Hundreds of police officers in riot gear launched an attack on climate protesters in Kingsnorth, Kent, on Monday of this week.
The protesters were part of the climate camp, which is running all week to protest against plans to build a new coal-fired power station at the Kingsnorth site.
Activists hope the camp will draw attention to the campaign against the power station and raise awareness about the need to tackle climate change.
The first police raid took place when officers forced their way into the camp on Sunday evening. They seized various items they claimed could be used to carry out “unlawful action” and arrested protesters.
The “unlawful” items included disabled access ramps, board games, soap and fire safety equipment.
Police also confiscated pipes that were going to be used to deliver clean water to the camp.
Early on Monday morning, police staged a second raid, targeting vehicles parked outside the camp that people were sleeping in. The action faced mass resistance as hundreds of activists surrounded police.
The police tried to justify the action by claiming that the vehicles were blocking exit routes and so threatened the safety of protesters. But by Tuesday the police themselves were blocking food deliveries to the camp.
One woman at the camp, Alex Harvey, described the police operation as “political policing of the worst kind”.
Phil Thornhill is the national coordinator of the Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC).
He told Socialist Worker, “The police have been more full-on in their treatment of the protest than they have at previous climate events.
“We organised a march against the Kingsnorth plant last Sunday. Initially the police were helpful. But then they started being very obstructive, refusing to close roads to let us march down them. I had to fight to make sure the march went ahead.”
A massive 1,400 police officers are on “standby” during the camp.
The police treatment of legitimate protest is a disgrace and should be condemned. But it should not obscure the camp’s message.
“There should be no new coal-fired power stations in Britain,” said Phil Thornhill. “We have to get across the urgency of the climate crisis.”