‘In 1984 and 1985 my husband was a striking miner. I was a member of a women’s support group, helping in the food kitchen and taking part in women’s picket lines and demonstrations.
While taking part in these demonstrations and picket lines I witnessed police tactics at first hand. What we have recently seen of police tactics at the G20 demonstration should come as no surprise to all those people who were involved in the Miners’ Strike 25 years ago.
I have personal experience of the tactic that the police now call “kettling”. During a women’s demonstration, I was part of a group of about 200 women who were herded by the police on to a grass bank at the side of the road.
We were then surrounded by them and prevented from leaving the area for any reason for around two hours. During this time a woman fainted and fell through the police cordon.
This woman was dragged away by two policemen over a gravel path where her legs were cut and bleeding. She was then arrested.
On another occasion miners’ wives were joined by a group of women from Greenham Common where the women were subjected to foul and abusive language and personal insults prior to being arrested.
As well as this, throughout the strike anyone even suspected of being associated with the miners’ dispute had their movements restricted. Police stopped cars and threatened drivers and their passengers with arrest if they didn’t turn back. The police gave no justification for this but tried to bully a whole community.
These tactics demonstrate the contempt that the majority of police officers had towards a number of groups in society and the way that they infringed the human rights and freedoms of individuals.
There is clearly a comparison to be drawn here with the current police tactics at the G20 demonstration.’
Joyce Sheppard, Doncaster
‘The Death of Ian Tomlinson and the brutal treatment of G20 protesters will come as no surprise to miners and their families.
During the 1984-5 strike the police violently attacked pickets and our communities, especially those which were well organised to prevent scabbing – people breaking the picket line and going to work.
In Armthorpe, where I worked, the police sealed off the village, made arbitrary arrests, stormed into houses, and indiscriminately beat miners and their supporters. All this was meant to intimidate and break the spirit of resistance.
These attacks, like those at the Orgreave coking plant in 1984, the poll tax demonstrations in 1990 and the G20 protests, happened because at key moments in the struggle the police are used and willing to be used as government hired thugs whether it be under Margaret Thatcher or Gordon Brown.
We need to show solidarity with trade unionists, protesters and campaign groups so they can exercise their human rights to demonstrate, picket or occupy.’
Andrew Butler, Former miner at Armthorpe Colliery, Doncaster
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