This was part of a national campaign to force Sainsbury's to stop selling stuff from animals fed on GM feed. It follows a similar blockade near Bristol last Friday, and 27 recent supermarket demos. Animal feed is the last route left for GM in the UK to enter the food chain and is the main market for GM material being imported into the country. See http://www.geneticsaction.org.uk/resources/alliancesainsburys.pdf
A defunct Skoda was dumped at the main gate and two people locked themselves to it (to a welded-on hoop), while two other people locked the emergency gate shut, all using d-locks around their necks. The blockade lasted for two and a half hours, costing Sainsbury's an estimated £250,000 to £400,000*.
The police appeared on the scene just before midnight and about an hour later the specialist blockade-removing van arrived. It was apparent to us that they had recently been trained to deal with this type of situation:
-The van had a roof-mounted crane, ladders, hydraulic bolt croppers, neck protection devices & protective cloaks (for the people being removed) and other specialist equipment.
-The police seemed to be following procedure to the letter, clearing people away from the lock-ons swiftly, searching locked-on people for dangerous items, etc. They acted very confidently and efficiently, without much aggression.
-They filmed it all thoroughly, and at the end they asked the legal observer if it had all been carried out correctly.
-They didn't seem to be interested in arresting people, however...
...they did arrest the first person who was cut off. He was arrested, ID-verified, charged (with obstruction) and released within twenty minutes, and didn't even see the inside of a police cell.
Sainsbury’s suppliers now pay most farmers less for their milk than it costs to produce. 40 dairy farmers are going under every week in Britain at the moment because of the supermarkets pricing policies. This goes hand in hand with the international crisis of biotechnology. Farmers want to avoid GM crops, but the poor payment they currently receive forces many of them to keep using the fractionally cheaper GM contaminated imports. The continuing threat of GM, and the corporate aquisition and gentrification of the countryside, could be stopped if farmers got a fair fraction of the price paid for their milk, and the supermarkets were obliged to keep their 3 year old promise to phase out GM feed.
*This is based on Sainsbury's estimate in a recent court case, that they lose £100-150,000 per depot per hour of disruption.
See also comments at http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/03/306097.html
Comments on police tactics at