Fracktion Training Day 2 – a review

Keith Ross has requested I put together a synopsis/review of Saturday’s training event, so here goes!The day was essentially split into two parts:

  1. The practicalities of setting up a Community Protection Camp
  2. The legal ramifications of direct action and the possibility of arrest and its consequences.

There were approximately 20 delegates representing groups from:

  • Swansea
  • Llantrisant
  • Llantrithyd and the Vale
  • Llanelli
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • Bridgend
  • Newport
  • Gloucestershire

The morning session was run by Liz and Rachel who have extensive experience of setting up and living in protest camps, including Balcombe and Barton Moss.
The topics covered included:

  • Why have a camp at all?
  • Media attention and PR
  • Impacts on the drilling companies

The practicalities of setting up a camp

  • Toilet options and hygiene
  • Kitchen requirements and considerations
  • Living space – individual and group spaces

Site selection issues

  • Landowners and relations with them
  • Holding space and getting people there

Cultural structures

  • Establishing ground rules
  • Meetings
  • Safer spaces policies

Dealing with problems

  • Alchohol/smoking/drugs/noise

Behind the scenes considerations

  • Communications with the outside world
  • Maintain a blog diary
  • Pictures
  • Camp contact phone

Engaging people

  • Meet and greet vistors
  • Putting on events – Solidarity Sundays
  • Educational workshops
  • Provisions for kids

Relationships with the local community

  • Consideration of inconvenience being caused
  • Establishing levels of support – surveys
  • Dissemination of information (DVDs and literature)

Skills bank – who can we call on for support and help?

  • Providing energy e.g. solar (avoiding gas!)
  • Building stoves
  • Providing water
  • Dealing with toilet waste and other refuse
  • Entertainers

All of this was covered in just a couple of hours, with much of it not much more than a superficial ‘think about this’.
More time and detail was spent on considering toilet and kitchen options, along with how to initiate a camp and get to hold the space.
This latter point was a good lead into the afternoon ‘legal’ session.

The afternoon session was entitled “KNOW YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS” and was run by Katherine from ‘Seeds for Change’ organisation (not ‘Seeds of Change), with valuable additional insight from Val of the ‘Green & Black Cross’ organisation.
See: www.seedsforchange.org.uk and www.greenandblackcross.org and activistslegalproject.org.uk

The topics covered included:

  • What could you be arrested for?
  • Most likely offences and their penalties (if found guilty)

Arrest procedures

  • What to expect
  • Advice on what to say and do when
  • Health issues
  • Getting legal help/support
  • Avoiding duty solicitors

Possible outcomes and their ramifications

  • Being held in custody
  • Being bailed
  • Being charged
  • Being cautioned (admitting guilt)
  • Being released without charge

Legal observers

  • Their role
  • What the should and should not do
  • Getting trained (through the Green & Black Cross)
  • Advice on use of cameras/video

This session generated a lot of questions and debate. After all, those present, for the most part, are people that are passionately committed to doing whatever they can to oppose the frackers, but in most cases have limited or no experience of direct action that can have legal consequences. Even the experienced ‘old hands’ got valuable information on how things have changed since, in some cases, activism of decades ago.

Everyone present therefore found the whole day immensely valuable and thought provoking. It may make a few think twice about just how involved they want to get in terms of direct action, but for most it was an invaluable heads up on what to expect and how best to avoid consequences that could prove personally difficult. Forewarned is forearmed!!

For many, it is now a case of “BRING IT ON”!!!!

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