Menwith Hill celebrated independence from Great Britain (1776) the week before the traditional
date - 4 July each year. Maybe this was because we were there to call for independence FROM
America on that date. It was the annual demonstataion 'Independence FROM America' at the American
base at Menwith Hill. There has been a demonstration here since 1982.
Having had glorious hot summer weather for a lovely long time, on 4 July it changed! Very strong
winds and the heavens opened.
About 200 people came which was more people than last year. Perhaps this was because Mark Thomas
(comedian and political activist) and Peter Tatchell (Human rights activist) were the guest
speakers as well as an excellent 'line up' of musicians. This year the general theme was in line
with the World Cup - the goal is Independence FROM America.
Steve Hill (Daftasadrum) started the demonstration with a wonderful drumming workshop. The
demonstration was hosted by Martin Schweiger (doctor, activist and Quaker). Moira Hill and Peter
Kenyon read the Declaration of Independence FROM America (amended original version).
The Declaration of Independence FROM America was read by Moira Hill and Peter Kenyon. This amended
version of the original document is read each year.
Mark Thomas spoke and was Mark Thomas (!) and signed copies of 'the Peoples Manifesto'. Sadly Peter
Tatchell could not come, having rung on the morning of the demonstration to say that he had a
ferocious migraine. People signed a get well card at the demonstration which we sent.
Mark handed in a large Red Card which people had signed adding inspirational messages to Mary
O'Brien as to why Menwith Hill should go. Whistles were blown as this was happening. (We had
written to Mary O'Brien to say we would like her to receive the Red Card - David Elliott (RAF
Liaison officer) replied saying they were both at a prior engagement and that a representative of
the Ministry of Defence Police Agency would receive it.
If anyone hasn't heard Roy Bailey before (socialist folk singer - he has a website) then you missed
something very special. He sold some of this CDs including his latest one. East Lancs Clarion
Choir sang (unaccompanied) some lovely songs. The wonderful folk band Seize the Day played while
the heavens opened and a band from Preston played before we walked round the base.
Dave Bevan and his team provided delicious quality vegetarian food throughout.
The walk was special in that we had retrieved a small civil liberty (a bit of a struggle!). North
Yorkshire police (NYP) have prevented the traditional walk round the base for the past three years
by putting on conditions (Public Order Act 1986). CAAB contacted Liberty once again and this year
with their help NYP agreed that we could walk round Menwith Hill and further more they would help;
our argument was that it is the duty of the police to enable protest as protest is one of our Human
Rights ('right to assemble' and 'freedom of expression'). We had carefully liaised with NYP and
had met senior officers before to stress these points.
The police were excellent - polite, helpful and courteous (how effective are we being?!!!!) and as
they used to be at these demonstrations. Please refer to the letter we wrote to Aubrey Smith
(Chief Inspector NYP) on website www.caab.org.uk There were very few police visible (all tucked up
on the base), no police horses or police vehicles etc etc or any 'evidence gathering' officers to
be seen. Police on cycles helped with the walk. The traffic was 'sheparded' by police on motor
Many thanks to everyone who helped to make the demonstration possible including Liberty. We are now
planning the next annual demonstration (Keep Space for Peace) on 2 October 2010 at Menwith Hill -
more details nearer the time.
MENWITH HILL NEEDS CONSTANT ATTENTION: Please come to the weekly demonstration outside the main
entrance to Menwith Hill - every Tuesday evening (6-8 pm) - if you haven't been before - come and
learn what they do there....
Keep Space for Peace demonstration -
Saturday 2 October 2010
see website soon for further details....
Lindis Percy and Laila Packer
CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF AMERICAN BASES - CAAB