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Arrested for walking on a public footpath. Photo: Salford Star.
Arrested for walking on a public footpath. Photo: Salford Star.
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  • Barton Moss -'frack-free children' join the demonstration. Photo: Salford Star.
    Barton Moss -'frack-free children' join the demonstration. Photo: Salford Star.

Fracking camp: Salford's shock at Barton Moss policing

The Salford Star

19th February 2014

For Salford school half term, yesterday was designated Children's Day at the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp with crafts, balloons and games. In between the fun, local families witnessed the full force of the Greater Manchester Police Tactical Aid Unit.

I am staggered with what I've seen ... I just stood on the side and cried

Greater Manchester Police yesterday tried to force old ladies, children and residents into a dangerous stampede during iGas lorry deliveries to the exploratory drilling site.

"The attitude they [the police] came with today was one of conflict and confrontation ... and they were prepared to do whatever they had to do to get it. I'm really proud of the protesters here who remained peaceful ... It's very difficult in the face of brutality like that but that is the essence of our protest", said Dan, a protestor.

Carmen Shiels, her husband John and two children live in Irlam, just minutes from the potential fracking site at Barton Moss where energy company iGas is doing exploratory drilling for coal bed methane and shale gas.

I am staggered by what I have seen

She works for a council doing partnership work with the police. "I'm a local resident, a peaceful person, I've never demonstrated before in my life, I'm not a politically aware person, just easy going, believe the Government, believe people, but do you know what? I am staggered with what I've seen", she told the Salford Star. "It breaks my heart." 

Carmen has been following events at Barton Moss since December and the previous day had been down to see for herself what was going on, as people peacefully and slowly walked the iGas delivery lorries down the court designated public footpath on Barton Moss Road to the exploratory drilling site.

"I came down, watched it go past, stood on the side and just cried, watching the police just pushing people down this footpath. Today I came and joined the group. My husband at one point was being pushed and shoved by the police.

It was all pre-meditated

"As we got to the [Batton Moss Children's] secure unit, one of the Police Liaison Officers went up to a local lady who has a bad leg said 'The Tactical Aid Unit are going to speed it up in a minute, I'll give you the nod and you can get out of the line'."

"In other words, it was pre-meditated. All of a sudden the speed was just upped and it went at a much faster pace. I broke away from the front and went into free space because I was quite frightened actually."

Another Salford resident, also on the walk-down for the first time and who didn't want to be named, called it "disgusting policing", as the speed of the police lines that pushed people down Barton Moss Road almost created a stampede.

"Anyone who can't walk fast enough is put in a dangerous situation - I'm amazed that no-one got seriously hurt."

He was not walking fast enough

During the morning lorry protest an ex-serviceman wearing three proud medals got arrested by the police for apparently not walking fast enough.

The Salford Star had a quick word with him while police were removing his gold service medal before taking him away, and asked why he had been arrested ... "For peacefully protesting", he said.

Dan, from the Camp, described the morning scene: "About ten minutes into the protest they deployed the Tactical Aid Unit and from that time it was nothing but abuse, pushing, shouting, pressure points being used on people's backs, shins being kicked, people being dragged out of the line and arrested, people being dragged out of the line for no reason and not arrested."

What are you going to do about it?

"There was one officer in the middle of the line who was basically using tactical questions to try and demoralise people", Dan added. "I witnessed that same officer assault a young lady and said to him 'These are peaceful protesters', and replied 'What are you going to do about it?' And smiled.

"I saw him punching her in the back, using pressure points, kicking her, basically everything bar beating her up. But in response to him asking 'What are you going to do about it?' I said 'This isn't a fight, it's a peaceful protest', and he smiled at me again and said 'What are you going to do about it?' ...

"I was amazed that his commanding officer stood there doing nothing about it. The attitude they came with today was one of conflict and confrontation and it seemed like they wanted that confrontation and they were prepared to do whatever they had to do to get it.

I'm really proud that the protestors remained peaceful

"I'm really proud of the protesters here who remained peaceful - nobody pushed a police officer back and everyone remained peaceful, like we have been from the start. It's very difficult in the face of brutality like that but that is the essence of our protest."

Following that 'brutal' morning protest, the Camp's Children's Day began with youngsters painting banners, playing games and eating lots of biscuits and chocolates.

It created a kind of surreal calm before the bailiffs arrived handing out Peel Holdings' 'Possession Orders' for evictions which will be heard in the High Court on Friday (See previous Salford Star article).

Old ladies hobbling out of the way

At around 4pm, after the Camp's Druids had performed a 'circle of peace' outside the iGas gates, the lorries left the entrance to the site - and again the TAU began pushing people down Barton Moss Road.

They were moving them at a speed that saw old ladies with sticks hobbling to get out of the way and children running in front of the lines to avoid the stampede.

One protector, Boris, kneeled down in the path of the police lines and the iGas lorries with a plate of doughnuts and a sign reading "What will you tell your grandkids?". He was arrested.

Another man on the front of the police lines walking as fast as he could near to the Salford Star photographer was pulled out of the line by the police and seemed to have been arrested.

The police were chased back to their vans

At the end of the Barton Moss Road, after the police had formed a guard for the iGas lorries to exit onto the main highway, people's fury at the TAU tactics spilled over.

The police were chased back to their vans, with one elderly lady waving her stick at them, while others tried to block the vans exit from the scene shouting "GMP, GMP ... iGas private army ... "

Earlier, Salford resident Carmen Shiels had questioned the attitude of Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart and Salford City Councillors - none of whom have been near to Barton Moss to see for themselves what is happening - and the local media which is not reporting on the situation either ...

"I'm appalled at the Salford Mayor and all of them", she said. "Why have they not responded? Even if they came out and said 'We agree with all this, it's right for this country, it's going to do this, this and this' ... but nothing is being said.

"My concern also is as a member of the public who relies on local media", she added. "The BBC, Granada, Salford Advertiser, they're not publishing anything. They're not talking about fracturing, they're not down here ... There's demonstrations every day and they are not here. That concerns me more in some ways. It frightens me. It's sinister."


This article was originally published by the Salford Star under the title 'Salford residents shock at Barton Moss GMP policing'.

 

 

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