Report on Menwith Hill Blockade

20 March, 2004

From: Dave Webb, Leeds, UK

Well, we closed Menwith Hill spy base for a good few hours !

The weather was terrible - rain and wind during the whole time - but the blockaders where brilliant. We started at around 5am - taking the police a bit by surprise (although apparently they had been there since 8pm the previous evening - we did not advertise the time that the blockade would begin).

Waves of people arrived from various directions and we blocked 3 of the 4 gates - with the police closing the main gate for us. There were very long queues of cars and vans who couldn't get in to the base waiting to get in. 

About 30 people were arrested - including Lindis and me !

Locked together

Lindis is arrested

Protest outside York Police Station

I was actually driving a minibus and collecting and delivering people but the police stopped me and searched the bus and accused me of being in possession of 'objects likely to cause criminal damage'. Actually all I had was the public address system that we were going to use to give information etc on. This arrangement for a loudspeaker system had previously been agreed with the police but the particular group that stopped me had not been properly briefed and were not properly lead and so I was taken off to Harrogate prison where I spent 7 hours in a cell (from 6am to 1pm).

In a way I had the better deal because I was dry and fairly warm whereas the steadfast protesters who had chained and locked themselves together had to suffer the severe North Yorkshire weather.

I don't think any of the people arrested were actually charged with an offence in the end we were just held for a few hours so that we couldn't rejoin the protest. We filled the cell block at Harrogate though (even with doubly and trebling up) and some people were taken to York. While I was sitting in my cell I heard the unmistakable voice of Lindis Percy - who is quite accustomed to the prison at Harrogate police station.

The police were very heavy handed and actually violent in some instances but the protestors remained controlled and offered no violence at all. We aim to make serious complaints about police behaviour.

There was quite a bit of media coverage and even a statement issued by the base (which is very unusual I think) - they claimed that we were an anti-American protest (not true - anti-Bush administration and anti-star wars maybe !) and that all we had done was held up a school bus for 30 minutes (also not true because we had agreed to let the school bus though).

So we were all in good spirits at the end and went off to get dry and warm up with a nice hot cup of tea.

See also: Yorkshire CND report (with more pictures), Indymedia report (and even more pictures), CAAB report and News reports.

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