May 7, 2018 - In the UK, since the start of March, campaigners living at the Pont Valley Protection Camp, between Dipton and Leadgate in County Durham, have been protesting against opencast coal mining by the Banks Group, which has only until June 3 to extract coal from the mine before its planning permission runs out.
The camp was set up after petitions, open letters to the Secretary of State and the discovery of a protected species of great crested newt all failed to stop the mining from going ahead.
Between April 19-21, the camp was evicted by bailiffs and seven campaigners were arrested. They have complained that during the eviction, bailiffs showed little consideration for individuals’ safety and subjected then to continuous abusive and sexist behaviour, which the police who were in attendance took no action against.
Instead, police officers used ‘section 35’ dispersal powers, intended for tackling anti-social behavior, to disperse witnesses from the area.
One campaigner says she was dragged out of the site by a digger, which was attached to a chain that enforcement officers wrapped around the ‘lock on tube’ that was around her arm, while watched over by police officers. In a campaign press release, she said:
Campaigners also say women were referred to as “butch dykes” and that enforcement officers discussed them in an overtly sexual manner. This kind of “sexualized violence” against demonstrators is reminiscent of allegations against Greater Manchester Police’s specialist public order Tactical Aid Unit at anti-fracking protests at Barton Moss.
Another protester said that enforcement officers threatened to “jump on top of me and break my arm in the lock-on and drag me out”. Others in tunnels constructed at the site say they were threatened with the use of diggers to remove them.
Local resident June Davison said:
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