Stonehenge and civil liberties

Remembering the Stonehenge Free Festival 37 Years On, and the Video of Last Year’s Virtual Stonehenge Festival

21.6.21

My thoughts on the summer solstice, 37 years after the last Stonehenge Free Festival, as ‘Managed Open Access’, in place since the 15-year exclusion zone came to an end in 2000, was cancelled for the second year running because of Covid (although some revellers turned up anyway). Also included: the video of last year’s ‘Virtual Stonehenge Free Festival’, organised by Neil Goodwin, in which videos of musicians who performed online last year during lockdown are interspersed with footage of the Stonehenge Free Festival, travellers and the Beanfield.

36 Years Since the Battle of the Beanfield, the Tories Remain Committed to Eradicating the Nomadic Way of Life

1.6.21

Today marks the 36th anniversary of the Battle of the Beanfield, when the police, under Margaret Thatcher, destroyed, with unprecedented violence, a convoy of vehicles containing men, women and children, as they tried to make their way to Stonehenge to set up what would have been the 12th annual Stonehenge Free Festival. Despite the trauma caused that day, the Tories continued to persecute Travellers, passing punitive legislation in 1986 and 1994, and now, under Priti Patel, are seeking to outlaw the entire nomadic way of life through a draconian clampdown on “trespass” in the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The Dangerous Authoritarian Threat Posed by Priti Patel to Our Right to Protest and Dissent

14.3.21

My response to the police violence at the peaceful vigil for Sara Everard on Clapham Common, and its curious timing, coinciding with the second reading of home secretary Priti Patel’s horribly authoritarian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021, which seeks to legislate meaningful protest out of existence.

Thoughts on the Summer Solstice – and Video of The Four Fathers’ Set for the Virtual Stonehenge Free Festival

22.6.20

My thoughts on the summer solstice this year, as COVID-19 kept revellers from Stonehenge for the first time since the 1990s, when an exclusion zone imposed after the Battle of the Beanfield was in place. Also included: a video of my band The Four Fathers playing a set for the Virtual Stonehenge Free Festival set up by my friend Neil Goodwin to tide us through these times of isolation.

It’s 35 Years Since the Battle of the Beanfield; Where Do We Go Now?

1.6.20

It’s 35 years since 1,400 police, on the instructions of Margaret Thatcher, violently crushed a convoy of men, women and children trying to get to Stonehenge to establish what would have been the 12th annual Stonehenge Free Festival. The Battle of the Beanfield remains one of the most indefensible episodes of state violence in our lifetimes, and, while it didn’t crush dissent, it paved the way for sustained efforts to do so on the part of successive governments.

Change the World! A Life in Activism: I Discuss Stonehenge, the Beanfield, Guantánamo and Environmental Protest with Alan Dearling

29.4.20

An interview about my activism — involving Stonehenge and the Battle of the Beanfield, Guantánamo, the housing ‘regeneration’ industry in the UK, and the currently unfolding environmental crisis — as published in Gonzo Weekly and International Times, based on questions from the publisher and activist Alan Dearling.

“First They Came for the Travellers”: Priti Patel’s Chilling Attack on Britain’s Travelling Communities

15.11.19

My condemnation of Priti Patel’s disgraceful attack on Britain’s Gypsy and traveller community, in which she is calling for new powers for the police to be able to immediately confiscate the vehicle of “anyone whom they suspect to be trespassing on land with the purpose of residing on it” – a policy change that the police themselves don’t even want, as they recognise that the main problem is the lack of site provision, a requirement that was repealed by the Tories in 1994. I urge all decent people to rise up against this foul government, and also to be aware of where a far-right drift in government can lead.

The Significance of the High Court Ruling That the Police’s London-Wide Ban on Extinction Rebellion Was “Unlawful”

12.11.19

My report on the welcome news last week that the High Court ruled that a decision by the Metropolitan Police to impose a blanket ban on Extinction Rebellion in London last month was unlawful – and my warning that we need to be vigilant, and to ensure that no draconian new law is introduced, as happened in the 1980s and 1990s, after the Battle of the Beanfield and Castlemorton, with the Public Order Act and the Criminal Justice Act.

Photos of WOMAD 2019: Awareness of the Global Environmental Crisis Hovers Over Three Days of Sunshine and Great World Music

3.8.19

My review of this week’s WOMAD world music festival in Wiltshire, looking particularly at how, although it was a wonderful festival, the global environmental crisis hung over proceedings, as, to my mind, it hovers over everything these days, demanding that we get involved in bringing down the entire suicidal capitalist system that is destroying us.

This Summer Solstice, The Party’s Over; Now It’s Time to Save the Planet

21.6.19

In this year’s article marking the summer solstice, I contrast how the free festival pioneers urged revellers to “leave no trace”, in contrast to today’s throwaway culture, and, looking at the bigger picture, I urge anyone interested in the cycle of the seasons that Stonehenge so vividly represents to urgently get involved in environmental activism to try to prevent the worst effects of an already unfolding and unprecedented man-made environmental crisis that requires the whole of humanity to grasp that, collectively, we must all work out how to “leave no trace” if we are to sustain our existence on earth.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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