on the A45 outside Birmingham International Airport to "demand action
to put a stop to the CIA's torture flights"
A45 near Birmingham Airport, Saturday 24 June, 2006
Police Mobile CCTV van, Air Cargo Centre entrance
different airports on the same day, ahead of the forthcoming
presentation on Tuesday 27 June of a report titled "alleged
secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees
involving Council of Europe member states" by Dick Marty to the
so-called Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. (
In total approximately twenty people took part in the vigil. After half
an hour or so, numbers had been increased by a few people from
Coventry. The conspicuous "Coventry Stop the War Coalition" banner
might lead the unwary to think that they had organised the event (see
The largest lettering read simply "CLOSE GUANTANAMO" and passing motorists
started sounding their car horns in support before all the banners had
even been set up. The horns continued intermittently throughout the two
In the first half hour or so (until they ran out) over a hundred leaflets
were handed out to passing motorists stopped at the traffic lights.
An hour and a half or so into the vigil one of the group walked round
offering cans of soft drink from a bag containing half a dozen or so
drink cans. He told me that the driver of a coach had stopped just up
the road and given them to him. The driver had said that his boss had
asked him bring them to the people at the vigil.
Details of places and times to meet had previously been announced on the
Birmingham Indymedia website and elsewhere. One of the arrangements was to meet in the car park at the Midland Arts Centre (MAC) near Cannon
Hill Park and proceed in several cars. I arrived there at about 11:30 BST
to find a small group of people and a uniformed policeman on a pedal cycle who wobbled slowly past more than once and then stood looking towards the group from about 50 yards away and talking into his microphone. As the four vehicles drove past him out of the car park he
appeared to be making notes. Later one of the group told me that this
policeman had asked him who the white man was, referring to someone
in the group.
When these cars arrived at the pre-arranged site for the vigil, the Air
Cargo Centre entrance of Birmingham International Airport, already present
was a large police van with "Caught on Camera" and "Mobile CCTV"
painted on the side (see photo). Two police officers immediately approached the group. One of them asked how many people were coming
and how many cars. He was pleasantly spoken and polite. He suggested a place to park and said that the airport did not want us on their property. He called up someone to confirm where the boundary of the airport was.
The police van with two policemen sitting in the front was still
nearby in the entrance to the air Cargo Centre approximately two hours
later when the vigil ended. In response to an explicit question,
the police confirmed that they had stayed there because of the vigil.
On one occasion during the vigil I had seen one policeman walking around amongst the group on the grass.