Nora Egan returned to the Dale Farm traveller site in Essex this afternoon, Wednesday, in a wheelchair. She woke up this morning perfectly healthy. Now she has a fractured spine.
Nora is just one of the Travellers living at the site who say riot police assaulted her as an eviction of the site began.
She told Socialist Worker, “I brought my five-year old child to a caravan on a legal plot this morning because I thought it would be safe.
“A police officer pushed me against a wall. Then he got me on the ground. He kept kicking me and kicking me. Two officers dragged me along the ground, even though I kept saying I was in pain.
“Then they just dropped me on the floor and left me there.”
Essex police said they would investigate the circumstances leading up to Nora Egan receiving “a minor back injury”.
The eviction of around 400 Travellers by Basildon council began this morning, exactly one month after it was due to begin. Legal challenges forced the council to delay.
Now, just one day into the eviction, police stand accused of injuring Travellers. They have admitted using tasers on protesters.
Mary Slattery, another Traveller, also says a police officer assaulted her this morning. “I asked a police officer what he was doing in my yard,” she said. “He got me on the floor, put his knee on my chest and held his forearm against my neck.
“It lasted for ages.”
Essex police said they treated those on site with 'respect and dignity'.
Nora said three other Travellers were in Basildon hospital along with a supporter who police tasered. One of the Travellers is Cornelius, an elderly man who relies on a nebuliser breathing machine to live.
The council cut off all electricity to the site this morning – despite the fact that some Travellers need electricity for their breathing machines. Cornelius had an asthma attack.
Paramedics had to visit Mary Flynn, another Traveller who uses a nebuliser, to provider her with one.
Mary, her daughter, told Socialist Worker, “We used to live on the road and saw police on a daily basis. Here we built up some trust in them. I’d tell children, if they needed help to go to someone in a uniform.
“How can they trust the police now? How can anyone trust the police now?”
Lots of children and vulnerable people remained at Dale Farm today as police and bailiffs swarmed around the site. Police set up random “sterile areas” that stopped people moving around the land they own.
They even stopped Travellers living on legal plots from leaving. “It’s like being in jail,” complained one.
The racist discrimination Travellers face had motivated many people to come and support them.
Helen had attached herself to a concrete barrel and fence to try and stop the eviction. “This is a human rights issue,” she told Socialist Worker. “Travellers here have tried lots of times to make this site legal.
“They’ve been rejected every time. The law is completely biased against Travellers.”
For much of the time, despite provocation, Travellers kept remarkably good humour. “Here comes the catwalk,” said one as yet another line of police marched past.
“All coppers are bastards,” was a regular chant.
And it’s important that, for all the massed ranks of riot police and bailiffs, it took them the whole day to remove a few Dale Farm supporters from a scaffolding.
The eviction will continue tomorrow – and so will the resistance. If you can, get to Dale Farm and help support the Travellers.