Yesterday, Greater Manchester Police put out a press statement accusing anti-fracking campaigners at the Barton Moss Community Protection site of everything, from firing a flare at the police helicopter to harassing local people.
The statement argued that "the majority of people who are arriving on the site are not there to protest against fracking but are there to disrupt and intimidate the local community and to antagonise police…"
See the full statement on previous Salford Star article – click here
This afternoon, the Barton Moss Camp put out its own press statement…
"In response to the GMP's statement on 23/01/14 (we do apologise for the delay in response but we at camp do prefer to check our facts before releasing press statements) we would like to raise the following points.
1. The reference to the alleged firing of a flare at a police helicopter: the camp have requested on numerous occasions that some form of evidence (recorded radio chatter, film footage etc) be released to prove this allegation. So far no such evidence has surfaced.
2. The jumping from trees onto moving lorries: this has come about due to the police facilitating the cutting down of three old trees due to a tree house being built. The tree house was secured with rope only, hence it would have been quick and easy to remove without causing damage to the trees. This means the destruction of the trees was a violent act against the British countryside.
We at camp put the safety of each member of the camp and the wider community in Salford and Manchester at the front of any actions we take. At no point did any of the protectors attempt to jump down onto moving lorries. This would be a reckless act and in direct violation of the safer space policy of the camp and the everyday ethos of the protectors of the camp.
3. Arrests: in the GMP's statement they tout arrests as proof of guilt. This is not how it works in British law as we have the luxury in this country of being ''innocent until proven guilty'' and seeing as no case has come to full trial (and that no one has been able to enter a plea) means no one is guilty until the courts have decided.
The statistics that the police have been using (62 of the arrests are people from the south) points to blatant discrimination based on regionalism on the part of the GMP. This is not just a local issue now that the government has allowed over 60% of the country to be used for coal bed methane and shale gas extraction.
The fact that the IGas site on Barton Moss road is currently the front line in the on going campaign against fracking, where people are from does not detract from the validity or their rights to protest.
4. The claims that residents have been harassed and 'crying in public meetings': we on camp are supported by many people from the local community and have l made it clear that we are open to dialogue at all times with the local residents
We would also like to ask people to see a previous post on the slow marches of IGas employee vehicles on 23/01/14 in response to the claims of balaclava clad people threatening locals. This is in contradiction of the camp's safer space policy and any sort of threatening behaviour is not tolerated.
The fact that the this press release has surfaced after the assault of a disabled man while in a legal observer role is designed to drive a wedge between the camp and the local community. The smear campaign and intimidation of the camp has now heightened to levels that many thought was not possible. The change in tactics by the GMP has escalated to the point that an assault of this magnitude actually happened. This has brought the GMP under the microscope of media attention and has made them, rightly so, very nervous of their public image.
One other accusation that has come to light is that of protectors placing nails in potholes on 12 yards lane. This is an entirely unfounded accusation with no basis in reality. We at the camp would not do this sort of action as it is not aimed at IGas and affects all residents and users of the road. Again we do not condone violence, aggressive behaviour or intimidation of any persons.
We would like to thank the residents of the local area and further afield for the support we are being shown daily. We look forward to seeing as many of you as can make it on Solidarity Sunday on the 26th of January."
BARTON MOSS SOLIDARITY DAY
Sunday 26th January
Meet 1pm at Salford City Stadium for a march to Barton Moss Road.
Or Tiger Moth pub Irlam 12:30pm