A dramatic day at the Dale Farm Traveller site in Essex today, Thursday, ended with Travellers leading a defiant march off the site.
Chanting, “Dale Farm – here to stay!”, Travellers and their supporters marched past rows of police and bailiffs through the main entrance at around 4.45pm.
Traveller Kathleen McCarthy told Socialist Worker, “We want the world to see that we can still hold our heads up. We want to have a bit of dignity and pride left in us.”
It was a final show of strength for the Travellers, who have resisted eviction at the hands of Basildon council for the past ten years.
Supporters have now left the site. Some Travellers remain, as there are a few legal plots scattered across the illegal section of the site.
Others drove their caravans onto the legal section of the site. Some still don’t know where they will ultimately end up.
The march came at the end of an emotional day. Early in the morning, bailiffs pulled down the distinctive scaffold that marked the main entrance to the site.
Mary cried as she watched. “It’s sad to see that come down,” she told Socialist Worker. “What is Basildon council achieving by doing this?”
Another Traveller described the eviction as “like Vietnam”. “I’ve never seen anything like this and I never want to again,” he added.
Bailiffs had removed the last protesters who had concreted themselves onto structures earlier in the day.
Fear of violence was one reason that Travellers decided to leave the site today. Many have injuries they say police inflicted on them yesterday – including one woman with a fractured spine.
Helen told Socialist Worker, “The police said they were here to stop violence – but it was the police that caused it. It’s the worst experience I’ve ever been through in my life.
“Shame on Basildon council.”
Michael added, “This is what the government does to Travelling people. They wouldn’t do this to dogs.”