York & Leeds/Bradford Feature
With the Government making a decision on replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system soon, Yorkshire activists have been busy having their say.
Demonstrators from all across the country, including York, made their way to London for a national demonstration on February 24th. The vote date was then announced as being March 14th, and so activity was stepped up a gear with Leeds Quakers joining a larger group of Quakers, including four from York, in a blockade of Faslane on March 3rd/4th/5th.
About 40 people held a Meeting for Worship outside Faslane nuclear base. After this, 10 Friends were arrested whilst upholding Peace Testimony by non-violently blocking the road. All protesters were subsequently released with the usual warning letters.
Then on March 11th/12th Leeds University sent a small group up to Faslane. But despite these small numbers and the wet weather, a very visible presence was maintained on both days.
On the day of the vote, a number of actions were called for across the country, including a rally in Bradford and a benefit gig in York.
A group of around 50 campaigning Vikings from York plan on visiting Faslane on March 18th and welcome more people to join them. The group will include residents and students alike. One Viking described the planned blockade as a "peaceful and playful act of resistance."
Activists across the country denounced Britain's Trident as illegal and immoral, and called for disarmament of the country's weapons of mass destruction, as the Commons set to vote on the government's plans to renew the ballistic missile submarine-based nuclear deterrent.
In Scotland, activists attempted to occupy the roof of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. Whilst four were arrested before they could reach the roof, a lone activist managed to reach the canopy over the front of the building. He unfurled a banner reading, "WHATEVER THEY VOTE TRIDENT IS STILL WRONG". A large contingent of students from Universities of Stirling and Edinburgh inflated a life-size bin bag Trident, bearing the words "Block the Bomb", at Faslane gate [photos]. The action resulted in four arrests.
In London, 9 activists from Block the Builders and the Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp(aign) blockaded Parliament Square, as the Trident replacement debate began in Parliament, using a model of a Trident Missile and concrete-filled bins. The nine were charged with "obstruction of the highway" and "participating in an unauthorised demonstration" (SOCPA) and will appear at Horseferry Road magistrates court on 27 March [photos: 1 | 2 video: 1]. Later in the day, hundreds of people descended on Parliament Square for a rally, called by CND, and a "fish on bicycles" themed Critical Mass bike ride [photos: 1 | 2].
The previous day had seen Greenpeace activists scale a large floating crane moored next to Parliament and hang a banner suggesting that our prime minister is rather keen on WMD [photo].
An anti-Trident rally was held in Bradford in the evening, with several speakers all calling for a vote against renewing Trident [photos].
Meanwhile, around a hundred Nottingham residents are busy planning a trip to Faslane. The group will aim to prevent access and disrupt the base over a two day period, 31 March to 1 April. There will be a "Troops Out - No Trident" march in Oxford next Saturday, 17 March, to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war. Block the Builders have also called a blockade of AWE Aldermaston (Britain's WMD factory) for 19 March.