Battle of Brightlingsea

5th October 1995

A few days after Derrick Day's death, because of the time of the tides, live animal export shipment began in the evening. This was not a common occurrence as there were more campaigners in the evenings. It was now getting dark early, so the shipment would come into Brightlingsea in darkness. Also, with the death of Derrick Day, the campaigners were even more determined to stop the shipments. The demonstrators also thought Mr. Mills and Mr. Oliver were showing disrespect by bringing in the convoy so soon.

The convoy came through the town at a terrific pace. The momentum of the trucks, combined with the huge police presence preceeding the convoy, drove through the town. There was not a chance that the campaigners could stand in their way, some tried but were brushed aside. Disappointment set in, as the live exports arrived at the port. More residents arrived from the town upset that the convoy had passed through so quickly. It was decided by the campaigners that the now empty lorries in the port would not be allowed to come out that night. Demonstrators blocked the roads, so more police were called in. Police vehicles were positioned along the road to pass on information to the Officer in Charge.

Then the Officer's in charge that night decided to walk the length of the demonstration to check for numbers and obstacles. When they got to the Community Centre they called the lorries to roll. The lorries started their engines and reved, black smoke belching from their cold exhausts. The police lines in front of the lorries started to move forward, the lorries moving up behind with headlights full on. The police surveillance started their cameras rolling. The empty lorries sped past. When the campaigners stood in the road the police moved them off by force, the lorries could not be stopped.

After the lorries Mr. Mills came through in his range rover wearing a yellow helmet and his briefcase placed strategically at the window. Missiles were thrown, scuffles started, arrests were being made. Bottles were thrown, some said petrol was in the bottles. I never witnessed any bottles with petrol and saw no flames.

More police vans drove through. There was more trouble further up the road, the leaders of B.A.L.E were being arrested. More missiles were thrown, a police van narrowly missed some protestors. The police jumped out and started to pull people from the crowds, pushing them into the back of police vans.

A bottle hit the screen of a police van, ricochetted off the van and hit me in the face. It smashed on my camera which was at my eye, glass shreds covered my face, liquid running down my chin. Could I smell petrol? No beer! My camera would not work, I tasted blood, I decided it was time to go home. I suffered a few cuts to my face, the lens on the camera was damaged, it could have been worse.

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