Update: January 2007
We have now completed the 3rd month of blockades at Faslane. 42 Blockading Groups have covered 59 days with a variety of banners, lock-ons, witnessing, singing and poetry (to see each group's reports and pictures go to the Rota on the website (www.faslane365.org) and click on whichever group you are interested in). 429 people have been arrested for blockading during this time, but only 4 will be facing court, as the Procurator Fiscal has decided that the vast majority of us should be free to continue our nonviolent disruption of the unlawful activities at Faslane! See Legal Support Notes below. How long our 'immunity' will last is debatable but we urge you all to make full use of the freedom it gives us to continue blockading.
Policing Costs and Disruption to Locals
According to the Helensburgh Advertiser, who asked a question under the Freedom of Information Act, it cost £1.75 million to police the first month alone! We do not consider that our nonviolent disruption of preparations for mass murder should be policed at all and continue to call upon the police to investigate the crimes going on inside Faslane and to help us put an end to war crime preparations.
There has also been constant reporting in the same local newspaper of discontent about the blockades causing long delays on the road that leads past the base, including school buses and locals trying to get to work, shop or go to the hospital. Not all of the delays have been our responsibility but some undoubtedly have been, as quite a few of the blockades have been very effective at preventing unlawful traffic getting into the base and, while the blockaders are being cut out of their lock-ons, taken down off their tripods, out of huge CND symbols, off their locked bikes, prised from their dancing partners arms, the tailbacks have sometimes reached right back into Helensburgh.
Whilst Blockading Groups presumably are not intending to disrupt the lawful life of the community it is inevitable that the more effective blockades will cause some local people some disruption. The Steering Group have suggested to the police and through them to the base, that the work hours be changed so that the blockades will be finished by the time most local people are on the move to work and school. The 7,000 workers enter through the South and North Gates at Faslane between 6.30a.m. and 8a.m. each week-day morning and between 4.30p.m. and 6p.m. each evening. If the traffic went in at 5.30a.m. in the morning and left at 2p.m. in the afternoon then the disruption to local people not working at the base would be minimal.
However, bearing in mind the number of local people working at the base there is bound to be quite a bit of local discontent. Hopefully, everyone will be able to empathise with the dilemma of workers who have never before considered that their jobs might be criminal and who need to work to support their families. However, it may now be time for a real debate about whether servicing a base whose prime aim is the threat of mass destruction can now be considered a normal or acceptable job and whether any responsible society can permit these 'jobs' to continue. There are many important and worthwhile jobs that could be created with the wasted money that finances the Faslane Naval Base and which could contribute to building a better society rather than destroying it. Anyway, whatever our views on these issues please be aware that some local feelings are running high and that our nonviolence guidelines should enable us all to stay courteous and nonviolent even if confronted with angry locals. So far, groups have faced very little local hostility and we hope that this continues.
The local concerns about children being late or even missing school will obviously increase during the exam period in May. Faslane365 will continue throughout this time but you may want to consider blockading in such a way as to reduce the impact on the school children. The exams last from Monday 30 April to Friday 8 June inclusive although we think that the Helensburgh school doesn’t do any of the subjects in the last week. The school buses pass Faslane around 8.30am and school starts at 8.55am. If you want more information before picking your dates please contact the Steering Group.
The Faslane 365 Steering Group have continued to have frequent discussions with the Strathclyde and MoD police to discuss issues that have arisen. We have continued to state that we cannot and would not negotiate on behalf of autonomous groups but will pass information back and forth. The Strathclyde and the Mod Police whilst still not recognizing their own role in propping up criminal activities at Faslane and whilst not being willing to confront the State on its breaches of international humanitarian law, nevertheless are appreciative of our commitment to nonviolence and, like us, wish to make sure that no-one gets hurt and that our right to protest is maintained. They have, however, been particularly concerned about blockades being established on the main roads, rather than at the gates, and especially concerned at the 'barricades' as they have termed them (the use of the concrete filled barrel lock-ons, for instance) that took almost 3 hours to clear. We have continued to observe, and feed-back to them, that if Blockading Groups feel they are unable to blockade the actual gates (because of the heavy police presence) then they may well feel entitled to blockade the roads (as close to the gates as they are able to get) in order to disrupt the unlawful activities of the Faslane Base.
Blockading Groups would do well to check on the police presence before they blockade in order to try to keep the blockading as near to the gated entrances to the base as possible rather than just assuming they have no chance of getting to the gates. Please call your Steering Group Liaison person or the Steering Group phone (07768-312676) if you want up-to date information.
Some of the more symbolic blockades (the Clergy and Iona Block or the Power of the Word and Song Block for instance) have been policed in such a way as to allow the blockaders to get to the gate and be there for a little while before being arrested. Those Blockading Groups who have blocked the North and South Gates simultaneously with effective lock-ons are of course the groups that the police have most 'difficulty' with and that we are most delighted with! The police are obviously being subjected to considerable pressure from the base to keep the gates open and from the public to keep the roads unblocked. Our 'confrontation' in its diverse forms is raising the pressure and this is beginning to be felt, not only by the police but also by the base personnel and the politicians. We need to keep the pressure up and if possible raise it whilst keeping calm and nonviolent.
It might be interesting for you to know that the Christmas Crackers Blockading Group were approached by the police to see if they might cancel their blockade and thus allow more police to take time off to be with their families over Xmas. The Group therefore negotiated and reached agreement that if the main North Gate could be closed over the 3 days then they would stay there and not attempt to close the South Gate as well, you can read more about this by looking at the website report on the Christmas Crackers Block.
Safety issues need to be stressed over and over again. Please bear in mind that we do not want anyone to be hurt or to cause any accidents on the roads. Consider having a couple of people, wearing high visibility vests, on each side of the road to slow down traffic and keep watch over the blockaders. Put yourself in the place of the driver and imagine what they are feeling and are able to do, don't just dart out and expect the vehicle to notice you in time to slow down.
Faslane 365 is starting to attract much more media attention but this could be greatly enhanced by more Blockading Groups taking pictures and getting our their reports on the day of the action, minutes or hours, rather than days, after the action. Try and make sure you have a dedicated press person with a laptop and digital camera who can put out the press releases plus a picture while it is all happening. Do contact local and national media a few days before you arrive to line up radio and TV interviews etc. If you need access to an internet connection then contact the Steering Group to see if they can direct you to one of our local supporters who might be able to let you use their internet connection for an hour or two.
Also note that Faslane 365 has now been made an action topic within UK Indymedia http://www.indymedia.org.uk Anyone can publish their report and photos, video footage etc. to Indymedia and if they tick the box for Faslane, then all the reports will be kept together in one big action topic.
Mobilising for new Blockading Groups
We need your help to find new people and groups to take on a Block in the Blockading Rota. Please talk about your experiences if you have already done a Block and either book another date in the Rota and/or find new groups and encourage them to take responsibility for keeping the blockades going. The Steering Group have provided a structure and support but it is a joint responsibility to keep the Rota going. The impact of civil resistance depends on sustaining it at a great enough pressure for long enough to effect change. We have made a great start but need to sustain the pressure and not give up until we know that Trident will be dismantled and there will be no replacement of WMD. There is a great need for groups to come along in April and May (around the Scottish elections) and then in June and July (to remind the newly elected representatives of their responsibilities under international humanitarian law). If you know of groups who would like to hear about Faslane 365 and you cannot provide a speaker yourself then do pass on the contact details to us so we can find someone to go along. If you can think of magazines and newsletters where we should be inserting our new leaflet then again please let us know.
Secret Dates for the Rota
Numbers in Blockading Groups
As you may have noticed most Blocks have numbered around 40 to 50 people (the smallest was 1 and the largest 90 so far. This is not the 100 we had originally envisaged. We think it is important to continue to aim for 100 plus blockaders and keep the vision but to recognise that each blockading group has its own character, shape and a life of its own. The important thing is to keep the blockades coming, to train more and more people in nonviolent resistance and empower more people to come along. So do not be put off if you can only get a few people to come along – there are plenty of dates left free in the Rota, so please do join in.
Great Gathering of Blockading Groups
Some groups have suggested a big get together event at the end of the year - possibly a weekend event culminating in a Big Blockade - Sat 29th to Sun 30th September for a Conference/Workshops on 'Where now after 365 days of blockading?' and Mon 1st October a Big Blockade! This would be a Celebration and also incorporate action planning on how to build more effective civil resistance (if this is still needed by then!). It is an attractive thought to bring all the groups together to get a feeling of our strength and share ideas and knowledge but it could be a non-blockade in that the police are likely to just close the base for the day like they did for the 1,000 plus people who turned up for the G8 blockade in the summer of 2005. Also, the idea of Faslane 365 is sustainable long-term blockading pressure, not a one-off event, so it would be a shame if people went away thinking that was it!. However, if groups think it is something they want to happen then maybe a few would like to take on the organising of it? Let us know what you think and if you want to help organise it.
Meanwhile, you might like to consider combining the strengths of different groups. Have a look at the blockading group reports on the website and see if there are other groups you feel an affinity with or with whom you would like to combine forces with. Several groups could take on the North and some others the South Gate for instance.......you just need to liaise over when and how, to make sure the blockades complement each other for maximum disruption......if you want advice or contact details let us know.
Please also consider booking another date in the Rota if you have already done your first block. Most groups said they had learnt a lot in their first blockade, so why not put that experience to good use and do another block?
Cards/badges and t-shirts
We have produced a set of 4 cards in colour with envelopes. £2 per pack (inclusive of p&p). The cards have been produced in order to raise awareness of Faslane 365 and to raise funds. The cards are a collage of the different banners that have been brought to the Faslane 365 blockades during the first 2 months (October and November) and also include a photo of one blockade. Each of the 4 cards contains different banners and photos and is blank inside so that they can be used as general greetings cards. We will produce another set as the months go by and maybe by the end of the year we will have a set of 12 different cards. If you want to order some then please contact cards at faslane365 dot org and include your name and address and number of packs required. Make cheques payable to 'Faslane365' and send to Valley Farmhouse, East Runton, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9PN. Once your cheque had been received the cards will be mailed to you.
Some Blockading Groups have asked whether we have a t-shirt or badges. We have not had time to do these but if any of you would like to do so then please go ahead and let us know so we can include information in our next update.
Can you support a long-distance runner?
Dr David Kirkland wants to support Faslane 365 and attract media coverage. He is an experienced long distance runner, competing at county standard,and wants to run from the Scottish border to Faslane to lie in front of the gate. He wants people to contact him who might be willing to put him up overnight, lend him a (lightweight) white poppy costume, or help him maximise the publicity. He also wonders if someone might be willing to travel up to Faslane with him to each overnight and rest stop, and then back south with him. He has already booked holiday off work and wants to run sometime between the 20th and 26th of January so if any of you can help him please do contact him on dkirklandone at hotmail dot com
Legal Support Notes
Prosecutions - Three people so far have been released with undertakings to appear at Helensburgh District Court. They all had difficult lock-ons and have now pled not guilty to Breach of the Peace. They were put on bail (a condition of which is to not commit any offence otherwise they could be charged with breach of bail).
One other person has receive a citation to Helensburgh District Court after her fourth arrest since Oct 1st. She can put in a plea by post. Please let us know if you hear anything from the Court so we can keep everyone up to date.
Procurator Fiscal will return all property when not prosecuting – the items removed from blockades which could be potentially used as evidence have been taken to Dumbarton Police Station. We discovered that the Procurator Fiscal had given an instruction to the Productions Officer there to destroy all lock-on material: tubes, clips, D-locks, chains etc. The Faslane 365 Legal Working Group wrote to the PF to explain why he couldn’t just take peoples property and destroy it without even a court case. In fact even after conviction it is only the court that can order that your property should be destroyed, not the PF. We have received a reply from the PF that from now on people will have the opportunity to collect their property if they are not being prosecuted.
Some of you may have already received letters from Thomas Kane, the Productions Officer, about this. We spoke to him this week and he acknowledges that as many people come from some distance away and that there is a two month time limit to collecting property we can simplify things by nominating a couple of local people who can collect items on behalf of others. If you want us to help with this please send the letter you received from the police and an authorisation letter along the lines below to Olivia Agate, 1 up right, 41 East Clyde St, Helensburgh G84 7NY. It would be helpful if you could also let us know how big or heavy the things are and whether you want us to hold on to them for you or if we can recycle them to other blockaders. Obviously some things are pretty useless – like lock-on tubes with holes in so we would prefer you to let the police get rid of those. Small items could be posted to you if you refund the postage. Please contact us as soon as you can so we have time to arrange collection before it’s too late.
If you had things taken and have not heard about them from the police you could write to the Productions Officer at the address below or try phoning on his direct line 01389 822063 (7am – 3pm Monday – Thursday). It seems unlikely that any lock-on material from before 11 November is still there, though banners, costumes etc. might be.
If you have any questions about this then you can contact Jane on the Legal Support Phone 07768-312678 or email her on legalworkinggroup at faslane365 dot org
To Thomas Kane
Strathclyde Police Headquarters
Thank you for the letter informing me that you are releasing my property.
I am unable to collect it myself.
The property I wish to collect consists of:-
I authorise either of the following people to collect it on my behalf :-
1 up right, 41 East Clyde St
Ground floor, 65 Sinclair St