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Experiences of a legal observer at Dale Farm

legal observer (repost) | 21.09.2011 11:05 | Dale Farm | Anti-racism | Free Spaces | Policing

Just back from a few nights at Dale Farm. I was on legal observer duty Monday morning 7am - 1pm. Most of it was spent on the gate scaffold observing the bailiffs rearranging their offices, then - when they realised we could see everything - they ordered in a new container to block our view. Not many police around apart from the helicopter. A few tense times when the bailiffs twice put their coffee cups down and organised themselves into groups: once they actually approached the gate but retreated after reading the notice about the lock-in.

The view from the gate scaffold was amazing, the whole of the long approach was packed with TV, newspaper reporters and camera men. Tony Balls and a high ranking police officer came to do a press conference - not near the site but in a field across the other side of the bailiff enclosure. Basildon is putting out news intended to deceive the public and divide us but the straight-talking Traveller women have put matters right each time by talking directly and clearly to the media. Despite Basildon's attempt to corral them, many of the media including the BBC and main newspapers, are embedded within Dale Farm.

Basildon Council are in disarray with nobody seeming to know which pitches have planning permission, which have static chalets, which have special dispensation because of illness, age, maternal needs, what they are allowed to move, and what they aren't allowed to move. So how can they possibly instruct the bailiffs?

The caravans may have been moved out but the Travellers are in there with the activists who have been welcomed to stay in their chalet homes with beds, tea and food. When we heard the welcome news at 5 pm from court about the reprieve until the next hearing on Friday we all celebrated together.

The Travellers are determined that, if there are no appropriate places to move to then they are staying put on their own land. It looks like it might be a long haul, I've come home to get myself rested and ready for the next session. We still need as many people as possible to come and help in whatever way, even if only for a short time. Yesterday some local supporters just came and stood outside the gate with home made placards - which was very effective. We need food and mugs for the camp and money for the legal expenses etc. To help go to the Dale Farm solidarity website.

Whatever happens we all feel we have been part of a historical moment and that it is the beginning of a movement of Travellers and house dwellers working together for their right to a home. The court case on Friday is scheduled for the morning so listen out for the news. Do feel free to pass this on to people you know.

legal observer (repost)
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