Photo Credit: PA Media
It’s the second day of the Euston Square Gardens Protection Camp eviction.
Yesterday, bailiffs from the National Eviction Team (NET), hired by HS2 Ltd, stormed the camp before dawn, and began violently dismantling it. This is happening despite a national lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with HS2 putting the health of activists and bailiffs at risk in order to build a temporary taxi rank.
Activists at the camp are resisting to stop HS2 at its source, and to highlight the environmental, social and economic damage the infrastructure project is already causing.
When the eviction began, there were protectors on three tree houses, the roof of Buckingham Pallets and others underground in a 100ft-long tunnel network built over the last few months with the purpose of delaying HS2.
Yesterday, six tree protectors were removed by NET bailiffs from ‘Heaven’, the largest of the treehouses in the Euston Square Gardens Protection Camp, using climbing teams and a cherrypicker. Two tree protectors were left there overnight however and were only removed this morning.
NET bailiffs removed the bender which provided shelter to these protectors, leaving them exposed to the elements overnight in the middle of winter. They removed their stores of food and water, thereby denying the protectors sustenance as well as shelter, and their climbing rope, meaning they have been trapped in the treehouse, unable to leave of their own accord.
The rope walkway between the trees was violently shaken for a protracted period in a deliberate and dangerous act of cruelty, whilst a young activist / protector (i.e., under-18) was on it.
The activists in the tunnel have been deliberately deprived of sleep with loud power tools in constant use in close proximity to them without any break. They have also had substantial quantities of soil and heavy objects dropped on them from height, resulting in injury and in one protector being largely buried.
The tree protectors are now receiving advice about taking legal action to defend their human rights from further abuses.
Bradley, one of the two remaining tree protectors in the ‘Heaven’ treehouse comments: “I’m so cold in the rain to be honest with you I can barely type. They took our blankets, food and water to try to get us to come down and even the risk of hypothermia hasn’t stopped us yet! I’m doing this because I want a future where we still have green spaces for all. HS2’s corruption needs to be laid bare and the people making these decisions for our country need to be held to account. I’m taking a stand and anybody else should go for it too!”
Tim Crosland, barrister, said: “The Human Rights Act guarantees the right to protest (Article 11). While that right has been limited in the context of the pandemic, the limitation is only permissible “to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation” (Article 15). It is not “strictly necessary”, as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to prohibit the protest of two people who are self-isolating together. The denial of food, water and essential provisions to the protestors is an unlawful interference with the right to protest. It is also a breach of Article 3 (“no-one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”). Further, there is a serious risk that the actions of the NET (which include cutting the line of descent) cause substantial harm to the protestors. This is a breach of the NET’s duty of care to the protestors and an act of negligence. I urge the NET to reconsider their actions or face legal action.”
As these activists are putting their lives at risk and having their human rights challenged by a private company with government backing, we must remember why they are there and support their brave acts of resistance.
HS2 will ravage the UK’s ancient woodland, a habitat so precious to us and the species it harbours, irreplaceable areas that are absolutely essential during a climate and ecological emergency. The government is spending over £106 billion on this ecocidal project, despite their pledge to protect 30% of UK’s land by 2030, and the onset of a deep post-pandemic, socio-economic crisis. This is simply unaffordable.
The possession of Euston Square Gardens by HS2 Ltd, to build a temporary taxi rank, is symbolic of greed, and blind disrespect for the needs of this country.
A combination of tactics is necessary to put a stop to HS2 in its tracks, and there are many ways in which you can help. Whilst signing petitions and writing to our MPs or other elected representatives is crucial, we need to come together to apply pressure to the government through non-violent direct action (NVDA). Along the proposed railway line, protection camps have been resisting for months. Find the nearest one to you, talk to the activists and get involved. Monetary and material donations to the campaign are also necessary to keep it going. Other ways of applying pressure from home are possible.
Here’s what you can do right now to support the activists at Euston:
OFFER SUPPORT IN PERSON
Call out for singers, dancers, performers, anyone willing to join in with any support will be appreciated by the brave crew on site. Legal observers, film makers and witnesses of NET bailiff and Met behaviour also needed.
BE A WITNESS
Telephone ALL ARRESTS that you witness – don’t worry if you think it’s already been called in, the back office will collate the data. Also, brutality watch – call in all acts of brutality. Take a camera and if possible live stream everything. Offer arrest/de-escalation support if you can. Activists are being arrested and need your support.
British Transport Police have been spotted at Euston station with metal detectors. They are stopping people and asking them to provide valid proof or give legitimate reason to commute or travel. Checks are also happening at Victoria station.
During coronavirus offering police station support MAY come with the risk of a £200 fine or arrest. Although volunteering is a valid exemption to the regulations, we cannot predict how police will act. Please make sure to read this coronavirus legal brief here, and the police station support guidelines here.
RING UP COMPANIES SUPPORTING THE EVICTION
Cause disruption to the companies supplying the equipment needed for the eviction. Call them and explain why they should not be facilitating the destructive works of HS2 and the NET. More details here.
WRITE TO YOUR MP, WHEREVER YOU LIVE
MPs up and down the country work for us. Write to them, and to Keir Starmer (leader of the opposition and MP for Holborn and St Pancras). The more letters they receive the more they will be emboldened to stand up. Write your own or use these resources. Do it today!
GIVE ££ TO THE STOP HS2 CAMPAIGN
If you can’t come down in person then please donate what you can to the stop HS2 campaign and share it with friends.
TELL THREE FRIENDS ABOUT HS2 + EUSTON TODAY
It is important we spread the word and understanding about HS2 and the Euston site to our own friends and family. If you’re not sure where to start, there are some useful resources here.
FOLLOW ON SOCIALS
Keep track of updates and live streams here, and don’t forget to share them.
SHARE THIS INFORMATION FAR AND WIDE
Forward this information, tell your friends and family about HS2 and what is happening at Euston, share articles and, most importantly, commit to helping the campaign in the long term.