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Back with another one of those Black Blockin' Beats (Shannon!)

category clare | anti-war / imperialism | feature author Sunday December 07, 2003 01:24author by redflaremist/(i) - magpies Report this post to the editors

A bystander commented: 'They just ran down the hill into the jungle!'

- Grassroots

We spilled out and headed straight for the roundabout north of Lidl. Or is it Aldi? I'm not sure. We made a brief detour through the marsh & briars that was perhaps a slight error on our part. Sun Tzu says to defeat your enemy you must know the terrain. If only we had some of the local kids who joined in at the roundabout (and all masked up!) with us earlier on... the natives have good information...

"More Shannanigans" - IAWM Sit Down Protest

from report by Random Input Then the march continued down until it met a gardai roadblock of layers of barriers and sour pussed coppers. Also I noticed some suss looking dudes lurking at the end of the long lane on the right, who when people went up to the gate with cameras, moved off. Who were these mysterious strangers I wonder?

Get all sides of the story of D6 here....
Photos: 1     2     3 & video     4     5
Video: 1   2
Other Reports:
1   2   3   4   5   6

Grassroots Bloc report.

GNAW bus hit the road at 9.30am, bumped into the IAWM buses at Borris in Ossary. They told us they were going to leave Shannon at 4.15pm to go to Limerick. First we heard of it. Some people wanted go to, some didnt, as it turned out in the end it was after 6pm by the time we left Shannon and the driver took us straight back.

The buses were pulled over near Bunratty and flag poles and placard sticks were all confiscated. The outcome of this was that this demo was the "flattest" I have ever seen. Apart from 2 black flags, a Palestinian & Irish Flag, and a massive puppet dancing around, there was nothing above head height at all. Made a welcome change!

We spilled out and headed straight for the roundabout north of Lidl. Or is it Aldi? I'm not sure. We made a brief detour through the marsh & briars that was perhaps a slight error on our part. Sun Tzu says to defeat your enemy you must know the terrain. If only we had some of the local kids who joined in at the roundabout (and all masked up!) with us earlier on... the natives have good information...

We ended up coming into the tail of the IAWM march but kept our distance, staying separate. Then attempts were made to run through the forest into the industrial estate (bordering the airport) on a number of occasions. The cops threw people out of the forest but the good thing about these attempts (and this was post-mortem analysed on the bus home) was the de-arresting of people. It was good to see people grabbing onto others and not letting the Garda drag them back towards more Garda.

We then went to the next roundabout and the IAWM doubled back towards Lidl. We stayed there on the assumption that they were going to try and block the road further back.

There were a few "scuffles" at this roundabout. At one point we blockaded a Garda van that was trying to drive through us, then they tried to back away and we blocked them in as well at the back.

A motorist attempted to surge through the crowd but was surrounded by angry people. Other smaller incidents meant that for a while the temperature was kept high, a couple of black masked heads dragged signs from the new bridge into the roadway, and others hauled the red and white plastic roadwork barriers into the street. Again the Garda were grabbing people (not sure if they intended arresting them but support from the crowd was unwavering, everyone linked up and didnt let people go, it was very good)

Then some IAWM "stewards" came along and told us that the movement was leaving the area. We wanted them to hang on and keep moving around or maintain the blockade but from reports I think their blockade finished up at their appointed time of 4.15 or so.

There were another couple of attempts to get into the airport via the industrial estate, via the forest or the pedestrian bridge but there were too many Garda. Another black blocker was scaling the bridge but a Garda pushed him back down the steps. Another Garda who was chasing him from behind was headbutted accidentally when his colleague pushed the black blocker down the steps.

The second Garda was stumbling around in pain (hamming it up if you ask me) but the first Garda grabbed onto the protestor and wouldnt let him go, saying "you assaulted him, you assaulted him" when this was obviously bullshit. Again the crowd swarmed and wouldnt let the Garda drag him away - but he just wouldnt let go. More Garda arrived and it was getting messy... but it was only through the persistence of the crowd not to let the Garda take the protester that people were able to explain what happened, and he was freed after he gave his name and address (but still being held on by load of people).

Some others managed to get onto the bridge and approach the industrial estate but were stopped on the north side. After waiting for them we regrouped and then bunched up into lines (see one of the other reports for photos of this)

We then went up towards the first roundabout which the IAWM had vacated around an hour previously. There was a MASSIVE line of riot cops, yellow jackets, horses and special branchers there waiting for us, lined up to divert our march right back into Shannon town.

But as we approached the police line, people were getting adrenalised and we decided to try and break the line. I dont think the Garda really expected this, and as we pushed them back more and more of them arrived behind, turning into one big scrum (with them kicking the legs of people [including children] to beat them back). The shielded riot cops stepped in and formed a line (of sorts) with the plexiglass shields. At the east end of the line, a "Mountie" nearly trampled a couple of people with a bit of over-eager trotting about.

The line break didnt happen, we were knackered after it but the cops were knackered too - especially the riot cops. They dont seem to be fit or trained very well, they just look like normal Garda (fat, red-faced, big ears, incredibly stupid, etc) with big padding on. Nowhere near as organised or pyschologically prepared as their European counterparts. They just dont seem to be mentally able to think on their feet.

Best headfuck of the day was seeing a black blocker stick her sanitary pad onto the nice clean plexiglass shield of one of the cops...

We stayed there for a while, effectively closing off the roundabout (the line of cops was doing our job for us - nice one)

And then headed back for the bus ... and back to the Pale with Eddie the Deadly bus driver... a legend.

So overall I think we did OK. Seeing people push en masse against cop lines means they're not scared any more of the physical presence of the cops. Very important. Also the de-arresting was good.

As regards our secret master plan (if I told you I'd have to kill you) maybe we didnt even come anywhere near pissing distance, but its going to be very difficult to do that in future I think. In fact I imagine all demos at Shannon in future will take this format - regardless of whether its a blockade or just a straight boring non-direct action march. I think its a lot less work overall for the cops if they can keep people as far away from the airport as possible. Letting people anywhere near it at all just means possible runway invasions.

And the blockades as well. Perhaps not all roads closed, yes very frustrating, but it is important to be there and keep the issue on the map. Doubtlessly soon enough the US will "officially" start some other unjustifiable war (isnt all war unjustifiable??) and maybe we'll have the chance to strike while the iron is hot... and win.

author by pissivepublication date Sun Dec 07, 2003 00:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

nice report, What about actual people arrested, reports are conflicting any of your crowd not come home?

author by Davidpublication date Sun Dec 07, 2003 12:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Black pope at 6 that morning and another Black Bloc guy, Oisin i think, recognisable with his red dreds

author by Ciaron - Dublin Catholic Workerpublication date Sun Dec 07, 2003 16:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

CHAIRDE and many thanx for making your way to Shannon Airport today. The Pit Stop Ploughshares are banned from County Clare and are maintaining a solidarity vigil on the Limerick-Clare border. We are banned under bail conditions designed to restrict our civil rights, our freedom of movement and our ability to organise against Irish participation in this war on Iraq.

Shannon Airport remains a significant pit stop for the U.S. war machine in its ongoing invasion of Iraq. "The Examiner" and "The Times" report today that over 115,000 U.S. troops have passed through Shannon this year. 7,000 of these young men and women have made the return journey to the United States in body bags, with amputations & serious wounds, psychologically scarred with what they have done and what has been done to them. Like the first Gulf war veterans who preceeded them 10 years ago, some will return home wreak terror on America (eg. the Oklahoma Bomber and Washington Sniper both Gulf War vets), some will die slowly of depleted uranium radiation poisoning. some will suicide suddenly adding to the 10% of all U.S. casualties thus far. All will be abandoned by their Government and ruling elites who have used and abused them. When we come to Shannon Airport - we come in solidarity with these young Americans too!

We came to Shannon Airport on Februsary 3rd. to confront Irish complicity in the war on the Iraqi people. An Irish government that has turned Ireland into the door mat for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. An Irish government that has militarised a civilian airport.

We came to this place to enflesh a 3,000 year old prophesy form the book of Isaiah "to beat swords into ploughshares and study war no more". We came to build a shrine on Shannon's runway to the children of Iraq - threatened by the U.S. war machine. We came to disable a U.S. Navy war plane specifically designed to service a naval fleet that had enforced crippling sanctions on the children of Iraq - killing over 500,000 of them. We came to speak truth to power and tear through a web of lies. Lies so clealy exposed today! We were guided by the Holy Spirit and acted in a spirit of nonviolence & prayer.

Our action exposed that this war machine is not secure and it does not secure us! The Irish government responded to our nonviolent disarmament by deploying the Irish Army - making what had been covert, overt. The militarisation of Shannon Airport. Three U.S. corporations using Shannon to move troops responded by pulling out of Ireland in the height of the mobilisation for the fullscale invasion of Iraq. Media, politicians and the mysteriouslly motivated responded with an avalanche of slander & spin. Other good folks responded with the gifts of further nonviolent resistance and solidarity.

You are not alone today. We are on the border, Fintan Lane is in Limerick Prison, Michael Birmingham remains in Baghdad. Many of our brothers and sisters are in chains, before the courts and in custody in the U.S., Britain and Israel for nonviolent resistance to this war.

Most of the U.S. troops landing in Shannon are deployed from final combat traing at Fort Benning, Georgia. Two weeks ago, 10,000 U.S. citizens gathered at Ft. Benning to say no to the US Government's neverending war on the poor, the School of the Americas terrorist training camp at Ft. Benning and US weapons of mass destruction. 50 good folks trespassed into the base risking a minimum 6 monthy jail sentence in America's growing gulags (www.soaw.org)

We should draw heart from these good folks as they will draw heart from our efforts at Shannon today. They're in trouble for us, we're on the loose for them!

*Thursday Dec 11th. 7.30 pm -11.30 pm Benefeit Gig for Ploughshares Trial Fund - Mother Redcaps, near Christchurch, Dublin

*Monday Dec 15th. 9 am Sharp - Accompany the Pit Stop Ploughshares to the Four Courts - Under the Christmas Tree, Spirer, GPO, O'Connel St. Dublin

Related Link: http://www.ploughsharesireland.org
author by Eoin Dubskypublication date Sun Dec 07, 2003 16:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

*lol* I love the headline of this article! ;-D

Everyone seemed to be in high spirits yesterday at the protest. I guess we won't know for a few days how well the actual blockading went (i.e. how much disruption was caused). The police were well prepared, and Shannon being such a *maze* kept us on our toes -- trying to blockade this road, or that roundabout, or the other.

The moment a road was blocked, the police would direct trafic another direction, around another way. The DIY atmosphere on the day though meant that many people didn't bother follow the IAWM stewards. At times it seemed a bit crazy, but that creativity and diversity was probably a great strength in the end.

It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces (and so many unfamiliar ones too!!). Lets keep the heat on them now -- pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!!

author by UCD Lefty typepublication date Sun Dec 07, 2003 23:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

a few weeks ago UCDs SU decided that they would offer their 21,000+ students the chance to get involved in a good old fashioned protest. Despite moans from the FF lovin righties "I'm not against the whole war thing but..." we were allowed to splash out a colossal(!) €400 of student's money on renting a bus for the day.

a grand total of 40ish students decided to avail of this kind offer and even accounting for a few notable absentees due to conferences on the day by USI, SPs etc the turnout was quite disappointing. 2 many people just don't care. Even so we set off in high spirits.

an hour or so after the stopoff at Borris we got word that the Galway bus had been stopped and searched, with poster paints and flag poles etc confiscated under the auspices of some firearms legislation! i presume that it was "section 8" in question as every time on the day we questioned how crossing a bridge/walking/sitting/marching/singing/anything at all really was illegal; "i'll arrest you under s8" came the thick-headed reply.

anyways we arrived down at shannon at about 1 and promptly hooded up. the police presence at the first roundabout was a tad excessive with a line of approx 50 pigs lined up to prevent us from passing. despite requests, they wouldnt do a mexican wave for us so we went for a small detour through the shrubbery. this resulted in dead end so we trudged back through the woods and joined the main march.

once we arrived down at the entrance to the airport a line of 30 common or garden pigs stood defiantly, all of them kitted out in the classic red faced, clean shaven, block shoed thick country garda look. Behind them stood, in formation, 20 riot squad and then behind them again were 4 mounties. despite our resident chef and the food not bombs convoy, no amount of donuts would get them to move so a few of us took to running around trying to confuse & arouse suspicion. "isn't this the entrance to a public airport?" i wondered, "there must be a war on or sth..."

back up at one of the roundabouts was where all the fun started. firstly with those anarchist types who thought it would be rather amusing to hole in a ford transit pig mobile. it was. various scuffles ensued as we defended our roundabout for an hour or two with the occasional person plucked from the crowd only for said crowd to *peacefully* wade in to rescue their brethren.

all fun and games really but if 200+ pigs, riot squad, special branch,undercover units, mounted officers, pighorses, pigdogs not to mention the garda helicopter, dozens of paddywagons, squad cars and surveillance units is necessary to prevent a peaceful march of 500ish protestors then I'd hate to c how BigMac Mc Dowell will respond when Mr. Bush intends visiting these fair shores next May.

I'd like to say well done to the pigs on duty yesterday, thank you for protecting us from all those nasty soldiers and bombs inside the confines of the airport. to all those pigs who were just doing their job, just following orders, just holding down their position, just earning an honest days wage i hope you can all sleep peacefully.

you are all a fuc*ing disgrace. you are despicable human beings. how you can justify doing such a job i do not know. people in iraq, in afghanistan are being killed every single day. yet you are paid vast overtime bonuses to prevent irish people from exercising their democratic right to protest. in order to "protect" georgies killers; you pull people in wheelchairs off the road, you push young children over, then kick them while they are on the ground. you threaten people with arrest for crossing a footbridge! for standing in the middle of the road. for holding a banner. or even for trying to deliver a letter of protest to the warport authorities. shame on you, you are complict in the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent men, women and children. champions of democracy? my arse - you are all little mini-Macs - fascist dictators with big ideas and small minds

...highlight of the day though had to be as 5 of us danced back up the dualler towards our bus. we were escorted by with 3 pigs, a paddy wagon and a riot squad officer each! now i know some of my moves are killer but seriously...

author by SP member in UCDpublication date Mon Dec 08, 2003 12:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The role of the cops is given a good assesment in the above article. We clearly see that the Gardaí are not 'neutral' or 'only doing their job' or 'only enforcing the law'. They are committed to surpressing the opposition to the war- why else would they act with such gusto in atacking protesters, kicking people on the ground, pushing people over, attacking diabled people and children, and general harassment.

There were no 'notable absences' from the SP in UCD. We did not have a conference on saturday. On the UCD bus there were 4 SP members- a few others were on the IAWM bus from Dublin. I would question why there was only 1 sabbatical officer and one other member of the executive, where were the others?

author by BBpublication date Mon Dec 08, 2003 12:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This from a supposedly RRRRRRRRRRRRRevolutionary Party which supposedly has hundreds of members. Where were the rest of your Party Leadership? for that matter, where were the rest of your Party Membership????

author by Anthony - Dublin GNAWpublication date Mon Dec 08, 2003 16:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It was a long day. Interestingly, it started with us boarding the bus at Liberty Hall as a shady character filmed us using a video camera held at waist height while he hid behind a Dublin Bus shelter.

On the long journey down, we used the time to split up into affinity groups of about 10 each and to debate and decide on possible tactics. Each affinity group chose a delegate to represent our position when the delegates met to discuss tactics and plans for the group as a whole.

There was a garda checkpoint near Hurler's Cross and the buses were searched by the gardaí. The gardaí used their time to rip material from banners so that they could confiscate the poles which they claimed could be used as offensive weapons. Needless to say, the irony was pointed out to them that there was aircraft carrying much more offensive weapons passing through the Shannon area on a much more regular basis.

When we arrived at the car-park next to Lidl, we got off the bus but left straight away as we agreed to do so beforehand. There was no point hanging around letting our energy and enthusiasm drain away as had happened on previous occasions.

We noticed that the road which we used on previous occasions to go to the airport was closed off at the roundabout next to Lidl. We marched on up towards the Smithstown roundabout (the next one up) and saw a line of police stretched across the entrance to the roundabout. It appeared that they wouldn't let us continue on our way so after some quick consultation between the affinity groups, we decided to cut across the fields rather than being penned in.

This turned out to be a bad move. We ended up jumping over drains and pushing through thick bushes and trees. All the more annoying when we discovered that we had just wasted our time and energy as the main IAWM contingent was allowed pass through the roundabout on their way to the airport along the new road. After stumbling around for a while, we came back out on the old road and walked at a brisk pace until we caught up with the back of the IAWM section at the Drumageely roundabout.

By now, we had recovered some of our energy and we decided to make a break for it. We knew that there was no point continuing straight ahead as the gardaí would have blocked the main road into the airport just where the road crosses the little drainage canal. There was little point in continuing onwards to where the gardaí had already closed off the road. The only way we could be effective in any way was to block off the traffic that they were directing through the industrial estate just to the north.

So, at the Drumageely roundabout, we jumped over the barriers and ran through the wooded section. I got a shock when I realised that I was the first one to make it through. Though there were only two cops on the grassy section on the other side, I'm not the bravest person in the world. Nor am I noted for my fast decision-making ability and I was a momentarily flummoxed about what do next. As it turned out, there was little I could do as there was a big wire fence running parallel to the road and preventing access to the industrial estate. The two cops were quickly joined by many more of their colleagues and I and the few others who had come through the wooded section had no choice but to turn back and rejoin everyone else on the road.

So, after our attempts at not letting the police corral us, we ended up at the garda blockade right where they wanted us to be. It was maddeningly frustrating. I didn't want to be giving up one of my rare Saturdays off work to travel all the way down to Shannon for nothing. By my estimation, there was close to 400 of us altogether but there was nothing effective that we could do. A few GNAWers attempted to head north toward the industrial estate (this time, closer to the drainage canal) only to be blocked by the same fence that had blocked us near the Drumageely roundabout.

We all hung around for a while before heading back the way we came. We stopped off again at the Drumageely roundabout where I could see traffic pass through the roundabout at the edge of the industrial estate just north of where we stood.

At about 3.30, a large contingent of the IAWM headed back along the new road to the Smithstown roundabout, leaving most of the GNAWers and a number of IAWMers (including Tim H and Mick O'S). While there, we saw a few cars approach from the old airport road that we'd earlier walked along but then turn in toward the old Shannon town centre. This must have been when the police realised that the Smithstown roundabout was to be blockaded and that they would need alternative routing for the traffic.

We stayed there for close to an hour with a few minor incidents occurring which I wasn't involved in. Both groups were staying in touch with the others blockading the Smithstown roundabout and later on, we were tempted to move on up to reinforce the others when we heard that the cops were starting to get rough at their blockade. However we realised that since a large distance separated the two roundabouts, the blockade would be broken by the time we got there and we wouldn't be blocking anything while we were walking between the two roundabouts.

Meanwhile, it was quite frustrating to hear that traffic was being diverted along the "bumpy road" which meant that there was a route from the new Shannon town centre through the old town centre and that traffic was possibly going through the point where the guards had earlier closed off the road with railings. We would have had to split up and send some people back to that point to stop this happening but we had barely enough numbers to hold the roundabout entrance. We were occupying the south and west entries but the gardaí still had the north exit leading toward the industrial estate barricaded and all the time their numbers on the other side of the barricade was increasing and traffic from outside Shannon town would still have been able to gain access to the airport by going through the Ballymurtagh roundabout and the industrial estate.

Eventually we started back towards town. I really didn't think anything could be achieved at this stage. The main IAWM contingent were already back at the car-park so we had even fewer numbers, it was getting dark and I was fairly tired. A few younger people managed to get around the cops and cross over on the pedestrian bridge to only to be met by guards on the other side.

Back on our way again, I tucked into some tasty Food Not Bombs and had a nice chat with co-founder Keith McHenry. As mentioned in other accounts, there was a huge presence of riot police at the Smithstown roundabout making sure that we had no chance of blocking off any section of it.

I was tired and disappointed as I got on the bus. There had been too many cops and far too few of us. We had no opportunity to really stop traffic getting into or out of the airport or to even cause any useful diversions which would force the state to keep spending money in securing the airport.

Being a member of GNAW, people might expect me to bitch about the IAWM. I won't. Not because I'm not sectarian - I'm not - but because as far as I could see, the majority of those who made the effort to come down to Shannon made a damn fine attempt at making the best of a difficult situation. I have nothing but respect for all those who were willing to participate at personal risk to themselves in a mass direct action. Blockading the airport and the threat of further blockades and disruptions would DIRECTLY affected the income of Aer Rianta and would make them pay a cost for their decision to militarise a civilian airport.

For further analysis and commentary, check the related link.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=62573#comment55493
author by Deirdre - Ptistop Ploughsharespublication date Mon Dec 08, 2003 17:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the article, it's well written. Just for the record, I never argued that the cops were neutral. I have had much experience of the process of arrest and interrogation, and it is clear to me their function is not neutral and that they are used for purposes of social control. I am familiar with the arguments about this and have been for years. What I actually argued that resorting to the type of invective I cited was a lowering of standards for the movement, although the report was very good overall. I always think it is important to remember that most of us have a level of complicity in the running of the state, even if not by overt choice. Most of us pay or have paid taxes, for a start, which fund the state and its current set of deceptions. Without the ability to remind ourselves that we are, or have been, a part of the system we resist, we invariably become self-righteous, shrill and hollow as activists. My point was that hitting out at one particular group of workers, whatever their function, by the use of caricature is lowest common denominator stuff and debate needs to rise to a higher level. I never used the word 'neutral' - there is no such thing in this country anyway.

I find it interesting that comments that are not totally affirmative of this attitude are taken off the wire. It is disappointing, as this is a forum that I normally respect, despite the trolls, of which I am not one. Old chestnuts like 'guards as pigs' are just not creative or funny anymore, although they're fine when you're fifteen. They are jaded cliches, and more creative verbal critiques are what I was appealing for. Will this be taken off as well?

author by reeuqpublication date Mon Dec 08, 2003 20:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the day of the shannon protest was the same as the USI national council-exective was torn on who would go to which event. I'm sure you would have seen many more faces from the union's exec if national council was not on.

author by Davidpublication date Mon Dec 08, 2003 22:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

But the atmosphere afterwards is far more positive then at any other action I have been involved in. Despite the fact that we did not succeed in our stated objectives, those of us who participated in a meaningful way (the majority of activists present) can hold our heads up and walk away with some energy and positive feeling from this event.

The air of unpredictability around Shannon on the day kept people on their toes and interested and kept hope alive.
For me there is nothing worse than standing around behind some barrier shouting tired slogans at those who are being paid not to listen.

author by Bowiepublication date Tue Dec 09, 2003 00:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There were 5 SP members from UCD at Shannon. 1 travelled on another bus leaving from Dublin. Not a bad turnout in my opinion in comparison to other groups in UCD.

author by karen eliotpublication date Tue Dec 09, 2003 16:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

more pics of shannon demo






author by karen eliotpublication date Tue Dec 09, 2003 16:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

yep more pics






author by ger mulvypublication date Wed Jan 14, 2004 14:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

lads whats the story with the protest? who was there n were there any arrests?

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