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RAF Brize Norton blockaded, 12th Aug 2006

Simon | 12.08.2006 21:08 | Lebanon War 2006 | Anti-militarism | Oxford

A protest called at very short notice outside the main gates of RAF Brize Norton had the unexpected effect of closing the main gates, and possibly the entire base, to all traffic for nearly two hours. Brize Norton is one of the RAF bases reportedly being used to refuel planes delivering bombs from the US to Israel for use in the ongoing massacre of Lebanon. Meanwhile a peace camp is being established nearby to watch for further such flights. Some photos of the day are attached, and with a bit of luck a movie of the more exciting bits should materialise here later.

RAF Brize Norton - State terror is terrorism
RAF Brize Norton - State terror is terrorism

Making placards
Making placards

Make fair trade tea not war
Make fair trade tea not war

Israel out of Lebanon banner
Israel out of Lebanon banner

Inner gate blocked
Inner gate blocked

US bombs for Israel passing through Brize Norton
US bombs for Israel passing through Brize Norton

Some people outside the gate, some inside
Some people outside the gate, some inside

Inner gate still blocked
Inner gate still blocked

We have guided missiles and misguided men - Martin Luther King
We have guided missiles and misguided men - Martin Luther King

How many deaths for the new world order?
How many deaths for the new world order?

US war materials flights through "RAF"? Brize Norton
US war materials flights through "RAF"? Brize Norton

No fuel for Israel
No fuel for Israel

Police assist with the blockade
Police assist with the blockade

Inner gate still blocked
Inner gate still blocked

Samba outside the outer gate
Samba outside the outer gate

Stop bomber flights refuelling
Stop bomber flights refuelling

Police add extra locks to the gates
Police add extra locks to the gates

Inner gate still blocked
Inner gate still blocked

The angel of death is close by - can't you hear the beating of its wings?
The angel of death is close by - can't you hear the beating of its wings?

Following on from last weekend’s huge (but state sanctioned) march and rally in London [1], Swindon Stop the War called a protest outside the main gates of RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. Around fifty-five people attended, including a samba band which had come all the way from London, and a reporter and cameraman from ITV Central news.

Although the original intention was to make our presence felt outside the gates of the base, to highlight the role it plays in the wider “war on terror”, and specifically in the bombardment of Lebanon, a group of anarchists, believed to be from Cardiff, arrived and unfurled a huge banner with the words “Israel out of Lebanon, UK out of the Middle East, USA off the planet”. With hardly a word, they proceeded to march in through the outer gates of the base.

There are two sets of gates at this entrance to Brize Norton. The outer set of gates stood wide open, and the police were keeping a low profile, so there was nothing to stop anyone walking in other than the no-entry signs. Inside these gates is a big roundabout, and on the other side of the roundabout is another set of gates leading presumably into the base proper. Although there were a handful of police in the area between the two sets of gates, they made no attempt to stop these people approaching the inner gates. Instead they closed the inner gates, and the anarchists took up position directly in front of it, with their banner held up for all to see (although it wasn’t really visible from the road). Before most of us understood quite what was happening, the main gate of the air base through which all UK solders leave and enter the country, had been effectively and peacefully blockaded, and all incoming traffic was being sent back round the roundabout to the main road.

Emboldened by this act, more of the protestors drifted into the area between the two sets of gates. Some more police arrived, a few vague warnings were issued to the effect that people might be arrested if they didn’t leave the area, and officer 774 arrived to start the oft-seen intimidation tactic of filming and photographing everyone. Other than officer 774’s activities, the police were still making no real effort to move people out of the area. When a couple of elderly ladies objected to being filmed and demanded to know what the purpose was, she mumbled something about “evidence”, and then disappeared through the inner gates before anyone could make a note of her number. She was back again soon enough though, systematically filming and photographing everyone several times over.

The blockaders with their banner and a legal observer maintained their positions, but most of the protestors drifted back outside the outer gates, wanting to make a public display of their disapproval of the way the US Air Force is once again using our island as some kind of unsinkable aircraft carrier. Surprisingly for a town which is so dependent on the air base for employment and the like, the reception from passing cars was largely positive, with many hoots of support, but also a few inevitable shouts of “get a job” (I already have a full-time job, by the way) and other abuse.

Andy Newman of Swindon Stop the War concisely summed up the reason we had chosen to protest at Brize Norton.

“Bombing Lebanese civilians is a war crime. Giving bombs to people committing a war crime is a war crime. Refuelling the planes taking the bombs to the people dropping the bombs on the children is a war crime. We say shame on the British government for this war crime. Stop refuelling the marathon transports.”

As the protest outside the outer gates continued, with an open mike, poetry and samba, the police lent their assistance to the blockade, closing one of the outer gates and blocking the other one with a van and a line of yellow-jacketed officers, and even supplied another officer to explain to any incoming traffic that they couldn’t come in. Meanwhile the original blockade of the inner gates stood firm, with some of those outside regularly peering in to see if anything was happening to them.

Meanwhile, other reports and comments posted to the Indymedia newswire indicate that other gates to Brize Norton were also blockaded one way or another, and even that the entire base was effectively closed for business for the duration [2] [3].

Approximately an hour and a half after marching in through the outer gate, the blockaders decided to march back out again, still holding their banner proudly aloft, to cheers from those outside, and passed through the outer gates again unmolested by the police. They then turned right onto Brize Norton Road, and walked away from Carterton, destination unknown, but spread right across the road with their banner.

In a display of what would in any normal situation be described as dangerous driving, a car came up rather fast behind the marchers, before screeching to a halt a couple of feet away from them. Apparently the police up till this point hadn’t noticed that the main road was being blocked, but at the sound of sharp braking they suddenly started running towards the marchers and bundled them rather roughly first to the left-hand side of the road and then onto the pavement on the right hand side of the road.

Eyewitnesses who were closer to the action than me report that officer 774 (she of the systematic and intimidatory photography technique) was at the head of the chase, urging the other officers on, and that no warning was given before they piled into the marchers. Seeing as the policing up to this point had been low-key and unobtrusive (with the exception of officer 774’s activities), this incident was shockingly mismanaged. Surely, on a road with only one lane in each direction, it would have been possible for the police to temporarily stop the traffic in both directions (in the interest of public safety) and warn the marchers to get off the road or face arrest, BEFORE initiating a physical confrontation, and the road could be cleared again within minutes.

In the ensuing scuffles, the dangerous driver escaped without being stopped or identified, four marchers were arrested (including one for allegedly assaulting a police officer), and it was very difficult to see what was happening because the other police insisted on telling everyone to a) move away from the arresting officers, and b) stay on the pavement, where we couldn’t see anything though the line of police telling us to stay away from the arresting officers. Although I wasn’t in a very good position to observe the whole incident, it seems that it was quite well covered by a number of cameras (still and video), including the Central TV cameraman, so there should be very little chance of any trumped-up charges being brought.

Although the Central TV journalist told me that their report would be broadcast on the 5:30 news on both Central and south-west ITV news, it seems that the editors in the south-west region had other ideas, preferring to report that cancelled flights meant that lots of people were stuck in airports, with dubious graphics of airports with some kind of gun-sights superimposed over them.

As the protestors dispersed at around 2pm, Andy reminded us all of the over-policed peace camp, march and rally which had been held in the same place in April 2005 [4], and that there would be a national demonstration at Brize Norton on the 2nd December. Fed up with the routine of A to B marches followed by the great and the good preaching to the converted? Come to Brize Norton for a fun and unpredictable day out!



See also the UK IMC topic page, “Lebanon War 2006”:



Photos of arrests

12.08.2006 21:40

Arrest #1
Arrest #1

Arrest #2
Arrest #2

Arrest #3
Arrest #3

Arrest (I think this was #3 again)
Arrest (I think this was #3 again)

Arrest #4 coming quietly (he got a cheer)
Arrest #4 coming quietly (he got a cheer)

As previously mentioned, I wasn't in a good position to observe the arrests, but here are a few photos anyway.


Officer 774, she of the systematic and intimidatory photography technique

12.08.2006 21:49

Officer 774 #1
Officer 774 #1

Officer 774 #2
Officer 774 #2

Officer 774 #3
Officer 774 #3

Officer 774 #4
Officer 774 #4

Officer 774 #5
Officer 774 #5

Officer 774 #6
Officer 774 #6

Maybe this is slightly gratuitous, but even the most law-abiding of citizens with nothing to hide gets a bit narked at being repeatedly filmed and photographed by the police under the pretext of "evidence". So here's some more "evidence", for what it's worth.


3 Cardiff activists released

12.08.2006 23:30

3 of the activists arrested today at Brize Norton have just been released (00:20) from custody at Banbury police station, all have been given cautions.

They are still awaitng the release of a fourth activist who was arrested for alleged assault of a police officer.

They are now having a beer.

Heaven is a half brick

Fourth Person released

13.08.2006 08:39

All are now released

fourth person has been charged with assault police....but now in bed :-)

mail e-mail:

slight correction

13.08.2006 13:25

“Bombing Lebanese civilians is a war crime. Giving bombs to people committing a war crime is a war crime. Refuelling the planes taking the bombs to the people dropping the bombs on the children is a war crime. We say shame on the British government for this war crime. Stop refuelling the marathon transports.”

Actually i said

"Stop refuelling the American transports"

Nowadys marathons are called snickers bars!


More photos, including arrrests

13.08.2006 13:52

Swindon's own war poet
Swindon's own war poet

Base closed
Base closed



Arrests being filmed
Arrests being filmed

Thanks for the updates on the arrestees, and the poems.

Sorry about the misquote, Andy. I'm sure it sounded like "marathon", but now you mention it, "American" makes far more sense.

That movie is coming soon .... honest!

Simon (pics by Jo)

The movie, as promised

13.08.2006 14:31

Here's a movie of the day. Includes a lorry being turned away from the base, the police closing the outer gates, some samba, some poetry, and what I could see of the arrests. 16MB, 6 minutes 13 seconds.



Hide the following 7 comments

Stop Taking the Peace - poetic snapshots of the Brize Protest

13.08.2006 10:48


a collection of poetic snapshots of the Brize Norton Protest

Tony Hillier, Swindon’s Community Poet

The 12 August 2006 protest was against the RAF station being used by the USA to transfer munitions to feed the Israeli/Lebanese War.


this site is a criminal offence


unauthorised access protected
site under the serious
organised crime
and police act

trespass on

nb this is a “found” poem ie words found somewhere and altered only slightly. These were on a notice on Brize Norton main gate.


loud peace

there was a draft
a draught of peace

so Brize
shut main gate
to keep it out

so louder
did the peace shout


the peace beat

they beat
they beat
they beat the drum

they beat that drum
that closed main gate Brize
that gave a rise
a rise to peace
protestors did arise
from London, Cardiff, Swindon
Spain, Oxford, Faringdon
and summer Somerset

They beat, they beat
Beat the peace into the air
Showing, showing
There are people who care

they beat
they beat
they beat the peace

* Big thanks to public transport travelling from London Samba Resistance Band


774 on one

774 was on one
774 Thames Valley
was on one

Camera to her face
Camera shoved in protest faces
She’d got a cob on
She was going to show
who was the Protest Boss

who was the Protest Boss ?
she was we knew that
when she wouldn’t answer questions
she didn’t have to, she was the Boss

all afternoon she bossed about
until her time did come
time to book a protestor
bring a protestor to book

she did
what she said
on her tin
she booked

when 774 gets to read her book
will it say
how well I did my job today



living on the edge
of peace and war
pushed by police to floor

to end the day
handcuffed under hedge


Tony Hillier
mail e-mail:

You really are misguided.

14.08.2006 14:30

You actually believe that the Civilian Police are helping you in your protest, then you really are deluded to believe such tripe. The police were there to arrest you, incase any of you became violent or tresspassed, and definatly not to close RAF Brize Norton for you but to close the camp to stop you gaining entry. My dear lord you people are more deluded than I first thought.

Taff Thomas

irony missed

15.08.2006 13:58

Mate, I think they were being ironic, no?


You shut down the camp???

17.08.2006 15:20

RAF Brize Norton was not shut down or even obstructed, there are at least a dozen other gates that were open randomly to let vehicles in and out. These hippies really should concentrate on their political aims more than their noisy protests that achieve nothing but make fools of themselves. By protesting they are actually endangering lives themselves by drawing valuable resources away from key roles to do menial tasks like watching them piss around by the main gates of these military units.

A pissed off local

Losing hope

19.08.2006 21:20

just to get the details straight

when your country men and women are being injured on a daily basis and killed by the month, in faraway lands fighting a war they have no choice in, doing a job they do to protect your rights and freedom you decided to blockade the base.The base that provides the main lifeline to them???
In the time between plotting your next actions take time out and ponder that thought. You could even write a poem, Title "I enjoy endangering my country men and womens lives"

just a thought

oh one more thought

Get your heads on straight and support your troops!

unsupported troop

Free to take pictures

20.08.2006 18:08

In your article you moan about the police taking photos of you and your protest! Yet where you not taking photos of the police, servicemen and your protest? So im guessing its ok for you to take pictures but its not allowed for anyone else to do the same ! Well it seems that your freedom of speach and democratic ideals only go as far as what is acceptable to your pathetic wants!!

Annoyed of Brize Norton

Things like this upset me

06.10.2007 17:34

It does upset me to see things like this. I see you harrasing innocent road users, wasting police time, disrupting the operation of an RAF station, being abuseive, being bias. I will explain. Walking in the middle of a road with a banner, you should expect to get injured, wasting yet more peoples time. The police have more important things to deal with than watch you lot causing problems and not getting anyware with you goals. Remember when you house gets burgled, and it takes hours for the police to arrive, they will be having there time wasted. Think about how many people in geniune trouble were upset and possibly hurt as a result of what you do. RAF Brize Norton DOES NOT refuel and aircraft other than british aircraft, the USAF aircraft go to a USAF station in the UK. This is commin knowladge. Even with the out of context video I could see how the protestors were reacting to the police, that is not socially acceptable behavior.

I would also like to point out that not a soal at Brize has anychoice in what goes-on at the station. As is true with every military extablishment in the world. Whitehall is where all the decisions are made.

You are the real terrorsts, distupting the dails operation of the country, opstructing infrastructure, exactly what terrorists say they are doing, you even hurt people like the police, when you voilently resist arrest of the people the police cant go and help because they are tied up making sure that you uphold your end of peaceful protest, which you know as well as me that you wouldnt id unsupervised.

Finally be thankful of the police the military guards at those gates are armed and they also have some very large well trained dogs. Civillian police are a god send for protestors because you know you not going to get beaten. Where as with the military they will remove all your recording equipment and beat you all, arrest you and make sure when your are in a cell that you have no recording equipment. I know this to be FACT!

Service Man

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