Menwith Hill celebrated independence from Great Britain (1776) the week before the traditional
date - 4 July each year. Maybe this was because we were there to call for Independence FROM
America on that date. It was the annual demonstataion 'Independence FROM America' at the American
base at Menwith Hill. There has been a demonstration here since 1982.
Having had glorious hot summer weather for a lovely long time, on 4 July it changed! Very strong
winds and the heavens opened.
About 200 people came which was more people than last year. Perhaps this was because Mark Thomas
(comedian and political activist) and Peter Tatchell (Human rights activist) were the guest
speakers as well as an excellent 'line up' of musicians. This year the general theme was in line
with the World Cup - the goal is Independence FROM America.
Steve Hill (Daftasadrum) started the demonstration with a wonderful drumming workshop. The
demonstration was hosted by Martin Schweiger (doctor, activist and Quaker). Moira Hill and Peter
Kenyon read the Declaration of Independence FROM America (amended original version).
Mark Thomas spoke and was Mark Thomas and signed copies of 'the Peoples Manifesto'. Sadly Peter
Tatchell could not come, having rung on the morning of the demonstration to say that he had a
ferocious migraine. People signed a get well card at the demonstration which we sent.
Mark handed in a large Red Card which people had signed adding inspirational messages to Mary
O'brien as to why Menwith Hill should go. Whistles were blown as this was happening. (We had
writen to Mary O'Brien to say we would like her to receive the Red Card - David Elliott (RAF
Liaison officer) replied saying they were both at a prior engagement and that a representative of
the Ministry of Defence Police Agency would receive it.
If anyone hasn't heard Roy Bailey before (socialist folk singer - he has a website) then you missed
something very special. East Lancs Clarion Choir sang unaccompanied some lovely songs. The
wonderful folk band Seize the Day played while the heavens opened and a band from Preston played
before we walked round the base.
Dave Bevan and his excellent team provided wonderful food throughout.
The walk was special in that we had retrieved a small civil liberty (a bit of a struggle!). North
Yorkshire police (NYP) have prevented the traditional walk round the base for the past three years
by putting on conditions (Public Order Act 1986). CAAB contacted Liberty once again and this year
with their help NYP agreed that we could walk round Menwith Hill and further more they would help;
our argument that it is the duty of the police to enable protest as protest is one of our Human
Rights ('right to assemble' and 'freedom of expression'). We had carefully liaised with NYP and
had met senior officers before to stress these points.
The police were excellent - polite, helpful and courteous (how effective are we being?!!!!) and as
they used to be at these demonstrations. Please refer to the letter we wrote to Aubrey Smith
(Chief Inspector NYP). There were very few police visible (all tucked up on the base), no police
horses or police vehicles etc etc or any 'evidence gathering' officers to be seen. Police on
cycles helped with the walk. The traffic was 'sheparded' by police on motor bikes.
Many thanks to everyone who helped to make the demonstration possible. We are now planning the
next annual demonstration (Keep Space for Peace) at Menwith Hill - more details nearer the time.
MENWITH HILL NEEDS CONSTANT ATTENTION: Please come to the weekly demonstration outside the main
entrance to Menwith Hill - every Tuesday evening (6-8 pm) - if you haven't been before - come and
learn what they do there....