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Menwith Hill - CAAB report

CAAB | 07.07.2003 01:12 | Anti-militarism | Sheffield

CAAB report of Independence from America day at Menwith Hill

The Gatecrasher's Ball at Menwith Hill
Friday 4 July 2003

About 400 people came from all over the country - north, south, east and west to the Gatecrasher's Ball at the American base at Menwith Hill calling for Independence FROM America. It was a very good day. The weather was kind - blue skies and sunshine. People rose to the occasion and came dressed in wonderful costumes including beautiful, imaginative ball gowns and masks (some men included!) and top hats and tails.

After an initial hold up because of problems with the generator for the sound system not working, Chris Dean on behalf of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases and friends welcomed everyone and then invited people to join in a public reading of the Declaration of Independence FROM America (adapted by CAAB from the orginal).

Mark Thomas introduced the excellent speakers - Mark Hill (Green Party) Catriona Grant (Scottish Socialist Party) Rebecca Johnson (Greenham Comman and Vice Chair Board of Atomic Scientists) - unfortunatly Steve Kemp (NUM) was unable to come - Danbert (Chumbawumba) spoke later.

The planned walk round the base had to be cut short because of time factors but primilarly because of the chaotic policing. We were not allowed to start the walk for, what seemed like a quite unnecessary length of time.

Two police horses were put at the front of the walk. They seemed inexperienced horses and their riders were clearly not in control of them as they reared up, backed into protestors and were generally not fit to be at any demonstration until adequately trained. It became potentially extremely dangerous. This was the first time police horses have ever come for a demonstration at Menwith Hill)

Despite the organisers trying to continually reason with Inspector Shelton (North Yorkshire police) that we should start the walk and that the police horses should be withdrawn, this was refused. Later the two horses were replaced by four horses who were marginally better trained. The police horse unit came had come all the way from Sheffield.

The purpose of the walk was for a guided tour round the base with stops at various places where Lindis Percy ((CAAB) would give some information about Menwith Hill. This was not fully achieved and a difficult decision had to be made as to whether we continued going round.

The atmosphere was becoming somewhat tense because of the chaotic policing. Because we were running short of time a difficult decision was made to go back to the Main entrance and start the programme of music etc. Many apologies to those who wanted to continue.

Several people walked a short distance on the base until stopped by Ministry of Defence Police Agency officers on base. The policing was generally heavy and unreasonable.

The public footpath was closed by a row of NY police who refused to say under what Act they were doing this.

There was a wonderful line up of artists - musicians and poets which was hosted by Mark Thomas who also spoke in his unique way - a combination of humour and political satire.

There was dancing in the road and later a drumming work shop facilitated by Steve Hill from Leeds. We reluctantly brought the demonstration to a close at about 7.30 pm.

There were three arrests. Three people were charged with a variety of alleged offences.


We were extrememly disappointed and somewhat angry that North Yorkshire police had let us down so badly. We had met and carefully liaised with North Yorkshire police and had come to an agreement as to how the demonstration should be policed. On the day the police unilaterally changed all the carefully negotiated agreements.

The police were reasponsible for any conflict that happened and it was quite unnecessary that so many police and police horses were drafted in. There could have been serious injuries because of the incompetent policing.

We have had good relations with NYP over many years. We discussed this with the Assistant Police Constable of North Yorkshire who was there on Friday. He will be investigating the policing on the day. CAAB will then be meeting with NYP at some stage to express our concerns and disapointments as to what happened on the day.

As far as the policing was concerned it was frankly a disgrace and not what we have been used to over the years. We have worked to ensure that any demonstration involving CAAB was safe for all concerned. However the main issue is that the police help us to exercise our human right to peacefully demonstrate (despite the US authorities).

Despite all this thank you so much to everyone who worked to hard and helped in the organisation of the Gatecrasher's Ball and to all those who contributed to making it such a good day.

Saturday 5 July 2003 at NSA Menwith Hill

Lindis Percy (Joint Co-ordinator CAAB) was the lone demonstrator the next day when the Americans at Menwith Hill 'celebrated' their Independence Day.

There were a lot of police once again and 10 NY police officers were present while Lindis held the US flat (upside down) with the words INDEPENCE FROM AMERICA written on it towards visitors to the base.

She was videoed all the time by NY police while she was at the base. Because she has bail conditions at Menwith Hill (also at 9 other US bases and Fylingdales) the police measured the imposed distance of 5 meters with a tape measure and drew a yellow line at intervals across the road! If only energy was put into addressing the serious issues of what the US government are doing round the world generally and specifically at Menwith Hill!

It seemed that very few people came to this event on the base. There were many more on the outside calling for INDPENDENCE FROM AMERICA the day before!

NEXT DEMONSTRATION organised by CAAB inconjuction with Yorkshire CND

Saturday 11 October 2003 at Menwith Hill
Details later on CAAB and YCND websites

International week of protest called for by the Global Network against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space (held for the past three years at Menwith Hill and other US bases)


There has been a weekly witness and protest outside the Main entrance to Menwith Hill for over three years - organised by CAAB every Tuesday evening (7-9 pm).

It's even more important than ever to let the US authorities and their employees know that we totally oppose what they are doing at Menwith Hill - please come.......

Anni Rainbow and Lindis Percy
Joint Co-ordinators
8 Park Row, Otley, West Yorkshire, LS21 1HQ, England, U.K.
Tel/fax no: +44 (0)1943 466405 0R +44 (0)1482 702033
email: or

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Display the following 6 comments

  1. Lindis Percy at Menwith Hill on July 4th — steve
  2. well done — Ernest
  3. Lindis Percy at Menwith Hill — Lindis Percy
  4. Lindis Percy at Menwith Hill — Lindis Percy
  5. more chris dean — vicmunki& t.s.o 4 trollyd
  6. Menwith Hill article — Melanie Ndzinga