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Greenham Common Peace Camp

 

The Free Festivals and Peace Convoy.

1981-1982.


The convoys progress- 1982

The 4th of July Declaration
    A few days after the occupation. on July 4th, in an ironic historical reverse-twist, Peace Camps all over Britain declared their independence from the US government, demanding "No annihilation, without representation "
A declaration of The Free People of Albion read in part,


"Since the Second world War, The countries of Britain have been occupied by the armed forces of a foreign power, the United States of America. an occupation for which the‘’ consent of the British People has never been sought or given “. . . it is time for the People to act in the defence of the Planet Earth and the security of future generations.
So bad has been the record of the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom in this suicidal arms race. we are left with no alternative but to throw off the power of both these governments and to declare here at Greenham Common the People’s free State of Greenham "

photo courtesy of Luke B

 

    The CND’s reaction to these Rainbow rabble who’d actually used the direct action tactics hallowed in Disarmament Tradition was unenthusiastic. Though they’d netted at least $lOO,OOO at the giant Glastonbury Peacefest a few weeks before. the most CND would give the occupiers was $60.
    Then, when Base Command decided to cut down all the trees outside the fence, and the occupiers calmly cut down a bit of the fence in response, the CND London office bowed to frantic calls from the U.S. embassy about "the wild, petrol bomb. throwing mob attacking the Base perimeter."— and cancelled their Chair woman's dinner engagement at Rainbow Camp. Other CND'ers gave interviews to the press duely dissociating themselves from the "violence," falsely suggesting the "real" protesters of the Women's Vigil condemned cutting down the fence. After 2 weeks of this, the consensus among the Peace Convoy was that it was time to move on. A small Rainbow Camp remained whilst the rest embarked anew upon the Festival Trail.

 

Trail of Anarchy
   The battered convoy that rolled out of Greenham , leaving several prisoners 'detained at her majesties pleasure,' was more determined than ever to resist police hassles. But Britain's nine daily papers who normally ignore all countercultural manifestations decided the Peace Convoy was good 'Silly Season' material and suddenly started headlining its progress in tones of alarm more appropriate for Attila and his Huns .
The first week of August found the accounts in the yellow press of 'armed hippie convoys' wreaking havoc across the countryside as they headed towards East Anglia. Before they were well underway a confrontation developed when local cops decided to run checks on some of the bus licence plates. When the licence plates of one bus turned out to have been lifted from another bus, which had been reported stolen, an arrest attempt led to police van headlights being smashed with axe handles and one constable being slightly injured.

The uproar that followed this scuffle might well have befitted a minor insurrection and it grew. During the night the convoy split into columns which sped across the darkened countryside with cops in hot pursuit, until an entire paddy wagon containing 9 porkers unaccountably hit a patch of petroleum on the pavement, and spun into a ditch, disabling vehicle and occupants alike. From newspaper accounts it was impossible to tell that, in fact, the Peace Convoy had nothing to do with the oil slick being there (and even helped the cops out of the ditch, offering them tea and calling an ambulance.

    Such was the panic created by these stories that one busload, separated from the rest , was trying to get some sleep in a Cambridge parking lot , they found themsleves rudely awakened , surrounded by police who, believing press accounts of shotguns and cross bows, came armed with rifles and backed up by snipers. Yet at the convoy's destination, The East Anglian Free festival, the cops were quite friendly, having heard via Their own independent grapevine how their their colleagues in blue had been helped out of the ditch, rather than into it , by the Peace Convoy,
   At the new encampment on riverside common land outside Norwich, local inhabitants interviewed by the press by-and-large welcomed the festival and associated events like the street party held by town squatters despite the menacing stories in the news about the Convoy.
   After East Anglia, some went on to Sizewell Nuclear Plant, others to the Psylocibin Celebration. Among the hardcore, there was considerable sentiment to rendezvous again at the Greenham Rainbow Camp in Fall. Its not over.


Convoy Steve remembers The East Anglian festies well.

I was there at Eaton-by-the-river (known forever by all who were there as Eaten-by-the-mosquito's), it was quite a laid back affair as I recall, the site was by a river (obviously !) and was covered in reeds and was quite soggy, one entrance in with a token van full of cops who sat there all day playing cards, and mainly convoy types in attendance with a few curious locals popping in every now and then to stock up on combustible commestables of a herbal variety. One thing I do remember is a guy who's name escapes me , set up a marquee and ran it as a video cinema and showed the film 'Convoy' which went down well with the assembled hordes!.

This was the first of several festies that the Convoy attended in East Anglia that summer, in fact the East Anglian festy organisers were a mite concerned about the prospect of their carefully organised events being over-run by the evil gun convoy (sic) that they sent a delegation to Eaton to pow-wow with us. A fella called Gurn was one of them, a big bearded biker (who actually turned out to be a really nice guy and became a good friend) who sat down with bumpy and the crew and thrashed out a rules of engagement type thing so that we could all go to the festies and not fuck up their plans. After Eaton there were 4 other events , one at Lyng), one at somewhere that I can't remember, one at Rougham (the famous Rougham tree fair so well documented along with many others in a book called 'The Sun in the East', well worth a look if you can get a copy), and one at Sizewell. Most of these were low key local affairs but great fun nevertheless and a tribute to the dedication of the East Anglian freaks who put them on.

Greenham Common festivals and the Peace Convoy 1982-83


Travellers Tales how the freaks outsmarted the fuzz at Greenham common.

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