Caravan set on fire as riot police begin Dale Farm eviction
The caravan was set ablaze to stall the line of advancing riot police (Pictures: Channel 4 News)
Wednesday, 19, Oct 2011 10:39
by Marcus Dubois
A burning caravan has been used as the centrepiece of a barricade by protestors challenging the eviction of travellers from Dale Farm in Essex.
According to the Press Association, riot police entered the UK's largest travellers' site at 0700 after breaking down a fence at the rear of the farm. The move followed earlier discussions at the front with residents, described by supporters as a diversionary tactic by police. Officers used axes to hack through fences and gain entrance, prompting clashes between police and protestors in which bricks and bottles were thrown.
The caravan was said to have been set ablaze in order to stall a line of riot police moving forward. One angry protestor stood in front of the burning caravan bearing a cross, and compared Dale Farm to the Gaza settlements in Israel. Speaking to broadcast media, she claimed both groups had faced "persecution and ethnic cleansing".
The caravan itself belongs to a 72 year old resident Mary Flynn, a severely ill traveller who applied for an injunction in August to stop her eviction from the site.
Reports from the Guardian suggest that a second caravan painted with the words "Lady with difficulty breathing" was also set ablaze around 09.30 this morning.
The Dale Farm eviction
Fifty-one illegal pitches are said to be home to up to 400 people on the Dale Farm site. On Monday residents were denied the right to appeal against a High Court ruling which allowed Basildon Council to evict them.
Leader of Basildon Council Tony Bale was outspoken about the protests. "The pre-meditated and organised scenes of violence that we have already seen with protestors throwing rocks and bricks, threatening police with iron bars and setting fire to a caravan, are shocking".
Meanwhile the Dale Farm Solidarity Campaign issued a statement earlier this morning explaining the reasoning behind their actions. "Residents and supporters remain inside the site, many locked onto blockades and caravans together in order to resist the eviction. Police breached the perimeter to initiate the eviction".
At the time of writing, police and bailiffs were engaged in a standoff with protestors, with several being forcibly removed from scaffolding and buildings.