Number 61 - August 1999

"Any movement that does not support itís prisoners is a sham movement."
(Ojore N Lutalo, anarchist prisoner).


News in Brief
Feature: Prisoner Support
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by Earth Liberation Prisoners

Prisoner support is pretty dire within the UK radical ecological resistance movement. Whether an activivst gets much support or not, largely seems to depend on whether they are well known enough within the movement. Support and solidarity for those outside of our movement, also fighting for social change and a more egalitarian future, get little attention. These pages contain a guide for helping getting started writing to prisoners and a list of just some of the people currently locked up for taking action. There is also a list of just some of the support groups that exist within the UK to support those imprisoned around the world and encourage practical solidarity, whether it be through letter writing, lobbying parole boards, raising funds for someone's defence case or simply highlighting a prisoners plight. Write to any or all of the prisoners listed, and you can also seek out more information from the support groups. Prison may no seem like it is going to be much of an issue to you,but for increasingly large sections of people, both within and outside of our movement it is a grim day to day reality they face.


One of the main problems that puts people off getting involved in supporting prisoners is a feeling of being intimidated about writing to a prisoner for the first time. It is very hard to write a letter to someone you don't know: people find that they don't know what to say, they feel there are things they can't talk about, or think that prisoners won't be interested in what they have to say. Well this is a problem most of us have had to get over, so we've drawn up some suggestions to help you. Obviously these aren't rigid guidelines, and we don't pretend to have solved all problems here. Different people will write different letters - hopefully the ideas below will be of some use.


Some prisons restrict the number of letters a prisoner can write or receive, and they may have to buy stamps and envelopes, and prisoners aren't millionaires. So don't necessarily expect a reply to a card or letter. A lot of prisons allow stamps and/or s.a.e.s to be included with a card or letter, but some don't. Letters do also get stopped, read, delayed, 'diverted'. If you suspect something has been or will be nicked by the screws, you can send it Recorded Delivery, which unfortunately costs a lot but then they have to open it in the prisoners presence. Also you should put a return address, not just so the prisoner can reply (!), but also because some prisons don't allow letters without a return address. Of course it doesn't have to be your address, but be careful using PO box numbers as some prisons don't allow this either!


Say who you are, and that you're from such and such a group if you think this is relevant. Some people reckon it's better to be upfront about your politics as well, to give prisoners the choice to stay in contact with you or not.

Say where you heard about them and their case. The first letter can be reasonably short, maybe only a postcard. Obviously when you get to know people better you'll have more to talk about. If you are writing to a "framed" prisoner, and you believe them to be innocent, it helps to say so, as it gives people confidence to know that you believe them.

Some people when they write to prisoners, are afraid to talking about their lives, what they are up to, thinking this may depress people banged up, especially prisoners with long sentences, or that they are not interested in your life. Although in some cases this may be true, on the whole a letter is the highpoint of the day for most prisoners. Prison life is dead boring, and any news that livens it up, whether it's about people they know or not, is generally welcome. Especially if you didn't know them before they went to prison, they want to know about you, what your life is like etc. Use your sense, don't write about anything that is likely to get a prisoner in shit with the screws, or get you or anyone else in trouble with the cops.


For people imprisoned from our movements and struggles it's vital to keep them involved in the ongoing resistance - telling them about actions, sending them magazines if they want them, discussing ideas and strategies with them. Use your head though. Some people will just want to keep their head down till they get out.


If you want to send books or magazines to a prisoner it is best to check the rules of the prison first, they all vary. Also write to the prisoner and find out if they want them. Some prisoners may not want inciting or subversive material sent to them as it may get them unwanted attention. Remand prisoner are usually allowed fairly regular visits of up to three people. Convicted prisoners are allowed less. To find out exact details, again, phone the prison.

This was adapted from a leaflet produced by the Anarchist Black Cross.

Further Prison Reading

Earth Liberation Prisoners, CRC, 16 Sholebroke Ave, Leeds LS7 3HB,,

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Prisoner Justice Day is an annual and international event commemorated in several countries since 1976 when it was started in Canada. It is held in remembrance of all those who have died in prison whether through suicide, murder by prison officers or other inmates, or death because of neglect and brutality.

This year there was a national demonstration on the 7th August, outside HMP Woodhill a control unit in Milton Keynes, used to house 'subversive' prisoners, who can be arbitrarily confined until they 'progress'. On the 11th prisoners from around the country took various forms of action, including 24 hour work and hunger strikes in solidarity with prisoners in Woodhill.

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In Mexico in '95, at the Claya Prison, prison guards got a bollocking after 6 prisoners escaped by jumping over the wall using a trampoline during one of their keep fit sessions.

Jean Paul Barret was serving 33 years for forgery and fraud in Tucson, Arizona until his somewhat early release in December 91 when someone faxed a fake release order to the prison. Even though it lacked a code or a phone number, they bought it. It was believed that someone got hold of a real court order, tippexed out some of the information, copied it then typed in the false release order. It was three days until anyone noticed the mistake.

On 25 June 1999, two asylum seekers detained in Campsfield Detention Centre decided to give themselves permanent admission to the UK, via a back window in the detention centre. One Russian and one Kosovan, scaled a 18 foot high fence, topped with 3 coils of barbed wire and disappeared into the country side.

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On Sunday the 18th of July the Stop the Crop rally against genetic engineering resulted in a farm-scale AgrEvo test site being destroyed. The rally was held near Watlington, in Oxfordshire and featured several speakers and musicians, some of whom urged the crowd not to trespass into the field! A soon as the speakers had finished, the several hundred protesters present calmly walked past a handful of police and into the crop. A few hours later, the greater part of it lay flattened and unharvestable, rendering the test useless.

Thames Valley police seemed unsure how to respond. A few crop-pullers were arrested during the afternoon Ė all of whom were unmasked and isolated from the main crowd, and were therefore easier targets for the police. Physical attempts were made to free those who had been arrested but with no success. As people left the test site to return to their vehicles, the police became more provocative when, having sent for reinforcements, they linked arms and used horses to intimidate the protestors, closing in on the end of a line of people who were leaving the field. A mounted policeman lifted one woman by her hair, and in front of TV cameras it was made to look as if the jubilant and good-humoured crowd was an angry and violent mob.

Most of the time, the police seemed more intent on filming the event than trying to stop the action taking place. They filmed people getting off the half-dozen coaches which arrived from all over the country. They filmed people listening to music and speeches. From a helicopter hovering over the test site they filmed people trespassing on the crop and pulling it up. What use they make of the footage remains to be seen, and several newspapers reported Thames Valley policeís intention to 'track down everyone they could find' and charge them with causing criminal damage. It seems unlikely that they will succeed in this however since most people were wearing identical white suits and masks and many had further disguised themselves with sun-glasses.

One of the rallyís organisers stated: 'The people who were at Watlington on that hot July Sunday, varied though they were in age and aspirations, were united in one respect: they knew they were fighting a desperate, bare-handed battle in a one-sided war. Ranged against them were billion-dollar interests and a deaf government... They knew that this was an historical moment - ordinary people driven to openly defy a law which protects capitalism and denies them their rights. Those who were there can be justly proud of their action. If challenged, most of them will, I suspect, be proud to say they were there and they played their part. It remains to be seen if the government takes note and finally listens to the will of the people.'

Prior to the rally a squat was established on the same estate. It features an organic garden and its existence raises the issue, demonstrates alternatives and annoys the land owner! Genetic Engineering Network: 0181 3749516.

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The second big genetics action of the month was at Spital in the Street in Lincolnshire. The crop was trashed, but the action was marred by forty-six arrests.

Unlike at Watlington two weeks before, the target was not one of the seven government listed farm scale trials, but a field of AgrEvoís GM fodder maize which already has consent to be grown throughout the European Union. This means that the government is under no obligation to inform the public, or other farmers, about where it is being grown and that it can be used in animal and livestock feeds.

Around 80 people arrived onto the site masked up in white suits (which do a really good job of disguising body shape as well as preventing transfer of pollen) and took about two hours destroying much of the crop, until police presence started to reach uncomfortable numbers and the decision was made to leave. However, the escape route involved crossing a road, and by the time the bulk of the crowd had reached that point, a police line had formed. Attempts to keep together and de-arrest those who got grabbed were successful for a while but gradually the police began to capture more and more people. At this point a number of people broke through police lines, across the road and into some woods.

Another mile across country, they managed to meet up with the convoy of getaway vehicles Ė however, all the vehicles had entered a field , and the local farmer moved in to block the exits.

Some people still managed to get away by abandoning the vehicles and running along ditches and hedgerows for miles; others stayed with the vehicles and managed to smash through hedges to escape. But many of the drivers and passengers who for one reason or another were not on the action, got arrested. All 46 arrestees were charged with conspiracy to cause criminal damage (as well as criminal damage itself). They were kept in for two days to appear in court on the Monday, when all were released on bail except three who were remanded (two of which were released following an appeal).

After the action the farmer claimed that the field was not GM after all but rather conventional maize, estimating the damage at only £2000. However, samples were laboratory tested before the action where they were confirmed to be GE, and further tests are taking place.

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Zenecaís plantation of genetically modified poplar trees, the only genetic trees left in this country after Derby Universityís apple trees were destroyed two years ago, have finally been killed. Some were ringbarked and others felled in an action timed to coincide with the start of a major conference about forest biotechnology in Oxford.

Undoubtedly the research will be set back by years and the company has claimed that it is unlikely to attempt future plantings of GM trees in this country because of resistance. However, it also claims that 48 of the trees were mature enough to pulp for paper making at Domaine University, in Grenoble, France.

There are no tree test sites left, but GM tree research takes place at several universities around Britain including Reading and Derby. Research is also taking place at the East Malling Horticultural Research Institute, the Oxford Forestry Institute and the Forestry Commission's Alice Holt Research Station. Key companies include Shell, Zeneca, Monsanto and International Paper.

There was also a protest outside the Oxford conference, on the 14th of July, its opening day. Contact or 07771 788 750.

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Groen Front! (Dutch Earth First!), who have been organising resistance to the Betuwelijn high speed rail link between Rotterdam and the Ruhr are to hold a camp on-route from the 12th - 18th September. The camp will take place in the squatted farms at 29 Wageningsestraat, about 200 meters from the railway station Zetten-Andelst on the Tiel-Arnhem line and directly next to the A15 exit. The camp starts on Sunday at 18.00 hrs with an overview of what's coming up followed by direct actions on the planned Betuwelinetrajectum for the rest of the week. There will also be excursions to other anti-Betuweline squats in Meteren and Elst. There's the possibility of building and tunnelling if you feel like it and of course there's room for discussion and fun.

For more info email, or call 0031 6 26200729 or 0031 6 21995055.

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URGENT, the Urban Regeneration and Greenfield Environmental Network, held a conference in Oxford on the 10th of July. Delegates with many different agendas came together to share ideas about the housing of the future and talk about what is going wrong now. There was discussion on how to make links between the homeless and those with alternative living visions, how to get round the prejudices of the planning system, and other topics. One of the organisers said 'the whole event paved the way for greater networking to achieve the homes that communities, not construction companies, need'. The action which was planned for the 12th, to follow the conference, was called off. However, the URGENT networking meeting, held at the conference 'decided to go for it in terms of mass mobilisations'. National protests will be put on in solidarity with local campaigns. Contact: or 01865 794 800.

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Seven activists had a top action at the Tarmac Extraordinary General Meeting on the 8th July. After attending Tarmac's meetings as shareholders since 1993, we were fed up with asking pointless questions and getting "greenwash" for answers, so decided to go for all out disruption! It was very liberating to not be distracted by feeling like we had to "justify" ourselves to them. Once in, our secret weapon was unleashed! We each had an opaque pop bottle full of organic comfrey and nettle plant feed which stinks worse than the Glastonbury loos. Before the meeting started, we rushed the stage and one woman drenched it, the Directors' Table and posh chairs with the stuff. The rest of us poured it all over the hall floor. Security bundled us out with one person receiving a cut eyebrow.

The meeting was delayed for over half an hour as they tried to clean up and decide whether to have the hassle of moving halls. Meanwhile in the lobby, Tarmac's Chairman, Sir John Banham, was spotted and had a jug of milk poured over his head, down his shirt and over his briefcase. Banham's words were "Oh God!" as the suited activist said "That's for trashing people's lives". Despite security threatening to call the police for assault, word came through to let him go. After this the meeting went ahead. We were extremely effective with such a small group - we delayed the meeting for over half an hour, humiliated the chairman and made the Directors sit in slurry throughout their meeting.

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The GenetiX Snowball action on the 5th August went remarkably well. We thought we would be joining the three people on remand at the Smash GenetiX action. But life is rarely that simple.

The whole action was the normal mixture of surreal moments, humour and defiance which typifies snowball actions. Three of us arrived at 6.30am and started trashing the site despite the injunctions. With this we left to take the bagged up plants to AgrEvils HQ at East Winch hall, Near Kings Lynn. They were totally phased, despite us sending them a open letter explaining why we were going to break their injunction.

They had an impromptu press conferences where they tried to deny that the crop was GM until a journalist who came on the action pointed out the injunction signs around the site.

Finally they allowed someone in to hand them the bag of GM oilseed rape our statements and their injunctions. The two execs that the person met were so uptight they could hardly breath. Any way we left and await our committal papers.

Genetix Snowball: 0161 834 0295.

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The Reclaim the Loch action against the development of the area around Loch Lomond, planned for July 3rd, didnít happen due to appalling weather and low numbers.

Two actions have however happened at Faslane Peace Camp recently. On Sunday the 25th of July a Union Jack flag was stolen from the base and burned. Two people were arrested for it, one of whom was charged while the second escaped.

The second action was on Saturday the 31st. Three people from the peace camp entered the base and gatecrashed a private function in the officerís mess. They stole a picture of a submarine and the baseís environmental policies from the wall, which, when they were arrested, they claimed belonged to them and were allowed to keep! They were however charged with breach of bylaws. The council on whose land the peace camp lies has been involved in ongoing attempts to evict the camp. Since the elections it is now under new leadership and the eviction of the camp now looks unlikely. There is plenty going on at the camp however for which new faces are always welcome. Contact: Faslane Peace Camp, 01436 820901.

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Several groups are proposing that November 30th be adopted as the next International Day of Action, along the lines of June 18. November 30th is the second day of the World Trade Organisationís Third Ministerial Summit in Seattle. Peopleís Global Action (the network of grassroots struggles against the WTO) is meeting in India at the end of August to plan mobilisations against the conference. There will also be a caravan project similar to the recent InterContinental Caravan of Indian farmers, wending its way across North America to Seattle.

Fairly independently, some people who managed to persevere with the June 18th email discussion email mailing list despite all the right wing shit and irrelevant postings that plagued it, have set up a new email list to co-ordinate resistance on this day. If youíre on the internet you can join it from the website: Several groups in the UK are considering more local action on this date.

Alternatively, the Canadian Postal Workers Union have proposed a day of action on May 1st 2000, co-ordinated internationally be the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

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Harvest season is in full swing for genetic test sites Ė As far as we know there have been around 46 test sites fully or partly destroyed so far this season, at least a third of the total number planted.

Apart from the farm scale trials and the poplar trees reported elsewhere in the Action Update, actions have taken place recently at three sites in Scotland (Edinburgh and Aberdeenshire), three sites in Lincolnshire, three in Norfolk (including Greenpeaceís motorised assault on a farm scale maize site), a genetiX snowball action in Hertfordshire, and one in Yorkshire. International resistance is also catching on. Two groups Ė the Lopi Loppers and the Cropitistas Ė destroyed commercial corn crops in California at the end of July, claiming solidarity with British and Indian activists, while in France several test sites have been attacked.

Report any similar actions to the Genetic Engineering Network: 0181 374 9516.

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At 7p.m on the 8th of June three women from Trident Ploughshares 2000 launched a boat in to Loch Goil and made their way to 'Maytime', a floating laboratory complex which tests the sonar signals from the Trident nuclear submarines.

Having boarded the lab they paused to hang up banners and then gained entrance through a window. One of them handed out 'load after load' of computers, printers, monitors, fax machines, telephones, computer disks, papers, manuals, etc while the other two threw them all overboard! Inside the lab they found a cage which housed the mechanism for the model submarine which is used for many of the tests. They cut their way through the cage and destroyed the three control panels for the winch and submarine by cutting electric wires and smashing the panels with an hammer. The women then tried to get into the control room for the vessel but were unsuccessful. Above the control room they cut an aerial antennae and superglued/liquidmetalled the moving parts of an outside winch.

Having carried out this action the women displayed on a table their police statement, video, 'Tri-denting It Handbook' and several photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They then had a picnic and waited to be arrested. The action was carried out with due concern for safety Ė the lab was not at that time being used for any tests, and, before they damaged anything, the women made sure the power was turned off. All three of them are now on remand for 110 days but despite this the action was described as 'an amazingly liberating experience'.

Contact: Trident Ploughshares 2000, 01603 611953.

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Huge police numbers managed to stop the 'Target Tarmac' action from taking place at its chosen location at a quarry in the Peak District, but an action did still take place elsewhere later in the day. As the convoy of vehicles approached the quarry they were stopped and searched under section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice Act. After that, they were searched again just down the road, until eventually most vehicles had been searched three or four times, in what police made no attempt to conceal was harassment. At least two people were nicked for possession, one of drugs, the other of a baseball bat (which actually was intended for playing baseball!), and a few people did get briefly into a nearby non-Tarmac quarry and managed to disrupt work for a time.

Wanting to get out of the area, several groups continued in convoy onto Manchester Airport where Tarmac are joint contractors. The fences were climbed with ease and activists clambered over the site's concrete making tower. Other machinery was occupied and the only remaining operational part of site - the lorry weighbridge - was occupied, shutting down the site. They stayed for a good half hour, until the police turned up in force. Some refused to leave until a pledge was made by the boss, in front of the workers, that they would all get full pay despite the protest. This was granted and so they left, visiting the camps and having a beautiful walk through the woods back to the vans.

Another piece of news filtered through during the day. Some striking safety inspectors, who had been planning to come along on the action, told us that nearly every Tarmac Quarry in the country had been shut all day, just as a precaution!

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On the 25th July 40 people marched through Bude in North Cornwall to protest against Britains largest mink farm. Woodview Farm is 10 miles down the road from Bude town centre. The event went well with protesters wearing black with death masks and carrying banners and a black cardboard coffin with furs covered in fake blood hanging over the sides. The march lasted approximately 2 hours covering almost 3 miles of roads in the heart of Bude, stopping people in their tracks (window shopping) with the sound of the bell that was being carried to signal the approach. The police were good natured at the event until the coffin entered the local Conservative Club at which point they stepped in and ordered us to leave the establishment standing guard at the doors until we had passed. The event ended with a demo at the farm in Youlstone.

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The campaign against Manchesterís second runway has been going on the offensive this month with a string of actions against the key players in the development. On the 7th of July there was an occupation of the National Trustís head offices in London. The trust own Arthurís and Cedars wood, which the Airport wants to fell because it would interfere with the radar for the new runway.

The next week a banner was hung from on top of Manchester City Councilís (majority share holders in the airport) Town Hall. The campaign was in court on the 23rd August for Cedar Woodís eviction order. There will be an appeal against the courtís verdict but at the moment the airport can go ahead and evict Arthurs Wood and Cedars Wood as soon as they like.

A banner was hung outside the court (on the court building). Security came out and said 'get down' so the banner hangers finished what they were doing and then got down! Four police vans turned up but after being told that it was just a peaceful protest, they left. A little while later a small group of protesters, getting bored because the court was keeping them waiting, stopped the traffic on Deansgate (big main road in centre of Manchester) for a bit until it was nearly time to go in.

So, roll up, roll up and wheel on down for evictions in Manchesterís beautiful Styal Woods... Camp Mobiles: 07775 752160, 07901 867584.

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Birmingham Northern Relief Road. 'The Spinney' camp at Milestone Plantation on the proposed route of the Birmingham Northern Relief Road is no more. On the 18th of June police arrived at the camp with search warrants, told the occupants of the site that they were trespassing and gave them one hour to leave or be arrested. There were only two people at the camp, others having gone to London for the June 18th protests, both of whom left the camp to get their dogs to safety. The police then made a bonfire out of equipment belonging to the protesters.

Six people went on to establish a new camp at Brick Lane Covet. Sadly they only lasted for 3 days and nights before police, accompanied by the landowner, turned up and threatened to arrest everyone if they did not leave. The occupants left and were then searched in connection with criminal damage (in the form of a hole in the ground!) at the Spinney. Contact 07931 161 761.

Avon Ring Road. The campaign against the Avon Ring Road has started petitioning against plans for infill development since 'just concentrating on the road has alienated a lot of people and is not the whole issue'. Direct action was taken against the road last Spring in the form of 7 people locking on to a digger, 6 of whom were arrested, with 1 woman doing a week in prison as a result. The protest camp was evicted in June but more direct action looks likely in the very near future and more bodies are, as ever, needed for this. Contact 0797 999 0389.

A170 Bypass. Gorse Wood camp exists to resist construction of the bypass, planned to run from Chelmsford towards Southend. A public meeting is scheduled for the 20th of August and a route walk for the 19th of September. Contact 07957 915 977.

Hockley Housing. A new camp has been set up against the proposed construction of 66 luxury homes on 11 acres of ex-greenbelt land at Hockley near Southend. The site is next to a designated wildlife area. People are desperately needed, as is equipment for the camp. Contact: 01702 206181.

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On Saturday 10th July, to commemorate the Ketts Rebellion 450 years ago, The Land is Ours (Anglia region) occupied the grounds of an old hospital on the outskirts of Norwich. With the sale of the site imminent, activists set up camp on this area of prime greenbelt land to stop a piece of natural countryside falling into the hands of developers.

The NHS Trust won a possession order at the High Court on Thursday 22nd July to evict the protesters, but this only fanned flames of public hostility towards the site owners as TLIO campaigners received a groundswell of support from local residents at a public meeting, which was organised by the protesters. Locals vowed to carry on the fight to preserve the site for public use, unanimously backing TLIO's intention to apply to Norfolk County Council for the site to be granted village green status. Under the 1965 Commons Registration Act, in order to get village green status, it would have to be proved that the land had been used for recreational purposes continuously for 20 years.

The procession on the way to Bishopsgate High Court followed the direct route of the Ketts rebels, when 20,000 landless labourers took over the City of Norwich in August 1549.

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In spite of drizzle and grey skies and a previously unsuccessful attempt at blockading traffic four years ago, crowds of car busters came out in force on June 12th in the centre of Newcastle. After over two months of late-night meetings, flyposting, fundraising parties and spreading the word, about two hundred people gathered at the two public meeting points - with only four policemen and a van in sight. In an act of military precision, each group set off at synchronised times with windsocks and whistles and miraculously came across a bloke up a tripod blocking four lanes of traffic on Moseley street. Following an initial scuffle with baffled police who waded in and nicked the sound system, the street was transformed for three hours by fire jugglers, saxophone and guitar players, drummers, dancers and banners. The BBC news reader warned drivers that 'a wigwam had been erected in the city centre' causing traffic chaos in and around Newcastle. Seven people were arrested during the afternoon for criminal offences such as attempting to tie a banner to a lamp-post, and held for forty-six hours. Plans are afoot for more parties in the streets... Contact TAPP.

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The editors of the Earth First! Action Update do not intend to encourage people to carry out any illegal action. The Action Update is for information purposes only.
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