Dale Farm activists take ‘Fight for Sites’ to Pickles’ doorstep
Traveller rights activists targeted Eric Pickles’ Department of Communities and Local Government in a protest today to mark the one year anniversary of the eviction of Dale Farm. 250 activists, many of whom resisted the eviction at Dale Farm last October, and former Dale Farm residents descended on the government building in an attempt to ‘evict Eric Pickles’.
Protesters vowed to ‘give Eric Pickles a taste of his own medicine’ by launching ‘the eviction to end all evictions’. People held 6ft caravan cutouts and used them to occupy the space in front of the Department for Communities and Local Government, meanwhile 10 protesters scaled the building and occupied the roof with banners reading ‘Fight for Sites’, ‘End All Evictions’ and ‘Dale Farm Fightback. A list of evictions, paying tribute to 50 years of Traveller resistance to racist eviction in the UK and Ireland, was read out. Protesters accused police of being heavy handed, citing excessive force and use of dogs. Several arrests were reported.
Protesters hold the Department for Communities and Local Government responsible for ‘leading the attack on Traveller rights’ by increasing eviction powers and slashing regional targets for site provision. The Department for Communities and Local Government also contributed £1.2 million in funding to the Dale Farm eviction.
Oscar Farrell, who resisted the eviction at Dale Farm one year ago, said “What is happening at Dale Farm isn’t just a local dispute – it is part of Eric Pickles’ attack on Traveller communities. Traveller families all over the country are being evicted and left with nowhere else to go because there aren’t enough sites.”
Dale Farm residents spoke from outside the Department for Communities and Local Government. Mary Flynn, former Dale Farm resident and mother of four, said “They ignore us in their laws, they ignore us in their consultations, they ignore our desperate situation at Dale Farm. They just want us to disappear. The only way we can be heard is to come to the government’s doorstep. My children are asking ‘why can’t we go home?’ Eric Pickles needs to answer them.”