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Anti-Bush Protests in Sedgefield - reports from chasing bush site

have mobile will chase | 21.11.2003 18:17 | Bush 2003 | Anti-militarism | Indymedia | Technology | London

Reports and updates from today's visit by Bush to Sedgefield from the ace Chasing Bush website.


The Fantasy Village
Posted by wild on 21/11/2003 at 17:02 GMT

From Channel 4 News' Anchorman Jon Snow:

President Bush has flown out of Britain aboard Airforce One - there were marvellous moments in the Prime Minister's constituency as, bundled up in body armour beneath his sports blazer, Bush strode around an empty village and eventually spots a couple of people to shake hands with. Okay Okay the woman had a vast stars and stripes knitted into her sweater, but it did the job. Suddenly there were five apparently ordinary mortals for him to be photographed with. Look out for it in Time Magazine and most certainly in some bout of electoral literature. After that he spotted another lone figure in the village and paced across to grab his hand too...never mind that it was the Prime Minister's press spokesman.

So he's gone. Surprised he didn't leave in a stealth bomber, just to keep the theme of the visit up.


Bush can't see protestors, but must be able to hear them
Posted by Jim on 21/11/2003 at 15:30 GMT

They seek him here, they seek him there, but the innocent little eyes of Bush are kept well away from anyone who might not agree with him. If his ears are functioning correctly, however, he must have been aware of us shouting.

Yup, I was in Sedgefield this morning. Upon arrival at about 10.30am, and pleasantly surprised that the roads weren't closed, I made my way into the centre of town, where protesters were shepherded by the police - on the village green between the "Inn on the Green" and the church (and on the road alongside down to a point about level with the church, where passage was blocked off with a heavy police presence).

On the local news, they said there were about 200 protesters. I would estimate roughly 500. Certainly a lot more than 200, anyway. There was a handful of people with banners saying "Welcome Mr. Bush", and "These people don't speak for us", which is fair enough (referring to the anti-Bush protesters). But they only numbered around a dozen.

A large loudspeaker system ensured that protest chants were heard, all around the village, and the public were encouraged to take the microphone and state their message for Mr. Bush. I believe the speaker setup was organised by the Stop the War Coalition. Chants, shouts and speeches carried on throughout the morning, with a Liberal Democrat councillor denouncing the illegal internment of people at Guantanamo Bay, and the Stop the War Coalition chairperson giving a long speech about the level of protest seen in London, and how their alternative royal procession yesterday turned out to be the only royal procession.

At about midday, we saw the Presidential helicopter fly overhead on its way from Teesside Airport to Trimden, where Shrub got out and met the Prime Minister.

I find it absurd that we, the protesters, were not able to see the bottom of the road and could at no time see Georgie Bush, well ensconced away from us in his sanitary zone (or whatever buzzword they use to describe the no-go area around him). We had to rely on television news reports to find out when he arrived, and his armoured macho-mobile was only about 100 metres from where we were all gathered. Astounding. He'll have heard us though, there's no doubt about that.

The heavily-vetted "ordinary members of the public" were bussed in and passed us on the way to meet the Shrub.

There were a couple of what I presume were TV cameras around the protestors, but only two or three of them. And the newspaper reporter I heard mention of and witnessed interviewing people was from the local newspaper. Where was the national press?

It is surreal enough that the US President was having lunch with the British PM in a small town in the north-east of England, not 200 metres from where I was standing, but it is utterly absurd that the public weren't allowed even to see him, let alone say anything to him.

There were a fair few police photographers around, taking pictures of people who were shouting protests. And if we weren't going to be anywhere close to the prez, why were we all given a body search and made to empty our pockets before entered the "restricted area"? I shall be watching the news with great interest this evening, and do you know what, I don't reckon there'll be many pictures of us protesting.


Bush Back to School
Posted by wild on 21/11/2003 at 14:57 GMT

Another remote location report:

he's here in sedgefield at the school

I wonder if the children take time off for his visit.

I wonder still if the children were allowed to take that same time off to protest at his visit to the school.

Methinks not. They might have a 'free speech corner' in the classroom though. Lets trust to hope.


Free Speech Zones hit Britain
Posted by Manic on 21/11/2003 at 13:36 GMT

Bush is inside a heavy cordon, and the cameras strain to see past the cars to the carefully-selected 'real' people waving little flags in welcome. The voice-overs are dominated by a shouty man with a megaphone, but few cameras turn to see.

The protestors' passage into town was inhibited by traffic control. Those that did made it in early and/or slogged over land by foot gathered at the only nearby public space; the village green. It is here that they're being kept.

Mr Bush walks into the back door of the Inn, so he doesn't see them, either. Neither does Laura Bush, who was heard to innocently remark that she had seen more happy faces than protestors on this visit.

Ladies and Gentlemen, despite all promises and assurances to the contrary, the one thing we all feared - a 'Free Speech' Zone (see - has been established on British soil.

Just think; this could be you - - anytime you want to speak out about something the governnment would rather keep quiet.


The Dun Cow
Posted by wild on 21/11/2003 at 13:09 GMT

More from our roving reporter Jim via our text message number:

bush at dun cow in sedg. We're making noise. He's gone in back door. Can't see us

George'll be climbing into places through the windows next.

Cat Burglar Bush they'll call him.

Apparently the police have segregated most of the protestors away from a group of specially selected people. Those people are allowed near whereas the rest of the protestors are only allowed to protest in a special 'Free Speech Zone'

Eh? We need zones for free speech now?


Bush in Sedgefield
Posted by Manic on 21/11/2003 at 12:20 GMT

Jim's in Sedgefield too:

sedgefld, bush about to arrive. Protesters kept well away


Bush touches down at Teesside Airport
Posted by Manic on 21/11/2003 at 11:32 GMT

11:29am - George Bush arrives at Teesside Airport

The village of Sedgefield (pop. 3,000) has a few guests today. The 1,200 police alone should manage to crowd the place nicely for a cosy down-home visit.


Bush heads to Sedgefield
Posted by Manic on 21/11/2003 at 10:40 GMT

So it's north on Air Force One to Teesside Airport and a short helicopter ride to Sedgefield.

One school has reportedly been closed so helicopters can land in its playing field. We're yet to get confirmation of this, but a dry run was done at this location before Bush arrived.

Another school is open, but on super-duper high alert (and double-secret probation) just in case Mr Bush chooses to visit.

Remember kids, standing up for what you believe in should not disrupt your schooling, but when Mr Bush wants to use you as a stand-by photo opportunity or land his helicopter in the playground, that's OK.

Protestors are already gathered in Sedgefield and getting noisier by the minute. The press are there, as are quite a few locals and people from nearby towns. A flow slowed to a trickle as police started to block incoming roads (told you so) but there are many people parking wherever and walking cross-country. We can pretty much count on a round of grudge-f**k parking tickets. If you get one, send in a scan.

Remember: there will be no exclusion zones on this visit. Every action you see being taken in Sedgefield is an essential security measure, intended to facilitate this highly necessary daytrip.

UPDATE: Several reporters are claiming that Bush intends a quick visit to Tony's constituency home.

UPDATE: BBC: Bush heads for Sedgefield visit

The closing quote from a police spokesman is quite telling:
"A lot of people are going to be put out by this on Friday but unfortunately there is nothing that we can do."

Tell it like it is, brother.

have mobile will chase


Hide the following 3 comments

escaping the free speach zones!!

22.11.2003 00:58

Arrived in Sedgefield just after 10 and was amused to find that we were directed to a field to park and that there was to be a 'park & ride' scheme in progress bussing protestors into Sedgefield - talk about packaged protest.!

Got to the green to see a large police cordon around the area, on entering which we were searched and had our bags checked. There was a large & noisy crowd, some bemused looking locals and loads of police - even FIT from the Met. After a tip off we found a back way out of the cordon and proceeded through an estate until we found ourslef within 50 or so meters of the pub where Bush and Blair were to lunch. Police acted quickly and penned us into the pavement alongside many locals & bush supporters. After a while the whole cavalcade came past within meters of us, certainly close enough for them to see the 15 or so protestors who had made it thru. kept up chants and heckling throughout the meal - just wish id had a megaphone!!


radio one...

23.11.2003 13:53

radio one said that there were about 1000 protesters on friday afternoon (about 4pm i seem to recall). interesting to compare that with your estimate of 500! not often the mainstream get it wrong in that direction?


Ambushed !

24.11.2003 17:11

Myself and four others finally caught up with the beast at about 3pm on friday as he was making his way back to his helicopter. There were maybe a few hundred standing by the roadside, with all except us and maybe five other local anti-war people either apparantly pro the beast or there out of curiosity(?!). Surreal as you like waiting there for him. After 30mins or so his cavalcade came over the hill, with maybe about 15 vehicles. Pretty obvious which one he was in...the vehicles in front and behind were bristling with tooled up bodyguards. Anyway, we all screamed ourselves stupid and made a spectacle of ourselves. He might not have heard us through his plate glass window but he would have seen us, we were about 10 ft away. I like to think he had his microphone open to the outside world so he did hear our farewell messages.
Respect to beast chasers everywhere xx