PEACE CAMP DETERMINED TO STAY –as London Mayor Johnson seeks their eviction

The Queen’s carriage being driiven past the peace camp for the state opening of parliament
The Queen’s carriage being driiven past the peace camp for the state opening of parliament

The Peace Camp in Parliament Square was brutally raided by armed police at 8am on Tuesday morning and its leaders were arrested and dragged away.

On the morning of the Queen’s Speech, Met Police, accompanied by dogs, went in early in anticipation of mass protests over their actions.

Brian Haw has been camped in Parliament Square opposite the Houses of Parliament since 2001, protesting against United Nations sanctions on Iraq and against the Iraq and Afghan Wars.

Barbara Tucker, who joined the camp several years ago, was also arrested.

In 2007, Haw won a legal battle to remain in place.

Mark was the first to tell News Line exactly what happened.

‘At 6am the police attempted to search every tent on the site with dogs.

‘A number of people took exception to this, some had suffered police brutality under the pretext of a search in the past.

‘These included Brian and Barbara. They were arrested at 8am and accused of some form of obstruction.

‘The “dialogue” between the police and Brian and Barbara involved the police declaring, whether they liked it or not, they were going to invade their homes.

‘Brian and Barbara said they wouldn’t accept it, furnishing the police with times and places when they had suffered brutality under the pretext of a search in the past.’

George continued: ‘The inspector asked Brian to open up his tent. Brian refused. The inspector became riled and Brian was arrested and his hands were shackled behind his back.

‘Brian has vertebrae injuries which would have been exacerbated by this. Brian also claimed that the acting inspector was responsible for his vertebrae injuries at an earlier time.

‘We know that Boris Johnson wants this place cleared, but there is a determination to stay.’

Carl, aged 25, added: ‘I’m here because I believe the government and police must be accountable.

‘I believe there should be an end to all wars, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq.

‘I believe in a call for unity, peace and justice and true equality for all.

‘This morning the police announced that they planned to come inside, search all the tents, and bring dogs on site.

‘They turned up with their dogs and searched our tents. But Brian and Barbara wouldn’t co-operate.

‘He wouldn’t let them search his home and nor would Barbara. Brian has lived here for several years and so has she.

‘They ended up dragging him away without his crutches, his hands cuffed behind his back, him still screaming.

‘It was quite hard to watch, it was terribly upsetting.

‘When you’re standing up for freedom and justice and you have a man who has spent years campaigning against the war in Iraq, you just want to do something to help.

‘There were between ten and 20 police involved in arresting Brian with many more, some toting machine guns, just a few yards away, on the perimeter.’

Tracy Chumleigh was dressed as the Queen, and had people in fits with her dry depiction.

‘Who’s going to flag me down when I’m a bit hot?’ she asked drily, waving her fan.

Tracy told News Line: ‘I’ve been here for three weeks. I’ve come to support the fight to get out of Afghanistan. There’s a lot of money in this war. It’s all about oil.

‘I’ve been appointed queen for the day and our new national anthem will be – “we’re going to live like common people”.’

Georgia, aged 19, said: I’m from Italy. When I first saw the camp here I wanted to be part of it.

‘It’s not only Afghanistan, it’s the combination of what’s going on in the Middle East, with Israel displacing people.

‘I want my opinion heard. I do not agree with thousands of innocent deaths. We all want to change the world.’

Charlotte, aged 21, said: ‘I’ve been here on and off since May Day and I love it here.

‘I’m at uni, doing a degree in social work and I’ve also got a part-time job.

‘The reason I’m here is that more than 70 per cent of people want an end to the war in Afghanistan and over 90 per cent of Afghan civilians do as well.’

Can, aged 18, said: ‘I’m here because I’m opposed to the government’s foreign policy.

‘It’s an illegal war and an unwinnable war, although being an unwinnable war is neither here nor there in some respects, because it’s wrong, that’s the main thing.’

Another Charlotte, aged 22, said: ‘I felt really bad for Brian Haw. He needs his crutches to walk, but they dragged him across the square.

‘He was screaming “I need my crutches”, but they just picked him up, first two officers either side of him, with handcuffs behind his back – he was screaming with pain.

‘Then two more officers picked up his legs and carried him out, face down like an animal, it was terrible.

‘A couple of people tried to lie down in front of them, but they just walked round them and threatened them with arrest.’

Jules, a veteran of the peace camp, said: ‘Brian and Babs think that what happened was actually all about removing them today.

‘It seems so odd that they chose to search the tents today. Of course they are going to obstruct because they are treated so differently.

‘We are very worried about them, but they won’t be put off.

‘Brian will always think that whatever they do to him is nothing compared to the suffering endured by the victims of these wars.’

Equity member Michael Culver told News Line: ‘Brian has been here 10 years and I’ve been supporting him for 10 years.

‘Presumably they thought he had a bomb in his tent,’ Culver added sarcastically.

The Mayor of London’s office claimed Mayor Boris Johnson had nothing to do with the raid, but declared that he was seeking to apply to the High Court over the camp.

‘The mayor respects the right to demonstrate, however the scale and impact of the protest is now doing considerable damage to the square and preventing its peaceful use by other Londoners – including those who may wish to have an authorised protest,’ a spokesman claimed.

‘As a result he has given GLA officers the authority to apply to the High Court to begin legal proceedings for trespass.’

Councillor Colin Barrow, Leader of Westminster City Council, backed Johnson’s legal action.

‘We felt that the hijacking of Parliament Square, one of London’s historic public spaces, needed to be brought to an end,’ Barrow said.