New Internationalist

Climate camp 2008: power politics, police brutality and pirates

A quick despatch from this year's camp for climate action. We're in a beautiful meadow in Kent, with just a few green fields between us and Kingsnorth power station's belching chimneys. Energy giant E.ON wants to build the first new coal-fired power station in 30 years to replace it. We're here to stop them, and on Saturday we plan to shut the power station down en masse.

There must be 1000 people here so far – all committed to trying to stop climate change before we hit dangerous tipping points and it's too late. Scientists are saying we have about 8 years. Business is spraying us with an endless jet of greenwash and governments seem, at best, paralysed in the headlights of the challenge. We have to take direct action to bring about the change we want to see in the world.

Right now, this is the epicentre of the battle against climate change – it feels like the most important place in the world. On site there are hundreds of workshops happening on every aspect of the climate crisis and the solutions available. We are living, eating and taking decisions communally, and the camp is swarming with lovely people.

Outside the camp it's a different story. We had two police invasions yesterday. Riot cops used pepper spray and batons to batter my friends over the head as they peacefully stood in front of the riot shields, attempting to keep them off our green, pleasant and utterly legal site. This is just the latest intimidation tactic the camp has suffered. I don't have time to list the rest, as the furiously cycling people to my right who are keeping this computer running (the cops stole the pole for our wind turbine) are about to take a rest. But I've been shocked by the unprovoked and one-sided police violence – and you've got to ask yourself why we are being treated by the state as such a threat, our rights being almost entirely suspended. I think it means we might be getting somewhere!

I hope to blog again later in the week as plans hot up for our mass direct action on Saturday. It's already getting surreal. There are increasing numbers of flamboyant pirates wandering the site, getting the Great Rebel Raft Regatta (GRRR) organised – the daredevil plans to get to the power station by rafting across the river Medway. The cops seem to have backed off now, and the site is filling up fast. Come along and join in the fun!

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