Last Friday marked a year to the day since the police assault on Dale Farm in Essex, previously Britain’s largest Traveller site.
To mark the anniversary, the Traveller Solidarity Network took its struggle right to the doorstep of central government in an attempt to “evict Eric Pickles” from the Department of Communities and Local Government. The department has legislated to strengthen eviction powers, and funded part of last year’s operation.
Some 200 supporters formed a lively demonstration in the pouring rain, climbing on the roof to paste up eviction notices on the building.
The heavy handed police response in bringing out dogs forced some of the Travellers present to relive the traumas of last year’s eviction, and a number of supporters were arrested for breach of the peace.
Of course the disruption caused was minuscule compared to the wholesale destruction of a community—and the continuing lack of access to basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation faced by many Dale Farm Travellers.
The demonstration highlighted the continued situation at Dale Farm, where over 20 trailers still line the roadside with nowhere else to go. Basildon council now plans a second eviction in the coming months.
The Fight For Sites campaign has been set up to campaign locally and nationally for better site provision for Travellers—the only feasible solution to end the cycle of evictions.
The alternative—which is the unspoken agenda of Pickles’ Localism Act—is assimilation, and it’s not far off. Already over half of Britain’s Travellers and Romanies live against their will in bricks and mortar accommodation.
These communities bear the brunt of scapegoating. They need our solidarity as anti-racists who know where the real enemies are. For more information contact [email protected]