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(en) Freedom 6403 8 Feb, 2003 - Weaknesses exposed

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 19 Mar 2003 09:19:56 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

Over a thousand protesters gathered in the sleepy
village of Fairford, near Swindon, on 26th January. The
protest was called by Gloucester Weapons Inspectors
(GWI), who turned up in force in their white overalls
and home-made detection equipment. They were
supported by others from as far away as Wales and
London. With many flags and banners, they marched
the three miles to RAF Fairford, one of three bases
used by the USAF B2 'Stealth' bomber, and the only
one in Europe.

Despite an earlier announcement that Fairford had
been 'activated' for war, there was no sign of these
American weapons of mass destruction and, apart from
one jeep, no sign of US security personnel either. Once
again British cops were doing the dirty work. At the
main entrance to the base, a theatrical demand to be
let in was made, followed by a mass die-in as a
home-made B2 plane flew, or at least ran, amok.

There were speakers from the GWI, as well as former
Greenham Common stalwarts Ann Pettit and Helen
John, who called on opponents of the forthcoming war
to buy paint and spray cans in order to take their
message to every wall and every base in Britain. There
were also suggestions that a peace camp could be set
up at Fairford and that weekly demonstrations might
be held.

Then the real fun began, as many protesters set off
round the perimeter to test the base's defences. In
fact, with thirteen miles of fence to patrol, there are
many weak points where people could act virtually
unseen. But most protesters only went a short distance
and were soon breaching the wire, either by cutting it
or by climbing over using thick padding.

Fifty or more got through at various times and, after
being arrested and briefly detained, were escorted
back out the way they'd come. There were no reports
of damage to any military hardware. Later, there was a
scuffle with cops near a hole in the fence and a further
three arrests were made despite resistance from other

It's clear that Fairford will play a significant part in
the American war on Iraq. It's equally clear that the
base is far from secure, at present at least. In addition,
the cops seem prepared to handle what's often fairly
polite non-violent direct action Ğ but would they be
around in sufficient numbers to counter other forms of

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