An Alternative Media 

 

Whilst the state and the mainstream media tried to construct a narrative of the protesters being outsiders and troublemakers, the local community took control of its own story about Barton Moss through livestreaming platforms such as Bambuser. The response to this from GMP was as brutal as their response to the protest itself. 

 

The sophistication of the protest in its use of various media platforms was a key component to the campaign’s success. One protestor, who regularly attended the protest walks, was quick

to point out. “The location and the route was a flaw” he explained “but in actual fact they had never come up against the sort of sophistication of these protectors… which really laid them bare and made them look very, very amateurish, especially when compared to the policing that I know that goes on in communities.”[1]

 

It is well documented that social media is beneficial for organising protests as a local environmental activist claimed, “the answer is Facebook and Twitter. We could never have organised everything ourselves. Even email couldn't keep up there was so much going on.” But it is platforms like Bambuser[2] that perhaps proved most useful. 

Bambuser enables you to live stream video from your mobile devices. Many protestors filmed protests to record police behaviour. The benefit to Bambuser is that the footage isn’t recorded on to the device. So, whilst phones can be confiscated as evidence for months until a case gets to court, by using Bambuser the footage is stored online and can be accessed by anyone at any time. GMP tried to counter this by targeting people live streaming, confronting them and trying to switch off the device whilst they questioned them. In some cases, it was this footage that drew people to the protest out of their anger at what they were seeing. 

 

The many hours of footage recorded in this way has been used by solicitors representing the protestors. Indeed, the relationship between firms such as Lizars and the campaign has been very fruitful. Lizars’ Simon Pook explains how this worked, “We work very closely with the protestors, community groups, Green and Black Cross to ensure swift exchange of information. We can be seen at many camps across the country obtaining evidence and holding the police and state to account where their conduct is found wanting.” 

 

When the protesters arrived in Salford at the start of the campaign no one knew what impact they would have but the state and the mainstream media were quick to try and construct a narrative about who they were. The perspective of GMP Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts was that "the majority of people who are arriving on the site are not there to protest against fracking but are there to disrupt and intimidate the local community and to antagonise police…" In many ways it was media platforms such as Bambuser along with independent publications such as Salford Star that enabled protestors to challenge this perception.

Notes

[1]Taken from an interview on April 19th2014 with a protester who lives in Manchester 

[2]Bambuser is a free to use live video streaming platform that enables users to upload live video recorded through mobile devices such as phones and tablets - http://bambuser.com/v/4450505