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First 9-11 Protest for the Brent Travellers

After the attacks of 9-11 seven years ago, the residents of Lynton Close trepidly stepped out of their site to March along the North Circular Rd in Brent (North London).

They weren’t marching to remember the killing of innocent people thousands of miles away, they were marching to try to prevent the intimidation, eviction and destruction of homes on their site in Brent.
This isn’t a planning dispute, or over an illegal encampment, this is a local authority Gypsy site.
The next two families due for eviction belong to Sarah and Theresa, what is their crime you might ask. What have they done to be evicted from the place they have been living nearly all their lives? The answer is, nothing, they just can’t get a license to stay on the piece of tarmac that they currently live on, although they were born in the UK, grew up in Brent, their children were born in London and they have lived all their lives in a caravan or trailer. All they want is to be left alone to bring up their children in peace. There are more than thirty families living on the site and most are related in some way or other, so where should they go?

In the way that when people were flooded out of their houses and had to live in a caravan for a while they couldn’t accept it as home, if a person who has lived their whole life in a caravan is told to live in a house, they also can’t accept that.

The next person due for eviction is Kathleen, what has she or her children done to deserve this, nothing, but the heartless site manager (Anita Ayeh Kumi) is looking for a place to park her car.
So for the first time in their lives they decided to go on a march. As they walked along the London North Circular Road, passing drivers read the signs “Brent Stop Evictions“ and “Travellers Rights are Human Rights” and drivers sounded their horns in support. Other signs read “Brent Council Bad” and “Human Rights for Travellers”. The mood was excited and the feeling was of optimism. Maybe things could change.
The police kept a respectful distance and gave the group some room to express themselves as they chanted “Stop evictions Lynton Close” and poignantly “We are Humans”.
When the small group of about 18 reached the Brentfield Rd crossing they took the opportunity to cross the road a couple of times, not wanting to cause any unnecessary inconvenience to the never ending flow of traffic, but just wanting a few people to be made aware of what is happening to their powerless community.
At one point carried away in the moment and faced by the onslaught of the ever present traffic, the lights changed, no one noticed and the protesters stood before the ever hurtling bumpers of the frustrated traffic which had just managed to squeeze past the road works further up the road. Momentarily the atmosphere changed, and the police escort moved toward the protestors. The radio’s were out, and somewhere the back up police were firing up their engines, but there was never any real prospect of confrontation. Once the lights changed again the road was clear.
The next stop was Mahatma Gandhi House in Wembley, named after a person whose human rights stance brought the British Empire to its knees in India. How ironic the name seemed.
After the demonstration had been there for a while Helen Clitheroe came out and received a letter from the youngest of the protesters. Further chanting took place “Stop the evictions” and “we are humans” followed by several choruses of “We shall not be moved”, as the police looked on.
Finally some photos were taken in the shadow of Wembley Stadium, the lack of available land in the area and the fact that the Olympics have already swallowed up two sites in the East of London (and are threatening a third in Broxbourne) makes the imposing image of the Wembley Stadium (which can be seen from their site) like a ruthless crab waiting for it’s next victim.

Recently when challenged (at Willesden Magistrates Court) about finding a place for the Brent Travellers facing eviction, Linda Footer of Brent Council and their agents (Azadeh) proudly responded that they have places available for the dispossessed in Wales, not even the same country.
If that isn’t ethnic cleansing what is?
A spokes person said “This is our first ever demonstration, but if they don’t stop trying to evict members of our family without good reason, it won’t be our last and next time it will be bigger”.

Supported by : International Alliance of Inhabitants – The Gypsy Council Ltd –
Thames Valley Gypsy Association
Report and Photographs Joseph G. Jones Tel: 07756 917937