Protest at Fylingdales

October 7 2000

from: Dave Webb []

YORKSHIRE CND supporters travelled to Whitby and Fylingdales as part of the Global Network International Day of Protest against Star Wars.

The day started at 11am with leafleting in the main shopping area of Whitby, the picturesque fishing port and seaside resort on the coast of North Yorkshire. Whitby is the nearest major town to Fylingdales - and well known for its link with the story by Bram Stoker as the port where Count Dracula first entered England. Our mission today was to stop the life-draining activities of the military-industrial complex as it continually pours billions of dollars into NMD and the militarisation of Space.

It started as a nice clear morning in Whitby - although the clouding sky threatened a greyer afternoon. About 15 of us gathered to distribute leaflets which were generally taken with interest and support and collect signatures on our petition which was readily signed. Mobile phone contact was made with the parallel protest outside the US Embassy in London. An enthusiatic newspaper photographer took a few photos.

At 1pm we drove the 10 miles to 'RAF' Fylingdales - the pyramid-shaped phased array radar which forms part of the US Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) and which will need to be upgraded for a role as early warning and tracking radar in the US National Missile Defence programme.

The theme of the demonstration outside the main gate was "Target Fylingdales" - highlighting the fact that the use of Fylingdales as part of NMD would not only threaten progress towards nuclear disarmament and lead to a new arms race in space, but will also mean Fylingdales will become a more obvious target for terrorist and missile attack.

Fylingdales is situated in an exposed part of the bleak North Yorks. Moors and the wind there was very cold. Even so demonstrators split up into groups - some stayed at the main gate while other groups circled the base with cardboard missiles aimed at the pointless radar pyramid. The extra police on duty were happy to follow the protestors around the base perimeter fence - as moving around kept them warm too.

About 20 or so hardy protestors braved the weather which slowly worsened throughout the afternoon until about 3pm when the rain started to fall. Not many people passed by on the road but some did stop to talk, ask questions and join in the protest. Leaflets were also handed out to the police on duty.

We did try to contact the demonstration at Menwith Hill (the other US base in North Yorkshire that would be used as part of the NMD system) but mobile phone coneections could note be made on this remote moor. However, we had received a message of greeting the previous day from members of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) who were organising the demonstration there.

Their message said "You will be much in our thoughts on Saturday - across the moors, dales, rivers and streams at Fylingdales. We will be standing in solidarity with you and many others across the world as we protest at Menwith Hill against the militarisation and weaponisation of space.

Space is for us all - the celestial bodies and the moon are precious and we must be so vigilant and careful to make sure that we pass on to future generations what we ourselves inherited ... keep space for peace.

We must keep the issue of NMD high profile and not allow the UK government to be so foolish and compliant as to allow Menwith Hill and Fylingdales to be used by the Americans."

The newspaper photographer appeared again and we dutifully posed. Then, cold and wind-swept we made our way home.

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