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Fracture capitalism, not England

January 30, 2014

Last week saw Peace Campers form a flying picket in support of anti-fracking campaigners Northern Gas Gala and their protest site at Barton Moss near Salford.

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As drilling company Igas undertakes exploratory work with a view to setting up a full-scale shale gas extraction operation after March, local campaigners have set up camp outside the gates of the facility and aim to stop the frackers before irreversible environmental damage is caused. Trucks entering and leaving the facility are regularly slowed and stopped by demonstrators blocking and walking the access road, causing daily disruption and depleting the profit margin of the entrepeneurial exploiters.

Faslane campers arrived by invitation to give direct action workshops and immediately set to improving site facilities. High and low levels were attended to, with a climber stringing a worthy treehouse aloft whilst other work was carried out below.

An escalated police response took great interest in these activities, with a large number of Greater Manchester Police surprised to find themselves guarding a latrine on a cold dark night until it could be filled with concrete to ensure public safety. Meanwhile, an attempt to scale the fence of the drill site was confounded by poor fitness and a hands-on approach to policing which left a Peace Camper choked, bruised, and in custody. Simultaneously, one of the locals was seriously injured, having played the dangerous game of challenging a senior police officer over the legality of the traffic to the facility.

The violence and intensity of the police ‘facilitating’ the protest seems to be due to the oversight of the GMP’s Tactical Aid Unit, who have transferred the skills and experience of dealing with armed criminal gangs to the peaceful protestors at Barton Moss. Creatively vindictive charges and bail conditions have been used repeatedly to run campaigners through the mill of custody and court, increasing public expense and testing the determination of the anti-frackers.

We’re pleased to report that this determination is not in question. Whilst we shared direct action skills and tactics, we were given a lesson in committed campaigning which made it well worth the trip. On returning, we learned that the treehouse we’d left had been forcibly removed by the authorities, along with the trees it had nestled in. That they’re still there, and still fighting, in the face of such uncompromising oppression is the measure of the Barton Moss camp, and the assurance of their inevitable victory.

Pictures to follow!

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