The Big Blockade

Tripod at South Gate
It's 2am on the edge of the Scottish loch, we've just arrived at Faslane from Manchester and a tripod is already going up outside the South Gate. Four hours and 18 arrests later, it's still holding out as police wheel up some staircases and grapple to bring down one of the last remaining blockaders. A cherry picker stands by to bring a couple down from a walkway across the road, but somebody has locked onto it. The road is cleared of the tripod and the police relax. Half an hour later the road is blocked again, and some OAPs are wheeling in some strange, twisted bicycle structure under cover of a large banner. Every-one is pointing out to the Dibble that nukes are illegal, a crime under international law. They stay tight-lipped. As the sun rises the blockade begins in earnest and it's mid-afternoon before the last body is dragged off the road.

The "Big Blockade" at Faslane - a naval yard dedicated to the maintenance of the UK strategic nuclear weapons system Trident - is fast becoming a major event in the protest diary. Four vans of people went up from the Manchester area to join over a thousand others, more than doubling last years numbers.

The police are out in numbers too, with hired transport, and applying all the peculiarities of "Scots' Law", which apparently means there is no need to bother with any arrest procedure, such as offering a caution or informing anyone that they are under arrest. They also have some new toys for breaking blockades such as a circular saw that "disnae cut your skin" but rips through an arm lock tube in seconds.

385 people got nicked including an MP, an MSP, an MEP and a QC, the numbers fully disabling Glasgow's police stations. There are still 165 arrested people from the previous year for the courts to process. The judicial system is now pretty jammed up and the protests will continue until the submarines are scrapped.

Faslane Peace Camp, Shandon, Helensburgh, G84 8NT (01436 820 901,

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© Networking Newsletter (April 2001)