Keep Space for Peace Local Action at Menwith Hill

2 October, 2004

From: The Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases - CAAB

The police outnumbered the demonstrators by about 5 - 1, when we gathered to protest at the crucial role Menwith Hill is playing in the American Missile Defense System. It was great that people came.
This is the fourth year that CAAB has organised this demonstration and for the first time we did not have any 'celebrity' speakers.  The celebrities were the people who were there and who were invited by Lindis Percy (Joint Co-ordinator with Anni Rainbow - CAAB) to use the micophone to speak to 'Star Wars'.   A moving song was sung by Pete - 'Clouds over Menwith' composed by himself.  A woman urged those working on the base to vote for John Kerry.  An upside down US flag was held with the words 'PLEASE VOTE HIM OUT' written across the flag.  Dave Webb - Convenor of the GN spoke about the role that Menwith Hill is to play in AMD.  Lindis Percy stressed the absolute need and importance to always link Menwith Hill to Fylingdales and Fylingdales to Menwith Hill.
We turned our backs on the base for two minutes to remember all the people who have been killed, injured and maimed by the dreadful folly of the invasion of Iraq.  The many police present were also invited to respect this moment.
We set off to walk round the base - surrounded by police with three police horses leading the walk and three bringing up the rear.  CAAB had successfully negotiated with North Yorkshire Police, permission to walk the ancient rights of way which cross two corners of the base.  We stopped at various gates where Lindis Percy and Dave Webb, in turn talked about the base - the implications of the presence of the US Visiting Forces and their Agencies and the technicalities of AMD. 
While the walk was happening, the bi-monthly Quaker Meeting for Worship took place at the Main entrance.  This has been going for over fourteen years.  It alternates with a Meeting for Worship at Fylingdales.
The heavens opened as we walked round - drenching rain and hail stones (people round the world pray for rain so it did not matter!)...and on we went.  We came to the second foot path.  Lindis Percy led the way and was utterly shocked by suddenly being arrested by a Sergeant Petty (North Yorkshire Police) for being in breach of the bail conditions imposed some time ago.
There had been an unspoken agreement from the police that the bail conditions would be relaxed for the demonstration as was the case during the demonstration on 4 July this year.  No police officer had mentioned to Lindis that she was in breach of the conditions through out the day.  She had tied flags on the fence, the Liaison officer had been with her for most of the demonstration, she had spoken to a senior police officer, she had walked the footpath, leant up against a farmer's gate while telling the people on the walk about the breach of the bail conditions and all in full view of the substantial police presence....and not one officer had said anything...until Sergeant Petty pounced.  Rhythms of Resistance drummed while Lindis was being roughly arrested.
The walk continued along the footpath and arrived at the Main entrance to be met by the wonderful playing and energy of the Peace Artistes.
The unnecessary arrest of Lindis was a distressing incident and ended the demonstration in somewhat of a sour note. Lindis was taken to Harrogate Police Station and held until Monday morning - to appear at Harrogate Magistrates' Court.  She should have been heard before the court started its business but was not heard until 2.45 pm.  She defended herself - said she was in breach of the bail conditions 'by default'.  The Magistrates retired and returned to impose the same conditions.  Unusually they made no comment as to whether Lindis had or had not breached the bail conditions. Lindis also addressed the court as to the unacceptable practice of keeping people who have been in detention (Lindis had been in detention since Saturday afternoon) until the routine business of the court was over. She so hopes that something positive will emerge out of this for everyone and that court policy will be reviewed. 
Thank you so much to everyone who came - to Dave Webb, Rhythms of Resistance, Steve Hill who came to do a drumming workshop, to the Peace Artistes and to Veggies of Nottingham and to everyone who helped.


Rhythms of Resistance

The footpath across the corner of the base

Lindis is arrested

The wonderful Peace Artistes

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