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State violence at Dale Farm

The reality is that the state does not hesitate to use violence, undercover agents, bugging, provocations, and other ruthless and illegal methods to enforce the rule of the few over the many and to selectively defend the laws of private property and state power as and when it chooses.

That is the meaning of the ongoing police-bailiff operation to evict travellers at the Dale Farm site in Essex. It exposes the twisting of the law, the use of informers combined with brute force against anyone who resists the inhuman activities of bailiffs who are “only doing their job”.

Meanwhile, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Police has cancelled publication of a report into undercover operations initiated when spies in environmental campaigns, including Mark Kennedy, were exposed. No doubt they were planning the usual 'one rogue operation gone wrong' cover up.

But another operation has just come to light. Officer Jim Boyling, working undercover in Reclaim the Streets as Jim Sutton, was allowed to use his cover name in court. Police, prosecutors and others must have known. Lying about your name under oath? That's definitely against the law.
The convictions of twenty environmental campaigners were recently overturned in light of the Mark Kennedy revelations; lots of Reclaim the Streeters will be on the phone to their lawyers today.

At Dale Farm, police say they came armed with tasers – which they used more than once – because intelligence from within the camp told them there were weapons hidden there. Of course there were no weapons, but who on the inside supplied police that provocative piece of disinformation?

No one could fail to feel a chill at the statement by Essex County leader Tony Ball. Ball, who could easily serve as Minister of Truth in the coalition, when he stated: "I hope that there are no repeats of yesterday's scenes of premeditated violence and disorder from the protestors on the site, and that we can get on with the job of upholding the law, and clearing the site in a safe, professional and dignified way." Yes, professional beatings, “dignified” taserings, and illegal upholding of some laws.

Police beat people. There have been at least two serious head injuries. They smashed in the sides of people's vans, making them unusable, and the electricity has been cut off on a freezing cold night. Generator fuel ran out in the early hours of this morning. Helicopters circle continuously. Now the bailiffs have moved in behind police.

As traveller Mary Sheridan said: "The only premeditated violence has come from the police – they knew exactly what they were doing when they started beating and tazering people. This is not how a community should be treated by its own council. It’s illegal for us to travel, but illegal for us to settle down here. We’re getting hit by the police but we’ve got nowhere else to go.”

Another Dale Farm resident Kathleen McCarthy said: "The way in which the police are acting has shocked and outraged everyone here. We hope the world is watching.” We are, Kathleen: from Cairo, to New York, to London, to Madrid to Athens, we are watching and learning.

As the occupation outside St Paul’s, Dale Farm, the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson and the anti-cuts protests have all shown – a key role of police operations has been to instigate violence, not prevent it and, secretly, to set others up for arrest.

Mass action is needed to abolish the laws that enforce the rights of private property and profit over all other human and social rights, including the right to travel and to have a place to stay. Organised in a network of People's Assemblies across the globe, we will develop a democratic framework of rights and rule of law. This will involve a Charter of Rights under a new constitution.

Penny Cole
Environment editor
20 October 2011

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