were approximately 500 loud, angry, compassionate people prepared for anything
at the Consort Beagle Breeder's Facility and this is a force to reckon with!
gathered outside the premises. There were a number of police present and many
more officers hiding around the area and inside the compound. Protesters waited
until the last ones had arrived and then, suddenly, moved off, down a track, and
around to the back of the beagle breeding place. There, police had put up a fence
with barbed wire, and some 15 police officers--some with dogs--tried to keep off
the crowd. About 100 yards behind the police was the actual breeding place which
was again surrounded by a wall with razor wire all around.
much build-up of emotion, people stormed past the police to the razor-wired wall
and fence. Some tried to climb it (and a few managed with success), but most just
got stuck outside. Two guys were able to enter the compound and take one beagle
dog and flee up onto the roof of one of the buildings inside. By this time, people
were seriously tearing on the fences outside, and the riot police moved in. The
riot police surrounded the building with the two men and the dog visible on the
It was at this point, when all the people in the crowd saw the rescued
dog and the two men surrounded by police and barbed razor wire, that the protesters
showed their true strength of feeling: they tried with all means to get into the
area to free the men and the dog.
First, some of the fencing on one side
was torn down and people managed to get far enough inside to wreck two sheds and
destroy everything inside them, dragging out things and setting them on fire.
This included a small tractor. However, even though they were showered with rocks,
riot police were able to stop the protesters from moving further inside the area.
some protesters further down from the torn-down fencing managed to overcome the
barrier by putting bits of an asbestos roof over the razor wire fence. But, again,
riot police were able to beat people back.
One has to imagine the scenario
at this stage: There are these two masked liberationists on the roof with the
beagle dog. The house on which they are standing is surrounded by maybe 50 riot
police in full gear, with helmets, shields, batons, the lot. Then there are some
more 50 or so police buzzing around inside, many police crews filming everything,
and a helicopter above the scene, also filming I'm sure. Around all those police
officers is a heavily-protected fence with a rock wall on some parts and razor
wire and rolls fixed over it all the way. And all this is surrounded and besieged
by an angry crowd of protesters, attacking from all sides, determined to get those
men and the dog out.
Next, a large crowd of protesters attacked again from
the entrance gate side, this time smashing up the windows of the cars of employees
as well as the manager of the place in the car park. Protesters were not aware
of one arrest that had been made earlier, with the arrestee sitting in the police
van in this very car park. As I shared a police cell with him in the following
night, he told me that he felt all those rocks raining onto them, but police had
pushed him firmly to the ground so that he couldn't show himself to protesters.
Otherwise he might well have been de-arrested.
For those not used to such
protests, in order to give you a full picture, I would like to add that most protesters
were totally masked up. It was not just one or two activists throwing rocks--it
was really everyone. And the people on megaphones shouted, "Go on! Do it!
Don't be afraid! Smash the bastards!" It was mayhem. Also, protesters continually
changed clothes with each other so that no particular protester could be pointed
out. Protesters were constantly on the alert against police snatch squads and
effectively de-arrested immediately when such a squad tried their luck.
some protesters managed to break through the razor wire by dragging a bath tub
to the fence, tearing the fence down, and putting this tub over it. So, within
minutes, hundreds of protesters entered the inner area, surrounding the house
with the two men and the dog on top. A line of police posed little resistance,
and soon hundreds of people reached the side of the house, smashing up the garden
fence and invading the front area. Police with batons stormed in from one side
and riot police from the other, but protesters resisted. A wall was broken down
and split into handily-sized rocks used as missiles. Another fire was started
in the garage and sheds just beside the house.
About five protesters were
cut off by police inside the garden, as the police had managed by then to move
protesters slightly backwards. At this stage the two men appeared on the roof
just above protesters and lowered the beagle dog straight into the arms of the
protesters. One of the men followed. I don't know what happened to the other.
The protesters had managed to resist riot police attacks by then, long enough
so that one of the guys from the roof and the dog were safely hidden in the crowd.
half the protesters moved off, broke through police lines, and managed to get
the beagle safely out of the immediate area. About 40 people made off with the
beagle. Unfortunately, they were spotted by two over-enthusiastic police officers,
one with a police dog, who gave chase. Also, the police helicopter was alerted
and stayed above those protesters. At this stage, all of the 40 protesters took
their jackets off and rolled them up and held them in front of their hands as
if they were holding a dog and made off in different direction. This confused
police and the two officers chased different people in different directions. However,
the people were not running fast enough, so more and more of those running off
were caught and checked, and more and more police officers were getting involved
in the chase, being drafted in from the roads.
After a two-mile chase, the
people with the beagle dog were discovered. The police dog was set on the people
and two were severely bitten. Thirteen protesters then piled together onto a heap,
hiding and protecting the beagle with their bodies. More and more police officers
were drafted in and eventually moved in and beat the 13 away and took the dog.
All 13 were arrested under suspicion of theft.
In the meantime, protesters
continued to fight police in the area of the beagle breeding farm. It was then
that CS gas was used, and many protesters ended up requiring hospital treatment.
Also, the road was blockaded in protest for a while, using equipment taken from
a nearby road building site. Later on in the day, three employees and the manager
of the beagle breeder had home visits and got their houses thoroughly smashed
Altogether 24 people got arrested. One was immediately released as the
arresting officer could not be found. The reasons for the arrest for the remaining
23 varied from theft to burglary, criminal damage, and assault. As far as I know,
no one was charged and everyone was released during the same night and the early
hours of the next morning.
I was arrested under suspicion of burglary and
theft. Just prior to my arrest, I was attacked by a police dog and severely bitten.
The dog-handling police officer encouraged the dog all the way through this attack
and praised him/her afterwards. I had to remove the dog by stuffing my sweatshirt
into his/her mouth and removing him/her manually.
On the drive to the police
station, I had the beagle dog on my lap while I was handcuffed which made it impossible
to comfort the poor soul in the way she needed. The dog was a young female and
pregnant. Later during the night she was retrieved by an unknown man from the
police station. Protesters who besieged the police station managed to initially
drive him off, but, eventually, with a heavy police escort, the dog was removed.
Most likely, she is dead by now.
Apart from the sad end for the beagle,
every second of this demo was worth it. It was such an empowering experience and
show of what 500 compassionate people with bare hands can do against an army of
well-armoured riot police with batons, CS gas, and barbed razor wire.
am humbled by the selfless determination those protesters showed. There was no
fear--there was just simply no fear.