International Day of Protest

Report from: Menwith Hill, UK

By Anni Rainbow
Pictures by Richard Crossley

Despite being fraught with unexpected problems the CAAB demonstration was great!

Two of our main speakers were unable to attend at the last minute due to medical reasons (best wishes for speedy recoveries to George Monbiot and Diane Wallis MEP). Believing that things could not get worse we were proved completely wrong when the police unexpectedly (and unnecessarily!) arrested Lindis Percy at her home on the Friday afternoon for alleged breach of bail and took her into custody. However friends rallied round and the demonstration went ahead on Saturday more-or-less as planned. (Thank you to Yorkshire CND for collecting and returning the sound system.)

Message from Lindis Percy:

Dear friends

This is what happened which meant I was unable to be at Menwith Hill for the demonstration organised by the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) - the timing was all very curious.

I didn't get to the demo because I was suddenly arrested the day before (Friday midday) at home by a Ministry of Defence police officer who came with an Inspector from the Humberside civil police (very unusual) and PC for supposedly failing to attend court on Monday - I had faxed a letter to the court the night before and which the court had received.  It was all very odd that they should have chosen the day before the demo at MHS which I was one of the organisers and would have played a significant part.  It was odd because the warrant for my arrest was issued by the Magistrates on Monday.

I have been spuriously charged with alleged theft of two US flags (I didn't)  I went to two US bases - in broad daylight - took down the US flag in protest against AMD - folded the flag neatly up and put it in my car in front of two US personel.  The MDP were called - they did not arrest as I had written a note to the Americans to say that I did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of his flag.  I would return the flag to the US Ambassador (the 'keeper of the US flag') and drove quietly away in front of the MDP who did nothing - they couldn't as it was not theft.  For over a year I have tried to get an appointment with the US Ambassador so that I could return the flag - he won't meet as I have said I would be bringing a letter of protest about 'Star wars' - I keep trying!  I took another down in September - before the 11th and was suddenly arrested at Mildenhall when I was protesting on my own there after the 11th - I was charged with theft of two US flags - each worth 100 apparently.  I have elected to go to the Crown court - it will be an interesting case as the Crown Prosecution Service are wanting to keep it in the Magistrates' court and not before the twelve good people of the jury.

I was up at Menwith at the weekly demonstration on Tuesday and there were 16 MDP there for 8 demonstrators - they should/could have arrested then but chose to pick me up the day before the demonstration at Menwith Hill on Saturday

I have never appeared in court on the first stage of a case - I have been arrested hundreds of times and have had many many cases over 20 years so I do know the system.  I have never failed to contact the court by letter to say that I will be pleading not guilty and that has always been accepted - until Friday.

I was taken to the Central police station at mid-day on Friday and stayed there over night - I was taken by Group 4 in one of those horrid vans to Oxford where I appeared in court at 1 pm ish.  The court made no issue of the alleged breach of bail but did impose draconian bail conditions on the request of the CPS (MDP):

Over the years I have had all manner of bail conditions - not to go within 5 miles, all varieties of meters/yards/ to report daily to a police station, not to go outside the boundaries of Bradford, to reside and sleep at a variety of addresses, not to enter any MOD property in the world etc etc - I've in fact been on continuous bail since about 1986 - I say this with no pride or pleasure.

These conditions are:  Not to go within 25 meters of any military establishment used by the United States within England and Wales -

We will of course be going to the High Court to try to get these conditions lifted as it totally stops me protesting at any US bases in England and Wales.

I thought of all the actions round the world as I sat in the cell from midday to after midday the following day - terribly terribly sad but sure that we can stop this madness.  It sounded a very good demonstration at Menwith Hill.

In peace

Lindis Percy
Co-Coordinator with Anni Rainbow
CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF AMERICAN BASES (CAAB)
www.caab.org.uk

 

The demonstration was held just inside the main entrance of the base in the visitors car park. It began with a candlelit vigil remembering all victims of all terrorist attacks ... on 11 September, before 11 September and after 11 September. A peace candle passed on from a chain of candles for peace around the world was lit by the young son of Josephine Joffey from Bradford School of Peace Studies and a minute's silence was observed.

When we handed over the microphone to the demonstrators, we could have no conception of what an inspiring event it would become. Speaker after speaker moved us with their passionate, reasoned arguments against Star Wars, bombing Afghanistan, millions starving whilst each cruise missile costs $1 million, etc. etc. Danbert from the group Chumbawumba and Jane Shalice from the magazine Red Pepper took their turn at the microphone as did Tony and Sue who sung some stirring songs. With such a well-informed public, we were all given hope that one day we really shall overcome. We thank them all for their eloquence, and hope that they will return to Menwith Hill for future demonstrations.

Paul and friends shared their wonderful drumming and Veggies from Nottingham provided non-stop delicious food throughout the day. Geoff and Jane Clapp, solicitors and Chris Butler, first aider, were on call all day but not needed.

The afternoon walk around the base gave people the opportunity of getting the measure of the place. Many people told us that the word 'Menwith' meant more to them by the end of it. The intention had been for Lindis to speak from the front and Chris from the back. We were sorry we forgot the loud hailer in the morning rush but - running to and fro was not satisfactory but at least we tried!

Ministry of Defence police said 230 protesters were on the walk (thank you to North Yorkshire police for their low-key policing and for closing the roads while the walk was in progress) and it was estimated that nearly 300 people came to the demonstration during the day (10am-4pm) to say 'STOP STAR WARS' and 'STOP BOMBING AFGHANISTAN'.

If you can please continue supporting CAAB by coming on the weekly Tuesday night demonstrations against Star Wars and Bombing Afghanistan. We meet at the Main entrance to NSA Menwith Hill at 7pm with banners/candles/appropriately inscribed US flags and we stay for two hours. 

Anni Rainbow and Lindis Percy (Co-coordinators)
CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF AMERICAN BASES (CAAB)
email: anniandlindis@caab.org.uk
Website: http://www.caab.org.uk



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