Trident Ploughshares Blockade at Aldermaston.
Earlier this week I was at the Atomic Weapons Establishment(A.W.E.) at Aldermaston in leafy Berkshire, in order to take part in a non-violent blockade organised by Trident Ploughshares.About 10 of us set out on the Monday for Reading, where we would be staying the night. We arrived late in the evening, thanks to the Easter holiday traffic, to find some 50-60 odd activists all hard at work plotting, scheming and rehearsing for the following days actions. After a hastily devoured meal, we got ourselves organised, and assumed roles for the blockade. After planning to get myself arrested, I found that it would be impractical as I was the only designated driver for the minibus we had hired! I had to contend myself with the role of getaway driver!
The Police were outside when we awoke, and they followed us closely as soon as we left. Sure enough, within about 15 minutes we got the flashing-blue-light treatment and were pulled over. This was not good news, as I had in my bus the arrestables for the boilerhouse gate, who were sitting in the back nursing an arsenal of lock-on tubes! A Policeman beckoned me out of the bus. He informed me that under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act, he was entitled to pull over “any car, at any time, for any reason“. I do not recall him explaining his particular reason. Fortunately they did not search the bus, and the Police allowed me on my way after taking my details and checking my documents. He asked where I was going, as if he did not know, and when I told him I was going to Aldermaston to take part in a peaceful demonstration against illegal nuclear weapons, he said ‘so long as it isn’t violent’. And thus began this Officer’s education in the non-violent principles inherent in Trident Ploughshares actions.
Anyway, we got to Aldermaston with the Police still on our tail like a smell you can’t shake. With the Police so close, the original plan of stopping at the gates to allow those blocking to hop out and lock-on was likely to be thwarted as soon as attempted. Plan B was hastily conceived on an Esso forecourt under the watchful eye of the Thames Valley Constabulary. We pulled out and headed for the Boilerhouse Gate. As we approached, we noticed that some of our colleagues were already there making a vivid, and colourful presence with banners and music. Traffic was slowing, and the Police were still behind us. Thirty yards or so from the gate, I stopped, and out jumped the brave S, to stand in the road in front of the Police car, arms out-stretched like Jesus, allowing me to nip on nearer the gates to dump my other passengers and cargo unimpeded. And as you can see from the photo above, it worked a treat. It took me an hour to walk back after I had found somewhere to park the bus! Still, it gave me a chance to check out the scenery, and see the traffic chaos that the actions at our gate, and elsewhere at other gates, was causing. A lot of people work at Aldermaston it seems, certainly a great deal of construction work is going on. And was going on long before the parliamentary vote on Trident replacement took place.
I believe 14 people were arrested during the actions on Tuesday. All of whom will take to court the argument that they are acting to prevent crime, not cause it. This blog salutes them.
Apart from delays, little actual harm came to the dastardly activities beyond the electric fences of Aldermaston nuclear weapons factory. But we made some ripples, we publicised the issue, and raised awareness, and that will have to do for now, until we have enough numbers to shut these places for good.
They are preparing for horrific crimes at Aldermaston, and we the people have a right, if not a duty, to try and stop them. They are after all our government, representing us. And if we do nothing, they will drag us with them into barbarity and genocide.
This action was one of a hundred ways you can protest against possession of nuclear weapons, but by god, it has to be the most fun! And the most inspiring and invigourating. Almost without fail, the most interesting and jolly-well-decent people I meet, are anti-nuclear activists. It is always a pleasure to spend time with such sincere and honest souls, to compare notes, to exchange tips, tales and jokes, to create music, share food, and make contacts.
Sure beats sitting at home writing letters, or indignant emails and blogs!