistrates and the CPS will use weird language and talk to you as if you know everything about the legal system, to baffle and confuse you. Everyone in the court will have to stand up when the magistrates enter, or face Contempt of Court proceedings. That is all part of their "superiority". The best advice we can give is not to be intimidated by it. The whole thing is an elaborate farce, and the magistrates are just players in it.
After the plea, the next visit to the courts will be your pre-trial review. This is when you, and the CPS, go through all the evidence, from each side, discuss any disputes, and list what witnesses to call. The intention of this is to streamline the trial and save time and expense. You should not have to go to this if you are represented, but check first with your solicitor. You may want to go to it anyway.
At the magistrates court a solicitor can advocate (speak), but most cannot at a Crown Court, and have to instruct a barrister. Your solicitor may instruct a barrister for your magistrates court case especially if they are overloaded with cases. Barristers are usually more eloquent, but won't have an in-depth knowledge of your case. Ask your solicitor for a "Conference" (meeting) with your barrister before the case so you can brief them on what you want them to say. For cases in the Magistrates court, Legal Aid won't cover a conference, and you'll be lucky to get one.
The CPS may try and do a deal with you. They may offer to drop a serious charge in return for you pleading guilty to a lesser one. This is Plea Bargaining. They usually do it just before a court case, or on the actual day of the trial. Minor charges may be dropped in return for you accepting a bind- over (this is not a criminal conviction - see below). They often do this to people worried by facing serious charges. Plea bargains may be offered if they are not confident on their chances of getting a conviction, and / or they want to avoid expensive court cases. However, it can make your life a whole lot easier, so make your own decisions.
Formal trials are daunting, but the procedure is quite simple. Firstly, the prosecution gives a brief outline of their case, and the circumstances of your arrest. They then call their witnesses (usually the arresting officer and a few others), and examine them, by asking them questions about their evidence, under oath. After the prosecution has finished, your solicitor (or you, if you represent yourself) will get the chance to cross-examine them. This is your chance to discredit the witnesses and their evidence against you. The prosecution then get a chance to re-examine.
After this, you or your solicitor could argue that there is no case to answer, and invite the magistrates to throw the case out. If this is not accepted, you will then have the opportunity to go into the witness box and either give your case, or be examined by your solicitor. You don't have to do this, but the magistrates may draw inferences if you don't. You will be asked to make an oath on the bible (or other holy book), or make a non-religious affirmation to tell the truth. Afterwards the prosecution can cross-examine you. You can then be re-examined by your solicitor or make a further representation yourself. Keep calm and just reiterate the facts. Your witnesses are then called, one by one, to be examined by you, then cross-examined by the prosecution, and then re- examined by your side. Witnesses have to sit outside until called.
After this, your side sums up your case to the magistrates in a closing speech. Then the magistrates will probably adjourn, returning to give the verdict. If you win, you can apply for your costs (travel, witness costs, accommodation etc.).
Sentencing And Penalties
Most of the things activists get arrested for are pretty minor. You are extremely unlikely to go to prison for a first (and second and third) offence, unless you do something serious. You are most likely to get a small fine, and / or a bind-over and / or a conditional discharge and / or costs of the trial. The smaller your criminal record the lighter the penalty. With all offences, there is a maximum penalty set in place. This gives an indication of how serious the offence is, not what you are likely to get.
If you are found guilty, the magistrate will probably sentence you immediately. Have your mitigation prepared. Give a brief outline of your financial circumstances, and why the sentence should be lenient.
Absolute Discharges: This means that you still have a conviction but no separate penalty.
Bind-overs: These are usually offered to people arrested for Breach of the Peace. Magistrates also dole them out as a light punishment for other offences. A Binding-Over Order is an ancient power given to magistrates and has been left over from the Middle Ages. It is basically a promise that you make that you "will be of good behaviour and will keep the Queen's Peace". This really means that you promise not get arrested during a set time (usually 6 or 12 months). If you do, and get convicted, you will forfeit a sum of money (usually around œ100), although they quite often don't notice when you break bind-overs. A bind-over stays on your record but is not itself a criminal conviction. If you refuse to accept a bind-over, magistrates have the power to send you to prison for up to 6 months! However, you can agree to accept it at any time and get out of jail.
Fines: If you are fined, expect anything from œ30 to œ300. Costs are usually around œ30 to œ100 per day in court. It varies massively around the country, and between magistrates. If you are on the dole or a low income, they may demand that you pay about œ5 a week. See below for info on not paying fines.
Conditional Discharges: Magistrates are quite fond of these. If you are given one it means that if you get arrested again within a given time (usually 6 months to 2 years), and are subsequently convicted, you may be re-sentenced for the original offence.
Community Service and Custodial Sentences (Prison): If magistrates or a judge are considering a Community Service Order or a custodial sentence (sending you to prison), you should have your case adjourned for a few weeks, for probation officers to prepare a Pre-Sentence Report. They can remand you in custody during this time. You will be interviewed by the Probation Service as to how much you regret your "crime", and they will prepare the report for the judge.
Community Service means that you will be ordered to do certain tasks for the community for a set time (20 to 240 hours). You have to consent to the order, which is supervised by the Probation Service. If you don't do it, you go back to court, and will probably get more hours added, or be sent to prison. There are usually some "environmental" and outdoors jobs which you could ask to do. You may meet some interesting people whilst doing it, although it is not so good for women as the work teams are usually all men.
Going to prison is a big psychological step. There is a separate section on prison below as it is a major topic. More protesters will probably be going to prison as things get more and more repressive.
If you feel that your conviction and / or sentence are unjust, you can appeal. The only problem with appealing your sentence is that the judge hearing the appeal can actually increase it and award costs against you. You only get 21 days from the date of sentence (not conviction) to lodge your appeal, so you should speak to a solicitor as soon as possible. You have an automatic right of appeal from Magistrates Court to the Crown Court. The rules on Crown Court convictions are different. From the Magistrates Court, a re-trial will take place at the Crown Court (witnesses will be called again). If you just want to appeal a point of law, you would appeal "by way of case stated" direct to the Divisional Court.
Not Paying Fines
Many people decide that part of their protest is not to pay their fines. There are several things that can happen if you refuse. They may send the bailiffs round; they may attempt to get an Order at a higher court to deduct money from your dole money / bank account / wages; or they may send you to prison for a few days.
If you don't keep up with payments, you will eventually be summonsed back to court. There, it is up to the magistrate what they do to you, depending on what you say. If you say that you can't pay as the fine and payment rate are too high, then they may give you another chance, and set the fine again at a lower rate of payment. If, on the other hand, you say that you won't pay, then they will probably send you to prison for "wilful" non-payment. If you do not answer the summons to court, you will have a warrant issued for your arrest. When arrested, you will probably be sent to prison unless you pay the whole amount. Don't take money into court with you as they can take it off you.
The magistrates can do other things. They can hand the debt over to a firm of bailiffs, whose responsibility it is to collect the debt. You will be notified that this has happened. The court order is called a "distress warrant". You will receive threatening letters from the bailiffs, saying that they will call around at your property within the next few days, unless you contact them to arrange payment. This may be all that happens, as they hope to intimidate you into paying.
If bailiffs do call at your home, they cannot force entry. They can enter through open doors or windows, including upstairs ones via a ladder. They can push past you if you open the door, and are good at talking their way in. They may ask to just use the phone; don't let them. Once they're in, you are very compromised. They can take anything and force entry on subsequent visits. If they take property which does not belong to you, then you have to go to court and prove that it belongs to someone else. Speak to a solicitor, a Citizens Advice Bureau, or the Chesterfield Law Centre (see Chapter xx) for further information on bailiff powers.
If magistrates get an order to take money from your dole, it is taken at source (the dole office), and you cannot do anything about it. Apparently this takes a long time to sort out and they can only take a few pounds at a time. The situation is probably similar for wages or bank accounts, but we're not sure. Do not give magistrates any information about your bank account or earnings.
If you refuse to pay and they can't get any money out of you, you will go to prison. If you are prepared for prison this can often seem the best option. Currently, if your fine, plus court costs, total less than œ200 you will be sentenced to 7 days. If your fine and costs total above œ200 then you should get 14 days. You would only serve half of your sentence - see below.
It is likely that some people in your campaign may end up in prison. Although most of the things that protesters get arrested for carry quite small penalties, if you refuse to pay fines, or refuse to accept their patronising bind-overs and outrageous bail conditions, or break injunctions, you will probably end up in prison.
Quite often people will expect to go to prison and be prepared. However, it can occasionally be a complete surprise for some people who have accumulated lots of charges, or are falsely accused of serious things, or if they get a harsh sentence from a particularly vile magistrate. Whatever, when people go to prison they need support.
Some people cope very well in prison and learn a lot from it. Others hate the experience and take a long time to recover. This depends on individual experiences inside. Take time to prepare yourself, think about what prison will mean, and how you will psychologically cope.
Not everyone ends up in prison, but it is worth knowing something about it, as the fear of the unknown is one of its most intimidating aspects. There is a long history of civil disobedience throughout the world. In Britain at the moment the penalties are pretty minor. If you take nonviolent direct action in many places you "disappear". While we have the opportunity to take action, we should do all we can. Prison is just about the British State's hardest legal sanction; by overcoming fear of it, you can be truly free.
There is a lot of information to include in this section. We cannot go into all the detail here, but there are some excellent organisations set up to help people inside (see Chapter 16). There are many different types of prison (men's, women's, young offenders', remand centres, open, secure etc). We include just basic information which should be relevant to most prisons.
Before the court case:
If you think there is a possibility of being sent to jail, don't hope for the best and go unprepared - pack before you go, just in case. Warn people in the campaign that you might be imprisoned, so they aren't shocked and can help you prepare. Make sure at least one person comes to court with you.
Arrange to have one person (a close friend or relative, perhaps, or someone in the campaign) who can act as your central point of contact whilst you are inside. They will need to be reliable and easy to get hold of. Messages and information can be passed via them, so info doesn't go astray. One person arranging visits will avoid double-booking.
When you go down you won't get time to do anything (sometimes you can't even say good-bye - you will just be taken away) so really do have everything arranged.
Things to pack
· Take some good books.
· In women's prisons, there are no uniforms, so pack your own clothes. They will give you clothes if you do not have any. In men's prisons there are uniforms, except for most remand prisoners.
· Definitely take a small amount of money in with you, so that you can buy a phonecard.
· Take addresses of friends and relatives to write to, but be aware that prison staff may study your address book.
· You won't be allowed to keep food, toiletries or lighters.
· If you smoke, take loads of tobacco and matches in with you. Fags and matches are "hard currency" inside.
You will probably be taken from the court and held in the court cells. Everyone destined for prison will be loaded up, usually at the end of the day, in a minibus or a crate van. These vans are a cross between a portaloo (without the loo) and a chicken battery cage. You'll then be taken, possibly via other courts, to prison. When you arrive, you may be put into a room with other "cons" and booked in one at a time. When you are booked in they may take valuables like credit cards, railcards and jewellery. If you are a convicted male prisoner, your clothes will be taken, and you'll be given a uniform. Anything taken from you should be kept safe until your release. The details of booking-in procedure varies between prisons.
Make sure they know your dietary, health and religious requirements as soon as you get in. Vegetarian food is usually available, but tell them if you are vegan (you may need a Vegan Society membership card) as they will have to prepare special food. Meals will be eaten in your cell or in a dining room.
They should give you a "Prisoners Information Book" when you get in. It contains most things you need to know about your rights and entitlements as a prisoner. You could send off for it in advance (see Chapter 17) to help prepare for prison.
You will be examined by a doctor on arrival, who will ask you (amongst other things) whether you are depressed or suicidal. They do it to everyone. In women's prisons, the doctor often encourages you to take tranquillisers. Most of the women are on medication to "cope", but consequently get screwed-up and become dependent. Some women may ask you to get some drugs off the doctor to pass on to them. You will have to make your own decision but it's best not to get involved, as it could lead to a nightmare for you both.
You will probably be sharing a cell with other people. This is the interesting part! You can learn a lot, and many prisoners will be keen to talk, although others may want to keep themselves to themselves. Be aware that asking people what they are in for, and how long they've got, may piss them off. Inmates may be quite interested in you, as "political prisoners" are quite novel. You are unlikely to find trouble unless you go looking for it. Stereotypes such as buggery in the showers for "new boys", or constant brutal bullying, are unjustified. However, be prepared to see things like mental instability, depression, pornography, drug abuse and aggression. If you have any problems, then try and get moved. Ask for a single cell and get your name on a waiting list. You may be moved around for no apparent reason whatsoever. Most cells have a flush toilet and washbasin. In older men's prisons the toilet may be replaced by a bucket; Try to ensure you only pee in these, and crap in the main toilets, or you will become unpopular with cell mate(s)!
Once a week you will get "canteen". This is when you can go down to the prison shop and buy all the things that you need - phonecards, stamps, paper, pens, tobacco, matches, shampoo, snacks, etc. You will be given a few pounds "wages" a week, and this will be the only opportunity that you get to spend it. If you get a job (eg. cleaning, cooking, serving food) you will get more to spend. There may be a limit on how much you can spend each week.
Every day you should get a chance to "exercise". This may be the only chance you get to go outside, as you can sometimes be locked in your cell for up to 24 hours a day. The exercise yard is also a good place to meet other prisoners. "Association" is when you can mix with other prisoners on your wing for a few hours and play pool, watch TV, have a shower, etc.
Visiting rules vary for civil, remand and convicted prisoners, and between prisons. You are usually allowed 3 - 4 visitors at a time. Civil and remand prisoners are entitled to a visit most days. You'll be given Visiting Orders (VOs) which are like vouchers to send off to your contact person. All visitors are searched as they go in.
Prison staff ("screws") may be quite approachable, but can be megalomaniacs, and like shouting. Be aware that they serve the State and don't give anything away to them. Being polite and friendly may make your stay easier. There are lots of rules in prison that you may not find out until you've broken them. Ask other prisoners if you are unsure. The one thing you can be pretty sure of is a camaraderie amongst "cons" against the "screws". To do lots of things, you'll have to put in an "App" (an Application Form to the Governor). People cannot send you in a radio or batteries for example, if you haven't put in an App.
Don't dwell on the fact that you're locked up and you'll do OK. Get busy! Read those books that you've been dying to read for ages, write letters, get in touch with old friends, get to know your cell mates better, and learn how to rob a bank! Take every opportunity to get out of your cell (eg. gym, library, chapel, classes). Prison can be quite interesting. Getting angry and bitter will just set you on an awful slope of depression and bottomless anger. Just forget about the doors and adapt. Save yourself, your anger and your energy for when you get back outside.
Nearly all criminal sentences are automatically halved if you have been good. Also, they don't release people at the weekend, so you will be out on Friday morning if your release date falls on a Saturday or Sunday. On release they should give you a "travel warrant" which is a free train ride to the address you gave when you arrived. If you have been in for over two weeks, you should also get a discharge grant of about œ90 on release (unless you're in for not paying fines).
It is vital that a movement supports its prisoners. Prison is designed to isolate, and can be brutal, traumatic and damaging. Even if someone has an OK time inside, it is important that they are not forgotten, and that their stand is recognised.
Find out what the prisoner wants beforehand, especially regarding publicity. Prepare a list of who they want informed. Some people may prefer to be less conspicuous in prison. If you get loads of mail, and others in your cell don't get any, it may cause resentment.<P.IF Send beautiful cards and pictures which will cheer them up. Best of all, make your own. Enclosing a book of stamps is really helpful. Ask the prison if you can send money to the prisoner. If you send something, mention it in your letter, so that the prisoner will know if it gets pinched.
Keep letters cheerful and chatty - let them know what's going on outside and what actions have been happening. Be aware, however, that the prison authorities read everything, so avoid anything compromising. Fan mail which states "I think you are so brave - I could never do what you did" may make the prisoner feel that their actions have disempowered, rather than inspired, others. Letters offering loads of useful advice are also quite annoying! Enclose photos of beautiful places - one of the hardest things is staring at blank walls. If the prisoner has pictures to look at,they can imagine they are there.
Injunctions against activists are designed to stop you from taking action. In the context of anti-road protests, injunctions are brought by the land / property owner - usually the DoT and contractors - to stop you trespassing, causing "nuisance", or interfering with goods (i.e. vehicles, equipment etc.). This will be part of an on-going suing case for damages.
If your long-term campaign is having an effect on the roadbuilders then expect an injunction. In the British anti-roads movement they have been used at Twyford Down, Jesmond Dene, the M11 and Newbury. They are also used by the Ministry of Defence against anti-military campaigners. If anyone starts injunction proceedings against you, seek good legal advice immediately.
The plaintiff (eg. DoT) will apply for an interim interlocutory (ie. temporary) injunction until a proper hearing for damages is arranged - this is usually granted. In order to gain this injunction the plaintiff must present a judge with clear evidence of you trespassing and / or causing a nuisance. They don't actually need your real name - photos and a nickname can be enough. The area from which you are injuncted should be clearly defined. For instance, the Twyford injunction did not prevent individuals from lawfully using footpaths and highways. The terms of any injunction will be defined by what the plaintiff requests and what the judge grants. The judge can refuse the application altogether.
The next step is to go on to a trial for full injunction and / or damages. The DoT have so far not got damages from anyone injuncted, and seldom take it to a full trial. Once they have got what they wanted (you banned) they usually terminate the action. However, the threat of damages and costs is used to drive a wedge between those with assets to lose, and those without. Bear in mind that costs in civil cases are greater than in criminal cases.
Injunctions against "persons unknown" have been overturned at appeal. Injunctions against membership organisations can be combated by not appearing on a demo or action as a member of that organisation.
If you fight an injunction in court it can cost the DoT more time and money. However, it will also take up your time and energy. If you're lucky, a good barrister may delay the injunctionÍs progress through the court. However, it is quite difficult to get (and keep) Legal Aid to fight injunctions, although it is easier if they are asking for damages. If the injunction is granted it is possible that defendants will be liable for court costs. If you don't turn up to court, they will almost certainly grant the injunction in your absence ("Ex Parte").
To validate an injunction against you, it must be properly served. This generally means posting it to your address, or handing it to you in person.
If you breach an injunction, you can face a fine, a suspended prison sentence, or up to two years imprisonment for Contempt of Court. This is a civil, not criminal, offence and so the police can't arrest you for it. Instead, you will be served a summons to court for committal proceedings. If you fail to turn up to this, an arrest warrant can be issued to the police. Anti-road injunction breakers have received sentences (of which half is served) of between 1 and 3 months. Injunctions can generate a lot of bad publicity for the plaintiff, and principled resistance and defiance may attract new support.
A campaign should be able to get round an injunction if there are enough non-injuncted activists to make things happen. The M11 injunction in 1994 against 11 people had little effect, as there were so many people involved in the campaign. Those named by the injunction can step back from any legally-compromising activities.
Seeking Injunctions Against Them
Getting an injunction against the enemy is a relatively easy procedure, but involves a lot of paperwork. The likelihood of success depends on how well you put your case. Even if it fails, their behaviour may change, as they take you more seriously.
The best way for an individual to seek an injunction is to go to the County or High Court, and ask a judge for one. You will have to set out your evidence convincingly in an affidavit, and swear it in front of a solicitor. There is a small fee, which will be waived if you are on the dole.
Grounds for an injunction can include "trespass to the person" (eg. battery, assault, false imprisonment), or "trespass to goods" (ie. damage to property, or theft). You will have to convince the judge that it is urgent, a serious issue, and that failure to grant the injunction would result in further loss, injury or damage. The judge must also be persuaded that your loss if the injunction isn't granted would be greater than the defendant's loss if it is.
Another way of dealing with an injunction application is for the defendant to give an undertaking. This is a promise to the court to do / not to do something which is requested / complained of. Breaking an undertaking is contempt of court.
If you get your injunction, send it to the relevant bureaucrats, and give copies to site workers and the police. This constitutes service.
At the M11 campaign in November 1993, protesters managed to get an injunction banning the DoT from evicting a treehouse in a Chestnut Tree, until they had gone through all the proper procedures. In 1994, the M65 Campaign succeeded in getting an undertaking from a director of Group 4 Security, who had to come to court (with a dozen bodyguards!) to promise not to use violence against protesters.
You don't need a solicitor to get an injunction, but could talk to one for advice. If you want representation, you may be able to get Legal Aid.
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) is set up to deal with complaints against the police. The PCA is supposed to be independent, but is dominated by cops. They are not worth much effort. In fact, if you are considering suing the police (see below) or taking a private prosecution, don't go anywhere near them.
The PCA acts as a protection ring to make sure that any allegation against the police is dismissed. For example, when a woman was strangled unconscious by a cop at Twyford Down in December 1992, the PCA dismissed the complaint after a "full investigation". They found 30 police witnesses who were prepared to say that they witnessed a protester do it! As a result, when the woman went to pursue a civil claim the police had seen all her evidence and prepared their story.
If you criticise police behaviour in the media, they may defend themselves by pointing out that no official complaints have been made. So publicly criticise the PCA too, and make sure the media know if you are suing the police.
The only benefits of making a complaint are that it will get to the police officer concerned. Cops hate being investigated; it may stay on their record, hindering promotion. Complaints can also be used to create a fuss. After the Police violence against those defending the famous M11 Chestnut Tree in December 1993, 50 complaints against the officer in charge of the operation were compiled by the campaign solicitor. This exerted significant local pressure, with the MP getting involved as well.
If you want to make a complaint, write to the PCA (see Chapter xx), with a copy to the relevant Chief Constable. A senior police officer will then arrange to meet you to take a statement, probably at the police station. Alternatively you can make a complaint to the inspector at the police station at which the relevant police officer is attached. This is even less effective than the PCA, but could be used in minor cases.
Suing The Police
Recently some anti-road activists have successfully sued the police. There are also some cases pending against security guards for assaults and false imprisonment - the results of these are still to be decided. There are some excellent solicitors who specialise in suing (see Chapter xx). The benefits are obvious - you could get lots of compensation money, and perhaps even an apology, not to mention standing up to something unacceptable, and perhaps, making a repeat in the future less likely.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult for people with jobs to sue the police, as you will need Legal Aid, or have to fund the action out of your own pocket. If you lose the case you will have to pay the other side's costs if you fund the action yourself. If you are on Legal Aid and lose, the police cannot normally enforce the costs order without the court's permission, and therefore rarely do.
You will need patience, as it will probably take years - there are no instant results. If the police think they will lose, they may make you an out-of-court offer to settle the case, and thus avoid court expenses. It is up to you whether you want to take this, or push it to trial and see if you can get a higher sum. Legal Aid may be removed if you fail to accept a reasonable offer.
You will need a good case. Grounds for suing include: wrongful arrest, unlawful detention, malicious prosecution, and assault. The most difficult part can be getting good evidence, so make a statement, and contact those you remember witnessing the incident, and its build-up. Get an independent doctor's report if you have been assaulted.
You usually get several years after the incident to sue the police. However, try and do it as soon as possible as finding witnesses gets no easier with time. Good luck!
Chapter 16 - Useful Contacts
Note: Most of these contacts are now severely out of date.
Tel : 01438 367452
Opposing A1(M) "upgrading".
PO Box 6, Ottery St Mary, Exeter, EX11 1YL
Tel : 01404 815729
Anti-DBFO road campaign, very experienced in
defensive tactics, going for several years.
PO Box 3290, London NW2 3UJ
Party people + newsletter.
Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS)
c/o 2 St. Paul's Road, Islington, London, N1 2QN.
Tel : 0171 359 8814 Fax : 0171 359 5185
22 Lutton Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9PE
Tel : 0131 555 5165
ALARM UK (national Alliance Against Roadbuilding)
9/10 College Terrace, London E3 5AN.
Tel/fax : 0181 983 3572
Anti-road network of local grassroot groups + newsletter
+ briefing sheets including Action Observing.
ALF Supporters Group
BCM Box 1160, London WC1N 3XX
Prisoner support + newsletter.
Anarchist Black Cross
121 Railton Road, London , SE24 0LR
Practical support for political prisoners + magazine.
Bindman & Partners
275 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8QF
Tel : 0171 833 4433 Fax : 0171 837 9792
Solicitors with excellent criminal lawyers.
Bingley Bypass Campaign
Tel : 01274 826520
Campaign to stop A650 trunk road.
London, WC1N 3XX
Confidential mail forwarding service.
Box 25, 82 Colston Rd, Bristol, BS1 5BB
Prisoner support newsletter.
Campaign Against Lorry Menace (CALM)
62 Oakhurst Grove, London, SE22 9AQ
Tel : 0181 693 8752
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
162 Holloway Road, London, N7 8GQ
Tel : 0171 700 2393 Fax : 0171 700 2357
Youth CND : 0171 607 3616
E-mail : email@example.com
Newsletters, NVDA training.
Centre for Alternative Technology
Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 9AZ
Tel : 01654 702400 Fax : 01654 702782
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Loads of progressive publications on solar and wind
power, compost toilets etc.
Chesterfield Law Centre
44 Park Road, Chesterfield, S40 1XZ
Tel: 01246 550674 Fax: 01246 551069
Helpful legal advice.
Tower St, Flamborough, East Yorkshire
Campaigns through the courts after digging up old laws.
He has beaten open-cast mine proposals and plans which
involve digging up hedgerows.
Communities Against Toxics
PO Box 29, Ellesmere Port, South Wirral, L66 3TX
Tel : 0151 339 5374
Campaign against toxic waste dumps and incinerators.
Cardiff, CF4 3UZ
PO Box 2679, Brighton, BN2 1UJ
Tel : 01273 278018
e-mail : c/o email@example.com
The news you don't see on TV.
c/o 56A Info Shop, 56 Crampton St, London, SE17
Fax : 0171 326 0353
Box E, 111 Magdelen Road, Oxford OX4 1RQ
Tel/fax : 01865 791 391
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Research dodgy companies and publish the dirt.
Council for the Protection of Rural England (C.P.R.E.)
25 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1 0PP.
Tel : 0171 976 6433 Fax : 0171 976 6373
Publish some good reports. They are very conservative.
c/o Transmission, 28 King St, Glasgow G1 5QP
B' Bond Warehouse, Smeaton Road, Bristol, BS1 6XN
Tel : 0117 925 0505
e-mail : email@example.com
Dead Trees EF!
c/o SDEF!, Prior House, 6 Tilbury Place, Brighton, BN2
2GY e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Distribute lots of books and pamphlets, including "Do or
Box Z, 13 Biddulph St, Leicester LE2 1BH
Campaign against Shell and Nigerian abuses of Ogoni
Distribution Service for Anarchists (DS4A)
Box 25, 82 Colston St, Bristol BS1 5BB.
Mail order bookshop for those titles you don't see in
Earth Liberation Prisoners
c/o Box 23, 5 High Street, Glastonbury, Somerset
Earth First! Action Update
PO Box 9656, London N4 4JY
web site: http://www.hrc.wmin.ac.uk/campaigns/
Send min. £5 postal orders or cheque to "Earth First!"
for 12 issues. Subscriptions - not the EF! HQ!
The Battlebridge Centre, 2 Battlebridge Rd, Kings Cross,
London, NW1 2TL
Tel : 0171 278 1005
Solicitors specialising in environmental law.
Agriculture House, Bath Road, Sturminster Newton,
Dorset, DT10 1DU
Tel : 01258 473795 Fax : 01258 473748
e-mail : email@example.com
Excellently researched monthly magazine.
The Jan Rebane Centre, Brixton, London SW9 0BL
Tel : 0171 737 0100
Inspiring social gatherings.
Environmental Law Foundation
Tel : 0171 404 1030
May help with legal challenges to schemes.
Environmental Transport Association
Old Post House, Heath Rd, Weybridge, Surrey KT13
Tel : 01932 828882 Fax : 01932 829015
If you've got a car, join the ETA, instead of the AA or
RAC, as they both actively lobby for more roads.
Ethical Consumer (ECRA Publishing)
Unit 21, 41 Old Birley St, Manchester M15 5RF
Tel : 0161 226 2929 Fax : 0161 226 6277
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Research consumer products to see how "right-on" they
are, and publish a monthly magazine.
Faslane Peace Camp
Shandon, Helensburgh, Scotland
Tel : 01436 820901
Womens Actions Tel : 01706 812663
Long established camp outside nuclear submarine base in
PO Box 9384, London SW9 7ZB
Tel/fax : 0171 582 3474
Action line (recorded message) : 0171 793 7343
Anti-Criminal Justice Act alliance.
Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High St, London, E1 7QX
Tel : 0171 247 9249
Print two newsletters and classic anarchist texts.
25 Low Friar St, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 5UE
Tel : 0191 222 0090 / 0191 222 0094
Fax : 0191 221 0066
e-mail : email@example.com
National lift sharing, organised hitch-hiking.
Friends and Families of Travellers
1st Floor, 33 High St, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9HT
Tel/fax: 01458 832371 Crisis line 0378 432210
Support nomadic people in Britain. Also hold a national
list of sympathetic solicitors
Friends of the Earth
26-28 Underwood Street, London N1 7JQ.
Tel : 0171 490 1555 Fax : 0171 490 0881
Friends of the Earth (Scotland)
72 Newhaven Road, Edinburgh EH6 5QG
Tel : 0131 554 9977 Fax : 0131 554 8656
c/o 53 Edithna St, Stockwell, London, SW9 9JR
Tel : 0973 328640
Green Anarchist Network
BCM Box 1715, London, WC1N 3XX
Bradley Close, 74-77 White Lion Street, London, N1
9PF e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel : 0171 713 1941 Fax : 0171 837 5551
E-mail provider, i.e. where you get an e-mail address.
The Green Party
1A Waterlow Rd, London, N19 5NJ
e-mail : email@example.com
tel : 0171 272 4474 Fax : 0171 272 6653
Canonbury Villas, Islington, London N1 2PN
Tel : 0171 354 5100 / 865 8100 Fax : 0171 696 0012
PO Box 217, Guildford, GU22 6FF
Free information newsheet.
5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London, N1 9DX
Tel : 0171 837 4473
Hunt Saboteurs Association
PO Box 2786, Brighton, BN2 2AX
Tel: 01273 622827
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors
St. Peter's House, Hartshead, Sheffield S1 2EL
Tel : 0114 276 7777 Fax : 0114 275 3306
Excellent solicitors for suing the police.
Jigsaw Non-Violence Project
The Jigsaw Box, 111 Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4
Tel : 01865 240383
c/o Larkfield Centre, 39 Inglefield St, Glasgow G42
Tel : 0141 226 5066 / 424 1797
Produce "Cothrom" newsletter.
c/o Prior House, 6 Tilbury Place, Brighton, Sussex BN2
Tel/fax : 01273 685913
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Produce "SchNEWS", excellent weekly newsheet.
The Land is Ours
Box E, 111 Magdelen Rd, Oxford OX4 1RQ
Tel: 01865 722016 e-mail : email@example.com
Campaign for access to land + newsletter.
Legal Defence & Monitoring Group
c/o BM Haven, London WC1N 3XX
Tel : 0171 837 6687
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Experienced Action Observers.
61 Woodcock Road, Warminster, Wilts.
Tel : 01985 217871
e-mail : email@example.com
Network of Local Exchange Trading Systems.
21 Tabard Street, London SE1 4LA.
Tel : 0171 403 3888 Fax : 0171 407 5354
Formerly National Council for Civil Liberties.
Lloyds and Midland Boycott Campaign
Manchester University Students Union, Oxford Rd,
Manchester, M13 9PR
Tel : 0161 274 4665
Campaign for High Street banks to get rid of Third
London Cycling Campaign
228 Great Guildford Business Square, Great Guildford
St, London, SE1 0HS
Tel : 0171 928 6112 Fax : 0171 928 2318
Manchester Airport Campaign
Coalition Against Runway 2 (CAR2), c/o One World
Centre, 6 Mount St, Manchester, M2 5NS
Tel : 0161 834 8221 Fax : 0161 834 8187
Mobile : 0958 451525
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Opposing a new runway which would obliterate a large
area including woodland and old farm houses.
McLibel Support Campaign / London Greenpeace
(nothing to do with Greenpeace UK!),
5 Caledonian Road, King's Cross, London N1 9DX
Tel : 0171 713 1269 e-mail : email@example.com
What's wrong with McDonalds? If you don't know, get
Mendip Hills Not Holes
P.O. Box 2113, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4
Campaign against expansion of Whatley Quarry.
Menwith Womens Peace Camp
A59 Lay-by, Nr Menwith Hill Spybase, Nr. Harrogate,
tel: 01943 468593
Women's camp highlighting international spy base.
Granta House, 15-19 Broadway, London, E15 4BQQ
Tel : 0181 519 2122 Fax : 0181 522 1728
Campaign and advice group for people in mental distress.
Has over 200 local association.
Methodist Clubland, 54 Camberwell Road, London, SE5
Tel : 0171 277 4852 Fax : 0171 277 4853
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign internationally against large-scale mining
Nonviolent Resistance Network
162 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DQ
Tel : 0171 607 2302 Fax : 0171 700 2357
e-mail : email@example.com
NVDA training + newsletter
c/o Miner's Office, 2 Huddersfield Road, Barnsley, South
Yorkshire, S70 2LS
Oppose open cast mining, dig up Heseltines lawn etc.
Organic Roundabout Ltd
28 Hamstead Road, Hockley, Birmingham, B19 1DB
Tel : 0121 551 1679 Fax : 0121 515 3524
Supply organic fruit and vegetables.
218 Liverpool Rd, London, N1
Tel : 0171 700 6189
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign against multi-national quarry company Rio
Tinto Zinc (RTZ) + newsletter.
Greenloaning, Dunblane, Perthshire, FK15 0NB
Tel : 01786 880490
Resource and action centre, NVDA Training.
5 Caledonian Road, London, N1 9DY
Tel : 0171 278 3344 Fax : 0171 278 0444
e-mail : email@example.com
Excellent internationally-distributed monthly magazine.
Covers a wide range of issues.
Peace Prisoner Support
c/o 16 Sholebroke Avenue, Leeds, LS7 3HB
Tel : 0113 262 9365
126 Aldersgate St, London EC1A 4JQ.
Tel : 0171 490 0750
Quarterly magazine, which used to be quite good.
PO Box 1, Buckfastleigh, Devon TQ11 0LH.
Tel : 01654 712188
Positive alternatives, forest gardening, compost loos,
mulching and much more! + newsletter.
Ploughshares Support Network
Box X, 111 Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4
Tel : 01865 714036
Disarm weapons of war by committing accountable
Prison Reform Trust
15 Northburgh Street, London, EC1V 0AH
Tel : 0171 251 5070 Fax : 0171 251 5076
National Charity which deals with enquiries about prisons
and produces a very useful book called "The Prisoner
24 Rochester Close, Derby, DE24 0HS
Tel : 01332 756158 Fax : 01332 753515
Provide advice and support to prisoners and their
Quaker Peace and Services
Friends House, Euston Road, London, NW1
Tel : 0171 387 3601 Fax : 0171 388 1977
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
"Turning the Tide" NVDA training project.
24 South Road, Hockley, Birmingham, B18
Tel : 0121 551 1132 Fax : 0121 515 3524
Network of radical co-operatives.
Reclaim The Streets
PO Box 9656 , London N4 4JY
Tel : 0171 281 4621 e- mail : email@example.com
Do lots of anti-car, pro-bike and pedestrian actions.
3 Gunthorpe St, London, E1 7RP
Tel : 0171 247 1702 Fax : 0171 247 1885
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Reforest the Earth
42-46 Bethel St, Norwich, NR2 1NR
Tel : 01603 631007 Fax : 01603 666879
e-mail : email@example.com
Royal Society for Nature Conservation (R.S.N.C.)
The Green, Witham Park, Waterside South, Lincoln
Tel : 01522 544400 Fax : 01522 511616
Salisbury Transport Action Group (STAG)
PO Box 1611, Salisbury, SP1 2BF
Tel : 01722 339224
Save Our Railways
Southbank House, Black Prince Road, London SE1 7SJ
Scottish Council for Civil Liberties
146 Holland Street, Glasgow, G2 4NG
Tel : 0141 332 5960 Fax : 0141 332 5309
c/o Brighton Peace Centre, 43 Gardner St, Brighton,
BN1 e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel : 01273 620125 Fax : 01273 689444
Direct Action in boats.
1a Waterlow Road, Archway, London N19 5NJ
Tel : 0171 272 1394 Fax : 0171 272 9243
PO Box 8959, London, N12 5HW
Tel : 0171 561 1204 Fax : 0171 272 9243
e-mail : email@example.com
Comprehensive and entertaining newpaper, which is
Stringer's Common Campaign
50 Old Farm Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 1QN
Tel : 01483 32167
Anti-road campaign to stop the A320. Camp called
Yogurt Free State...
Teddy Bear Woods Camp
Tel : 0468 221454
Campaigning against Weymouth A353-A354 Relief
Third Battle of Newbury
PO Box 5520, Newbury, RG14 7YW
Tel/fax : 01635 45544
Road protest campaign.
Tools for Self Reliance
Ringwood Road, Netley Marsh, Southampton, SO40
2GY e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel : 01703 869697 Fax : 01703 868544
Make and repair tools for Southern nations.
10 Melton Street, London NW1 2EJ.
Tel : 0171 388 8386 Fax : 0171 388 2481
Transport pressure group.
UK Working Group on Landmines
601 Holloway Road, London N19 4DJ
Tel/fax : 01296 632056
16b Cherwell St, Oxford, OX4 1BJ
tel : 01865 203661 fax : 01865 243562
e-mail : email@example.com
News you don't see on TV!
The Vegan Society
Dept GW, Donald Watson House, 7 Battle Road, St
Leonards-on-Sea, E. Sussex, TN37 7AA
Tel : 01424 427393
180 Mansfield Road, Nottingham NG1 3HW
Tel : 0115 958 5666
Mobile cafe, may do food for big events if you give them
Woodland Awareness and Network of Defence (WAND)
Tel : 01368 850630
Scottish woodland defence network.
Women's Environmental Network
87 Worship St, London EC2A 2BE
Tel : 0171 247 3327
Campaigns on issues particularly effecting women, as
well as genetic engineering etc.
Selected International Contacts
Canopy, PO Box 1738Q GPO, Melbourne 3001,
Tel : 0061 3 3547972
An Talamh Glas
c\o Anne, Abbey St, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, Eire
Ballyhoura Talamh Glas
Cois Abhann, Kileen, Garyspillane, Co. Limerick
Tel : 00 353 62 46868
12 Cathedral St, Dublin 1
Tel : 00 353 1 874 3875
Eco Action, 2 Bis Arthur Magot, 60000 Beauvois,
Resistance Verte, BP 631, 53006 LAVAL Cedex, France
La Goutte d'Eau, Cette Eygun, F-64490, France
Tel : 010 3359 347883
Protest against road through Vallee d'Aspe in the French
Pyrennes (last habitat of brown bear in Europe).
Action for Solidarity, Equality, Environment and
Development (ASEED Europe)
Postbus 92066, 1090 AB, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tel : 0031 206 682 236 Fax : 0031 206 650 166
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Network of European youth environment groups
European Youth For Action (EYFA)
Postbus 94115, 1090 GC, Amsterdam, Netherlands
e-mail : email@example.com
c/o Avalon, Friedrich-Ebert-Str. 24, 45127 Essen,
Sustainable Europe Tour (SET)
Merzhauser Strasse,150-007, 79001 Freiburg, Germany
Anand Skiria, PB#14, Cochrin 682001, Kerala, India
Tel : 0091 484 25435
Volunteers for Earth Defence, 189 San Antonio
Ext.SFDM, 1105 Quezon City, Philippines
Workshop for all Beings, ul.Modrzzewskiego 29/3, 43-
300 Bielsko Biala, Poland
Fax : 0048 30 29496
Rainbow Keepers, POB 14, Nizhny Novgorod 603082,
Tel: 007 8312 343280
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
A. Hinklo 11, 96001 Zvolen, Slovakia
Young Lions EF!, PO Box 27491, Greenacres 6057,
e-mail : email@example.com
M.A. Dernandes, Taller de E.A.A.CURUXA, J.B.
Xelmirer J, Campus Universitario, 1570 S Santiago,
Tel : 0034 81 584321
Morgan Larsson, Lagmansgaten 9C, 46 37 Vanersborg,
Earth First! Journal
PO Box 1415, Eugene, OR 97440, USA
Tel : 00 1503 7419191
Rainforest Action Network, 450 Sansome St, San
Fransisco, CA 94111
Tel : 001 415 398 4404 Fax : 001 415 398 2732
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Rainbow Keepers, c/o Nadia Shevehenko, Glushkova 17-
22, Kiev. 252187
Tel : 007 044 2669310
e-mail : email@example.com
Brays Detective Agency (have spied on roads protestors
ever since Twyford. Their heads could be in your dust
bin at this very moment.)
8 Bellevue Road
Southampton SO15 2AY
Tel : 01703 637496/7 or 635946 Fax : 01703 639552
British Roads Federation (the mouthpiece of the Roads
Pillar House, 194-202 Old Kent Road
London. SE1 5TG.
Tel : 0171 703 9769 Fax : 0171 701 0029
Richard Turner Limited (climbers used to evict tree
people in Stanworth Valley, Newbury, Selar and
101 Couple Lane, Old Tupton, Chesterfield
Tel : 01246 861738 Fax : 01246 863587
Fortress House, Saville Row, London, W1X 1RB
Tel : 0171 973 3000 Fax : 0171 973 3001
Northminster House, Peterborough, PE1 1UA
Tel : 01733 455100
Countryside Council for Wales
Plas Penrhos, Fford, Penrhos, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57
Tel : 01248 385500
Police Complaints Authority
10 Great George St, London, SW1P 3EA
Tel : 0171 273 6450
Scottish Natural Heritage
12 Hope Terrace, Edinburgh, EH9 2AS
Tel : 0131 447 4784
Department of the Environment
2 Marsham St, London, SW1P 3EB
Rivers House, Waterside Drive, Aztec West,
Almondsbury, Bristol, BS12 4UD
Tel : 01454 624400
Quango combining National Rivers Authority and Her
Majesties Inspectorate of Pollution
St Christopher House, Southwark St, London, SE1 0TE
Tel (press office) : 0171 921 4180
Lawrie Haynes (Director) : 0171 921 4080
Highways Agency Roads Program Directorate
Tollgate House, Houlton St, Bristol BS2 9DJ
Federated House, London Road, Dorking, Surrey
Tel : 01306 870100 Fax : 01306 870222
Department of Transport
Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London,
Tel : 0171 271 5000
Public enquiries : 0171 271 4800
Press enquiries : 0171 271 5764
Press notices posted at :
House of Commons
Under Big Ben, By the River Thames, Westminster,
London, SW1A 2PW
Tel : 0171 219 3000
House of Lords
Westminster, London, SW1A 0PW
Rue Belliard 97/113, 1040, Brussells, Belgium
UK Office : 0171 227 4300
Chapter 17: Useful Resources
PUBLICATIONS AND VIDEOS
If contact details aren't included, see Chapter xx. If they aren't there,
then we don't know them.
ALARM UK Briefing Sheets
Covering all aspects of anti-road campaigning - eg. Stopping the Bulldozers:
A Guide to Nonviolent Direct Action Against
"Animals Contacts Directory"
Lots of contacts available on disk and paper. Available from Veggies.
"Autogeddon" by Heathcote Williams.
Anti-car poem published by Jonathon Cape.
"Basic Law for Road Protesters" by Peter Gray.
Know their law and you have an extra weapon. Available at
http://www.gn.apc.org/pgray; or tel : 01795 890162; e-mail:
This is an essential networking tool, the "yellow pages" of action groups.
Send œ4 payable to Justice? (Brighton)
"Britain's Media: how they are related"
This book describes the multinational media world. ISBN 1898240-04-3.
"Campaigners Guide to EC Environmental Law" by Richard MacCrory.
Available from CPRE (Publications department, tel : 0171 976 6433).
"The Campaigning Handbook" by Mark Lattimer.
Covers a wide range of campaigning ideas. Available from Directory of
Social Change, 24 Stephenson Way, London NW1
2DP; tel : 0171 209 5151
"The Campfire Tapes: tales from the front-line '94-'97" is a 30 minute
video, edited to be the best of Conscious Cinema 1-
4. This exciting, short video costs œ5. Send your money to Conscious Cinema.
Get informed about those wicked companies from this entertaing and
"Critical Mass : How To"
Guide about how to make Critical Mass bike rides happen successfully.
Available from GRIP, 41 Sutter St, #1829, San
Francisco, CA 94104, USA. (It may also be available from Cyclists Have A
Right to Move (CHARM), PO Box 3738,
London, E8 2BA).
Newsletter focused on exposing Shell and the Nigerian governments abhorrent
activities in Ogoniland.
"Do or Die"
A voice from Earth First! Essential reading; send a œ2 postal order to Dead
"Direct Action Direct!"
Rabble rousing eco-direct action pamphlet available from Box A, Public House
Book shop, Little Preston St, Brighton,
East Sussex, BN1 2HQ.
"Directory of Grant Making Trusts"
Lists of potential funding bodies, tone down "political campaigns" when
applying. Available from Charities Aid
Foundation, 48 Pembury Road, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 2JD.
"Earth First! Action Update"
Monthly action round-up, an inspiring read.
"Earthforce! An Earthwarrior's guide to strategy" by Paul Watson.
Hierarchical and macho but with a few good ideas. Chaco Press
"Ecodefense" by Dave Foreman.
Info on Creative mechanics, machinery recycling and dealing safely with
guard dogs etc. Available from radical book
"Fighting Road Schemes"
A Friends of the Earth Guide.
Regularly updated computer software package available from 65 Raglan Road,
Leeds, LS2 9DZ.
"Guide to major Trusts", "Environmental Grants" and "Raising money from trusts"
Published by Directory of Social Change, 24 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2DP;
tel : 0171 209 5151.
"Housmans' World Peace Directory"
Contact list of over 1900 groups from all around the globe. Housmans Peace
Resource Project, 5 Caledonian Road,
London, N1; tel : 0171 278 4474; fax : 0171 278 0444; e-mail :
"How to Defend Yourself in Court" by Michael Randle.
Available for œ4.99 (+ 10% p+p) payable to Civil Liberties Trust, 21 Tabard
St, London, SE1 4LA.
Interesting newspaper produced by the Independent News Collective, funny and
informative. Available from PO Box 3878,
London SW12 9ZE; tel: 0181 673 0062; fax: 0181 627 5803
"Low Impact Development" by Simon Fairlie.
The British planning system from the bottom up - from the point of view of
the planned rather than of the planner.
Essential reading for anyone taking on the Planners! Available from J.C.
Publishing, The Spendlove Centre, Charlbury,
Oxon OX7 3PQ.
"Ozymandias Sabotage Handbook"
A practical guide to creative mechanics. Use a search engine to find it on
the World Wide Web.
DIY Culture magazine, looking into exciting aspects of "alternative"
politics. Send cheque or postal order for œ2.50
(please leave "payable to" line blank) to Pod HQ, PO Box 23, London SE4 1SW.
"The Shareholder Action Handbook" by Craig Mackenzie.
Describes Company Law, buying shares, some tactics for NVDA actions at AGM's
etc. Published by New Consumer Ltd,
52 Elswick Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 6JH. ISBN 1 897806 00 0.
"Simple in means, Rich in ends" by Bill Devall.
Deep ecology book. Quite heavy going but worth the effort.
Available for œ1 from ASS.
The "SchNEWS Reader"
Issues 0-50 of SchNEWS and 60 pages of wicked cartoons. A modern
historical document about people on the ground (or
up a tree!) Send œ2.99 payable to Justice? (Brighton).
The "SchNEWS Round"
Issues 51-100 of SchNEWS. Send œ5 payable to Justice? (Brighton).
Wide ranging and in-depth look at issues and actions happening now. Very
readable and informative.
"Transport trends and transport policies : myths and facts"
Useful statistics available from Transport 2000.
"Twyford Down: Roads, Campaigning and Environmental Law" - Barbara Bryant.
Published by Chapman Hall.
Video magazine of grassroots non-violent direct action available for
œ7.49(un-waged) / œ10.49 (waged).
Poem for Wrecking Roadbuilding
This book is an idealised version of how campaigns could work. It is not necessarily a step-by-step recipe for success. New ideas are constantly evolving, so this book could never pretend to be comprehensive.
We hope you enjoyed reading this book, and that it wasn't too bossy or daunting. Our main aim was to cram the maximum number of ideas for action between the covers. Use it, copy it, pass it on, add to it, and don't let it gather dust.
THE LOW ROAD
What can they do to you?
Whatever they want.
They can set you up, bust you,
they can break your fingers,
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs `till you
can't walk, can't remember.
They can take away your children,
wall up your lover; they can do
anything you can't stop them doing.
How can you stop them?
Alone you can fight, you can refuse.
You can take what revenge you can
but they roll right over you.
But two people fighting
back to back can cut through a mob
a snake-dancing fire can break a cordon,
termites can bring down a mansion
Two people can keep each other sane,
can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation
a cell, a wedge.
With four you can play games
and start a collective.
With six you can rent a whole house
have pie for dinner with no seconds
and make your own music.
Thirteen makes a circle,
a hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your
own newsletter; ten thousand
community and your own papers;
a hundred thousand, a network
a million our own world.
It goes one at a time.
It starts when you care to act.
It starts when you do it again
after they say no.
It starts when you say we
and know who you mean;
and each day you mean