A Protest Walk

 

The slow walk was a method of direct-action protest that was an everyday activity, legal due to Barton Moss Road being a public footpath, and accessible to anyone who wanted to participate. It had an impact that not only slowed the drilling taking place at Barton Moss, but revealed contradictions in the legal system as GMP attempted facilitate IGas at the expense of the local community.

 

The slow walk method of protest involved walking with the trucks to and from the drilling site along Barton Moss Road. This delayed the companies’ work-rate at the site, giving each    

protestor the sense that they had accomplished something significant. Providing protestors with a more positive and active experience than usual for a demonstration. It also helped generate a sense of camaraderie between them, a point echoed by local residents and campaigners from further a field that lived at the camp during the protests. In the words of one experienced protestor, who had been part of the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest and lived on the camp site at Barton Moss: 

 

"The people of Salford turned out in support of our attempts to prevent IGas from fracking at Barton moss. They came every morning and walked in front of lorries with us, they were arrested with us, they were brutalised by police with us. When we were arrested, they came to police stations in solidarity with us. They have attended our court cases to support us. Many locals offered showers, meals and beds for the night if we needed them. They brought us goods and blankets and all sorts of things the camp needed. The love and solidarity from local residents were amazing, in fact, I and many others formed strong bonds with many during the campaign at Barton moss, for me to such a degree that I couldn't leave them and remained in Manchester after our camp was disbanded. The love, support and solidarity shown to us by the local community, many of who were attending their very first protest was incredible. I have no doubt that if or when the frackers return this community will be more than ready to resist.”

 

Local activists started the anti-fracking protests at Barton Moss and people from all over the country soon arrived to swell the number of people staying at the camp because of their own concerns about environmental degradation. On any night there would be between 20 & 30 protestors on the camp. Those staying at the camp were a mix of people from the local area and from further afield yet were labeled as being outsiders by both the police and the mainstream media. It was, however, the relationship between those staying at the camp and the wider community that was most significant in enabling the daily protests and the overall anti-fracking campaign to grow as a local resident explained: "The relationship between the Protectors[1] who came to live on the camp and the local residents was electric.  Without the Protectors, locals wouldn’t have had the knowledge and skills in how to survive, how to protest, legal knowledge, how to work together for the greater cause. Overall a phenomenal, dynamic experience that changed the lives of the local residents forever. It was like the cavalry coming. It was confirmation that we were doing the right thing in trying to save our Moss and showed we weren’t alone in trying to stop the destruction of the environment. It made everything change and our determination to continue the fight is resolute."[2]

 

Notes

[1]During the protests at Barton Moss the protestors who stayed at the camp came to be known as Protectors

[2]Taken from an interview on March 20th2014 with a protester who lives in Cadishead close to the camp at Barton Moss