Camp diary 2007

IssueJune 2008
Feature by Lisa Tozer

I had known about the climate camp for quite a while but hadn’t decided I was going to go until the last minute. I was nervous as I have never been involved in any protests and wondered if it would be really clique-y or maybe I didn’t understand enough about politics to really join in.

From the moment I arrived with my partner Chris we were met by an enthusiastic couple who already been working for 13 hours that day and were more than happy to welcome us to the camp and explain how things worked.
After setting up our tent we explored the camp and found it to be extremely well-organised and signed up for a few shifts of “cop watch” - escorting police around the site to ensure they didn’t overstep the guidelines negotiated when the camp was set up.
We soon found ourselves making a banner for the march the next day. The evening was rounded off with comedy at the main tent and a nice cuppa.
We spent Sunday morning watching various meetings, which was really interesting as the camp is run without any hierarchies and all decisions are made by consensus. For the camp to be that efficient showed it was effective - though not without its problems, we realised as we watched the debates heat up!
Finally it was time to set out for the march and spirits were high, and there was a wide mix of people - hardcore anarchists, local residents, children and the elderly.
I was amazed at the volume of police there to escort a peaceful protest. They’re an intimidating sight with their uniforms, large black gloves and batons.
A few people on bicycles tried to get past the police and were pushed back and that’s about as rowdy as the protesters got. The next moment, I was shocked to see riot police running towards us. We chanted: “Shame on you”. Thankfully, they had the sense to run the other way.
Finally, we were allowed to march into the local town after the local MP negotiated our entry. Now we got to hear from some of the local residents who were fighting to save their homes and their communities, and who had so many thanks to give to all those that were there. I felt proud to be there.
Soon we were rushing back to start our first shift of cop watch. After dealing with some of the attitudes of the police at the march I was surprised to find them friendly and helpful.
Then we heard that a friend of ours had joined the protesters who made a run for the BAA offices, had taken a beating by the riot police and was being held in custody.
The following day we were stopped and searched on our way to the BAA offices under the new terrorism laws. They tried to take our personal details though, due to good communication, we knew our rights and refused to give them.
At the BAA offices people were tired after being up all night. Morale was kept up with cups of tea and even a large steaming bowl of porridge - met with a grateful song: “porridge for the people….”
Soon it was time for us to head back for our last shift of cop watch. Our experience of climate camp was finished off nicely by helping to load bales of straw full of pee onto the back of a lorry.
I left feeling tired and, more importantly, inspired! I would recommend it to anyone who may be nervous about getting involved.