Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Crisis in Camp: Activists Split over Barring Police

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Crisis in Camp: Activists Split over Barring Police

Article excerpt

Miranda Bryant and Terry Kirby PROTESTERS have barred police from their Climate Camp site at Blackheath.

The activists, who say they take all decisions by consensus, have decided not to allow police to conduct what they term "community liaison" with the camp.

Before establishing the camp earlier this week, the activists refused to divulge its location to police and are now split over whether to allow officers onsite. Some are demanding that police take down the CCTV cameras on a cherry picker overlooking the camp.

Police have told Lewisham council officials they should be accompanied by officers if they visit the site. The camp is split into 10 geographical "neighbourhoods" such as "South Coast", "Midlands", and "Thames Valley".

The London neighbourhood is the biggest contingent. There are also different teams dealing with legal, medical, land and planning issues.

Neighbourhoods are split between those who think allowing police on to the camp would encourage better relations and those who are distrusting after violent police encounters, such as the G20 demonstrations in April.

A spokesman for Climate Camp said: "We will meet with the police, and we will talk to the police, but we will do it outside the camp. Many people at the camp have suffered violence, harassment and intimidation at the hands of the police, at events such as the Kingsnorth camp and the G20 protests. Although the police have not used these tactics at this camp so far, that doesn't mean that we are suddenly going to start trusting them."

Police said they would continue dialogue with Climate Camp.

According to sources, the running of the camp is thought to have cost [pounds sterling]20,000, mainly found through fundraising and donations -- [pounds sterling]10 to [pounds sterling]15 is suggested from campers. Mark Constantine, co-founder of soap firm Lush, has sent them Happy Hippy Shower Gel. It is also thought that activists who have won compensation claims against police after their wrongful arrest at earlier protests have donated money.

Group Activist Tat Collective have turned vegetable oil drums into cookers and use wheelie-bins for recycling and compost. Hay bales have been used to create "manure lavatories".

Follow our Climate Camp reporter at: twitter.com/ standardnews THE KEY PROTESTERS Mark Brown, 44, has been a leading figure in the eco-protest movement for more than a decade after being acquitted of organising the 1999 City protests that caused damage valued at [pounds sterling]2 million.

Mr Brown, a vegan, is a member of the Vestey family, which made about [pounds sterling]750 million from wholesale of meat. He was educated at Radley College.

He was involved in anti-roads protests in the Nineties and last year forced Shell to abandon sponsorship of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year show. …

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