The general consensus of the demonstration was that it was a complete success. People have been campaigning against the laboratory now called Sequani for decades and 200 souls braved the rain to denounce vivisection, to show solidarity with Sean Kirtley and to make it clear to the police and their masters in Whitehall that we will not allow them to stop protest unchallenged. For those not already aware West Mercia spent millions suppressing ANY protest at Sequani and attempted to imprison not just Sean but his 5 co-defendants who were acquitted, (Dave accepted a plea bargain). We are under no illusions that if the 6 had either pleaded guilty or been found guilty that the next 5 defendants would have been imprisoned if possible as well. It would then have been open season on anyone protesting against vivisection (including those who choose to focus on scientific arguments eg EFMA), closely followed by any other protesters who upset those in power. Bear in mind the Secretary of State can apply SOCPA 145 and 146 to ANY demonstration, there need not be a debate in Parliament. We are under no illusions that once the police have come up with a good plan of action (it may take some time.) they may try once more to shut us up in this locality with dawn raids and silly charges.
The “carnival” began some people meeting on the grass verge, others walking around the back fields, others refusing to stand where they were told. Fitwatchers (many thanks) blocked cameras and the vast majority of activists refused to be served with what were found out later to be section 14 notices. This meant that officers resorted to chasing people (even passers by) with bits of paper. In addition to playing tag they even stopped the train at the station detaining all passengers to serve the notices prior to people getting off the train according to the Ledbury reporter.
Those on the verge opposite the station reached a consensus that it would be a good idea to turn left towards the labs and a dash was made down the Bromyard road. The police responded (albeit slowly) and blocked the activists, arrested a couple of people and hit others. After a short while a large group ran towards the back fields via the road out of Ledbury. Others decided to go on the police approved march, only the police had changed their minds! They blocked our way into Ledbury and so activists went on to join the others down the road. A footpath was made good use of but unfortunately only 20 activists made it through with 2 evidence gatherers who were pleading for backup. The 20 made it through Ledbury to Sequani Clinical where they do human trials testing shampoo, face creams etc which have been animal tested. A decision was made after a quick demo there to go back and on returning to the Homeend all activists joined up for a big lively demo’ through Ledbury (the police had decided to let us march after all). To the best of our knowledge this is the largest march in Ledbury for a least a decade. On the Ledbury Portal (a local website) a local can be heard saying that they never see a police officer in the town when they are needed. Roads were blocked for most of the day by police.
West Mercia police, government, Netcu and the FIT teams had it clearly demonstrated to them that if they persecute us that we are not afraid to fight back. Indeed, considering that prior to 2006 demonstrations rarely went into double figures the promises made to Sequani by operation Tornado about getting rid of us all have been shattered.
The Hereford Journal reported that to actually police the demo’ West Mercia persuaded Hereford United football team to play on the Friday night instead of Saturday afternoon. This is regrettable for the football fans ordinary folk who may have had their enjoyment of the game curtailed possibly to cause resentment against us. However Hereford united are sponsored by Cargill a really nasty company who kill millions of chickens for McDonalds, force GMOs into the marketplace, destroy rainforests, etc, etc, none of us were too upset for them, they were also visited by activists who had an impromptu picnic outside the abattoir thus disrupting a shift change.
According to the police “the purpose of the assembly is part of an ongoing campaign to intimidate staff working at Sequani with an intention to force closure”. WRONG, the purpose of campaigning against that hell hole is to stop animals being tortured to death, to stop corporations medicalising normal human conditions, to stop pollutants being forced on us, to stop people dying from poorly tested medications for example Zyban, Baycol and because we defend the right of the ordinary person to question the corporations and government. We do not care if Sequani does scientific research on medications and other essential products without torturing and killing as long as they abuse no-one so we do not necessarily want to shut them down. Our aim is to stop their violence against others for a profit, not to intimidate workers. In fact we want to remain approachable so that workers if they so wish to have the means by which to expose cruelty and any illegal practices. If anyone is intimidated by a few banners and leaflets in what is supposedly a democracy then that is pitiful. A bit like one of us saying that we feel “intimidated” by a Countryside Alliance stall in Worcester, or a McDonalds advert and expecting the police to spend 2 % of their entire years budget investigating the complaint!
Thanks to all those who came to Ledbury to show solidarity especially to those who are usually embroiled with other very important campaigns.
We will be having a demonstration at Sequani at Halloween 16.00 onwards for all who want to come. We will do some food this time. Wear costumes, bring your own banners regarding SOCPA if you want to. We will be able to provide some accommodation just ring us. As the next day is November 1st we will be doing something then as well in the area.