Climate Camp 2008

Gordon Brown with Hilary Benn at the Climate Camp 2008

To follow on from my last post; I visited the climate camp again yesterday.  They have a tent there called “be the media“. I dropped in to the tent to talk about how how I might be able to contribute within whatever parameters had been agreed on about taking pictures. I don’t know why I bothered.

Common sense had become obfuscated by a framework of decision making based on consensus. Nothing wrong with consensus but in my view you don’t need a committee to ratify principles of respect and courtesy.

Essentially the thing about photography on site was that if you’re media you’re only allowed to wander around between 11am and 1pm and then supposedly with an escort. As I am not media that did not apply to me however because I have a “big” camera I was informed that people might be a bit suspicious and perhaps I did need an escort. After some time highlighting how absurd this was only to be greeted with wry smiles and weak comebacks common sense did eventually prevail. I walked off and just did my own thing.

I took as many pictures as I wanted to. I just did what I would do normally – ask permission if people are going to be recognisable in the shot and respect peoples wishes not to be in the frame whenever anyone said as much.

When I was there there was a very peaceful atmosphere. Lots of workshops and discussions going on. Meals being prepared, kids running about and generally an air of collectivism and community. An interesting place to be.

On another note the relationship between the police and the camp has been tense from the beginning. The camp does not want police on site. Personally I don’t see why not but then I have no intention of breaking any laws to support the cause. When I hear about so called “no go” areas in towns and cities elsewhere I think something has gone badly wrong.

A three-day stand-off between police and protesters continued at the climate camp in Hoo today.  Despite attempts by both sides to resolve issues over how the camp is being run Wednesday ended with no signs of peace ahead.  The protesters have been guarding gate five of the site, dubbed the Western Front, since police attempted to seize a number of vehicles on Monday morning.  Police asked climate campers to move the vans and cars on Monday after concerns over emergency access.  When they had not been moved three hours later, police treated the vehicles as abandoned and attempted to seize them.  Demonstrators acted swiftly and formed a human chain around the vehicles to stop them being taken away.  This stalemate is now into day three. A line of police officers stand facing the camp with a line of protesters sat at their feet; reading, singing, drinking cups of tea and even making origami, for 24-hours a day.  Both parties are working on a rota system. The climate campers take it in turns to stand guard while others enjoy the workshops and programmes on site.  When it comes to swapping shifts for the police, the officers move one by one, being replaced with other officers, so the line of fluorescent jackets is never broken. A three-day stand-off between police and protesters continued at the climate camp in Hoo today. Despite attempts by both sides to resolve issues over how the camp is being run Wednesday ended with no signs of peace ahead. The protesters have been guarding gate five of the site, dubbed the Western Front, since police attempted to seize a number of vehicles on Monday morning. Police asked climate campers to move the vans and cars on Monday after concerns over emergency access. When they had not been moved three hours later, police treated the vehicles as abandoned and attempted to seize them. Demonstrators acted swiftly and formed a human chain around the vehicles to stop them being taken away. This stalemate is now into day three. A line of police officers stand facing the camp with a line of protesters sat at their feet; reading, singing, drinking cups of tea and even making origami, for 24-hours a day. Both parties are working on a rota system. The climate campers take it in turns to stand guard while others enjoy the workshops and programmes on site. When it comes to swapping shifts for the police, the officers move one by one, being replaced with other officers, so the line of fluorescent jackets is never broken. – medwaymessenger.co.uk

On an individual level the vast majority of police officers I have encountered have been fine.  I have though also came across the odd few that were unnecessarily confrontational and threatening. The same could be said for protesters.  On an organisational level I think some bad policing decisions have been made. Though direct action is planned I can’t see how preemptive heavy handed policing is going to prevent any criminal activity that may occur. If anything it has only increased hostility towards them. Maybe I’m naive.

Come Saturday when direct action against Kingsnorth in planned I have no doubt the police will prevent access to the site and deal swiftly with any one choosing to break the law. In my view they should be keeping a low profile up until then. Any intelligence that needs to be gathered before hand will only be marginally added to by the raids on the camp that have been carried out.

andy rogers

Andy Rogers (above), from Wainscott, spokesperson for KCAM sent this message to Prime Minister Gordon Brown: “The Prime Minister must not be taken in by E.ON’s false promises – coal is dirty. Gordon Brown needs to realise that he cannot give the go ahead for new coal power stations in the UK and also claim that he is serious about fighting climate change in the same breath. The government must forget about investment in an old and dirty coal industry, and should concentrate on renewables, which will guarantee our energy security, provide new jobs, and keep the lights on. It will also mean that we can genuinely claim to be serious about stopping the dangerous climate change that will be disastrous for Kent and countries like Bangladesh alike.”

YouTube Climate Camp 2008 News Reports Playlist

Stop Kingsnorth : No New Coal

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