[I myself was present, but here is an article written by someone who was at Brightlingsea for the first time. -Tim]
I am going to try and report on todays events at Brightlingsea. It is perhaps rather difficult for me, today is the first day I have seen live 'meat' animals on their way to slaughter and I found it very upsetting.
Today was a special day for the campaign against live export. It perhaps represents a turning point in the tacics used by protesters. The protestors started gathering fairly early although the truck were not expected untill about 1pm.
The plan was to use tactics used by the No-M11-Link-Road campaigners and Greenpeace activists in other countries. The road would be blocked by a tripod made from scafold poles, erected hastily when the trucks arrived. From the tripod would hang a lone activist while other activists would chain themselves to the uprights and each other.
Unfortunatly someone grassed up the plan and the location of the equipment. The police removed the poles and the plan was ruined. Who the grass was, we never found out.
[We also have an alternative suspicion - that phone lines (and possibly rooms and cars???) are bugged to a far far greater extent than suspected, and that police surveillance in general of known activists is also far greater than suspected]
The tactic of using hardware was still used. A chain of activists was formed accros then road. Around their wrists was cord and a karabiner. They then inserted their arms into metal pipes and hooked on to each others karabiners. The ends of the line was passed around a telegraph pole on one side of the road and a road sign on the other. The idea of the metal pipes is to protect the binding and the karabiners from being removed or cut by police. [see photo above]
Local residence had parked their cars in the road forming an virtual car park. There were thirteen such cars parked right accros the road. The tyre on these cars were let down, but it didn't realy help much when they came to being moved. The police 'bounced' the cars out of the way. Many were later towed away and the owners had to pay to recover them. A camper van was amoungst the last to be moved. Protesters had filed the van in an attempt to make it very hard to 'bounce'. Unfortunatly, someone forgot to lock the back door so everyone was removed before the van was pushed away.
A stalemate occured for some time while police tried to move an elderly woman in a seat. The press and camera men were here in force and the old woman is a well known individual.
The human chain came next. I however had been physically removed by this time and was now back in the middle of the main crowd of protesters, forming a 'sitdown' behind the 'chain'.
How the chain was broke is a bit of a mystery. It is believed that the police found that they could slide one of the pipe up the protesters arm and managed to cut the binding (several method exist that would have prevented this: 1. longer pipes that went right upto the peoples armpits , 2. pipes with bars welded into place half way down so that the hooks could be attached there, thus preventing the pipes from being slide).
[I can solve the mystery for everyone. The chain broke in two or three places at once. At one end the police managed to cut the binding, as is mentioned above. At another point, the links were not long enough, so at least one protestor was just holding on with her hand inside. All of this is easily solvable though. -Tim]
Once the human chain was broken, the police went through the rest of the protesters very quickly. They would stepp over a row of sitters than police behind would pluck out each person in turn. (It is worth noting that those people that got up of their own free will where not escorted away by police, while those that didn't even put their legs down required three of four policemen to carry them away.
The trucks were then bought through. There were seven or eight. All but one were full of sheep, the other was calves. One truck was stacked four layers high! It was very emotional,; I felt helpless to do anything and the animals would look onto my eyes.
Up to now had taken about three to four hours. There had been over a dozen arrest. There must have been in the order of 500 protesters and around 250 police. There were lots of press and TV; including the BBC and the Canadian TV (CBC). (Note: Channel Four news quoted 2000 as the number of protesters!)
As the protest reached the port, police tempers flared and one office lashed out at a protester with a punch. Some other incident resulted in an ambulance being called for a protester.
After that the numbers died down, it had been a long day. It then started raining and the sky went dark. Strange, but throughout the protest, the sun had shone, yet before and after, it was pissing down.
My driver and one of our other passanges were amougst those arrested so getting home was a challenge. The locals were friendly and welcoming.
It is very strange to hear meat eaters chanting for animal rights. I find it difficult to onderstand how they can continue to be blind to the fact that is their chossen diet that make the trade which they are protesting about. I am sure that many are reconsidering their diet.
Although todays tactics did not work as planned, it seems likely that they they will be used again, both at Brightlingsea and at other protests. More people forming more human chains using an improved version of the pipes would work!