This newly edited and remastered Chanel 4 documentary has been doing the rounds for a couple of weeks now and is sure to be of interest! The Battle of the Beanfield took place over several hours on the afternoon of Saturday 1 June 1985 when Wiltshire Police prevented a vehicle convoy of several hundred new age travellers, known as 'The Convoy' and referred to in the media as the 'Peace Convoy' from setting up at the 11th Stonehenge Free Festival at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England "Basically the police were extremely violent and beat up men and women with children." The whole reason that the government was so eager to stop the festival was the law which stated that 'after 12 years of gathering in the same place of celebration a national event automatically came into being and as a national event they would have been unable to prevent it from occurring again in the future.'
- "This is the original and 47 min extended version of the documentary about the Battle of the Beanfield - digitised from the last remaining sub-master tape to mark the 30th anniversary on 1st June 2015.
This films documents events that happened on 1st June 1985 when people tried to make their way to Stonehenge to set up what would have been the 11th People's Free Festival.
National government and local authorities had decided to put an end to both the Festival and the travelling lifestyle that growing numbers of people were adopting during the dark years of the Thatcher era.
It was the time of the Miners strike and anti-nuclear protests at Greenham Common. Anyone who did not agree with government policy was considered to be the 'Enemy Within' and was investigated, infiltrated, suppressed and marginalised.
The police stopped a convoy of 600 largely peaceful men, women and children as they made their way to Stonehenge. People drove into a field to avoid the police but were surrounded and given no chance of escape.
The Police operation had been planned for several months. New paramilitary equipment and tactics developed during the miners' strike were implemented; later in the day the people in the Beanfield were violently attacked by massed ranks of 1300 riot police. Large numbers of vehicles were destroyed and 536 people were eventually arrested - the largest mass arrest of civilians in English legal history.
It wasn't a Battle, it was an ambush where defenceless people were beaten and those that tried to defend themselves were beaten some more. Few, if any, charges were ever upheld against the people and in 1991 some of the Travellers successfully sued the police for damages. Although the judge over-ruled the intentions of the jury and all of their compensation was taken away in costs.
Why is this important when tens of thousands are massacred around the world annually? Because it's about freedom and hypocrisy - this is England, where we pretend to hold the moral high ground and we justify invading other people's countries to uphold human rights. But if our own house is not in order then who are we to judge?
This film was self-funded during the summer/winter of 1990/91 and Channel 4 provided some completion money for a 23 min version that was broadcast in October 1991 despite attempts by the Police to take out high court injunctions to prevent it."
- Gareth Morris and Neil Goodwin.
Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X