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UK, Mass Dale Farm walkout: "you can't take away our dignity"

UK, Mass Dale Farm walkout: "you can't take away our dignity"

Residents confront police as evictions begin (Dale Farm, UK, 19 10 2011)(Peter Macdiarmid-Getty Images )

At 4.45 pm today, October 20 2011, Dale Farm residents and supporters will jointly walk off the site to begin the next stage of the battle against eviction which has been waged across courts, barricades and protests. The decision to leave together was made in order to show the unity of the residents and supporters after two months of supporter presence at Dale Farm through Camp Constant.

Resident Mary Sheridan said, "Leaving with supporters today is about our own dignity and our appreciation of the support we’ve received. We’re leaving together as one family, and we are proud of that- you can't take away our dignity”.

UK, Mass Dale Farm walkout: "you can't take away our dignity"

The main gate, a number of activists remained chained to the overhead gantry (Dale Farm, UK, 19 10 2011) (Peter Macdiarmid-Getty Images)

The mass walk-out leaves the site free of people except legal observers, who are required to make sure that the bailiffs stick to the letter of the law in leaving the walls, fences and most of the hardstanding in place.

Now the Travellers are outside the Dale Farm site, the legacy of Tory Councillor Tony Ball and local MP John Baron who drove the forced eviction to conclusion is laid bare. Where will these families go?  How will their needs be met? The Travellers' and supporters’ next move  remains to be decided. Mr Ball and Mr Baron have declined to respond when asked for advice on what the Dale Farm community should do now.

Ali Saunders, a Dale Farm supporter added, “We have held off eviction for over a month, and our sense of togetherness  has been amazing. Anyone who has visited the community cannot fail to see the importance of a movement to promote the rights of Travellers. Dale Farm will have a legacy for years to come.”

UK, Mass Dale Farm walkout: "you can't take away our dignity"

Flames engulf a caravan during eviction (Dale Farm, UK, 19 10 2011) (Oli Scarff-Getty Images)

A new group, the Traveller Solidarity Network [1] , has emerged in recent weeks, in response to the Dale Farm crisis.

Ali Saunders continued, “The Dale Farm forced eviction showed that the UK's reputation for tolerance is a smokescreen for systematic discrimination against a Travellers because of their ethnicity and culture. That’s why groups from Amnesty International to the United Nations opposed the forced eviction.

UK, Mass Dale Farm walkout: "you can't take away our dignity"

An activist holds up a placard in front of a police line during evictions (Dale Farm, UK, 19 10 2011)(Peter Macdiarmid-Getty Images)

Dale Farm has brought the ingrained prejudice against Travellers into public view, from constant rejections of planning permission, to hostile local authorities, to violent evictions.  The true long-term impact of Dale Farm will be a movement of travellers and supporters to change attitudes so travelling people can live in peace and not be criminalised.”

[1]  http://travellersolidarity.org/

Media enquiries: +44 07040900905-07583761462

Twitter: @letdalefarmlive



Dale Farm, Legacy of resistance and solidarity

Dale Farm, in Crays Hill, Essex, is the UK’s largest Travellers’ community, consisting of nearly a hundred separate properties, lying well outside the village and made up of extended family plots or yards.
 Most are owned by Travellers of Irish heritage, although some Romani families also own yards. The estate is divided in two sections, the front part (about 45 plots) has planning permission; while the back part (52 plots) despite numerous applications and appeals, has been refused planning consent, even though the site was previously a disused scrap yard. According to the Commission on Racial Equality, 90% of traveller planning applications are initially rejected compared to 20% overall.
 In the early morning of Wednesday 19th October 2011 the police began a violent process of eviction, lasted two days due to the resistance and solidarity, in which many people, both travellers and supporters, were injured and arrested. Families have been traumatised by this eviction, knowing that once it is over they are condemned to homelessness, with nowhere else to go.

Since Dale Farm residents declared that most of them would remain at Dale Farm for as long as possible, supporters agreed to stay for as long as the community is resisting.

So, Dale Farm residents and supporters remained defiant, in solidarity, in the face of police and bailiff presence.

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