Independence from America day
But you don't need loads of people or even get inside the base, to have a good day. What made the day really great was a combination of good music, good speeches and entertainment, great weather, and the costumes and banners that decorated the space.
The event was much like an RTS street party but in the countryside. The atmosphere among the 500 or so people there (wild guesstimate) was really cool. Everyone seemed relaxed and happy and unintimidated by the swarms of dayglo clad police that were everywhere. Some of these spent time taking photos all day of people for no reason other than to scare them. Other cops stood inside the fence visibly displaying submachine guns - a symbolic display to say come inside and we'll kill you (which I doubt they would). But such tactics didn't work at all and more often than not it was the police who were scared of the protesters cameras. A woman chased one particularly camera shy policeman around around a police van before I snuck round the other side and shot him unexpected.
The police delayed the start of the walk around the base by about 30 minutes or so. First they caused scene by arresting someone for wearing a scarf. Interesting that even despite their huge numbers, truncheons, helmets, cameras, machine guns, radio, fence and rolls of razor wire, electronic fencing they still felt threatened by one guy wearing a scarf. This guy managed to escape from the back of the van and leg it about 50 yards with a mix of cops and people dressed in ball gowns and fancy dress trailing after him. The cops unfortunately got him and it was a shame there hadn't been a few more people to de-arrest him. Nevertheless it was a cool and inspiring, if short lived act of defiance.
Next the cops blocked the road and refused to let us past claiming 'they were not ready' yet. Yeah right! They'd known about this event for weeks and all they had to was get out the way and close one road. Whether these delays were a deliberate ploy by the police or not is hard to say. I suspect it was probably incompetence more than anything. The end result was that the walk around the base didn't happen. Ater about getting a quarter of the way we came back so there was time for the bands, DJs and poetry back at the main gate.
On the way back the mobile soundsystem stopped and an alternative party was had sponteously on the street for around half an hour.
Then it was back to the main front gate area for a very good natured party. Free cocktails with upside down flags were provided by the unappetisingly entitled 'Capitalism Spreads Like a Disease Cafe'. Usually using the word 'disease' in the name for a Cafe doesn't work but since everything was free it didn't seem to be a problem.
In all a great day out, well organised, and leaving me with the feeling I'd definitely go again next time.
Thanks to CAAB, NOW, Mark Thomas and all the people who worked to make this happen.