Dale Farm Travellers Face Racism and Prejudice as Court Mulls Appeal,
suburbanstudio at runbox.com
Sat Dec 20 03:30:42 GMT 2008
Dale Farm Travellers Face Racism and Prejudice as Court Mulls Appeal
December 19, 2008, Basildon, UK: Traveller families at the Dale Farm
site in southeast England have faced an outpouring of racism and
prejudice as they await a decision from Britain's Court of Appeals on
whether local authorities can evict them from their homes.
Earlier this month, the Travellers were rebuffed by a local community
association after they applied to join in an effort to build closer ties
with other area residents. A letter from the association's chairperson,
Tina Borer, said that their membership would not lead to greater
After the story
appeared in the local newspaper, the Echo, the paper's website received
a torrent of hateful comments
referring to the Travellers as "dirty thieving law breaking scumbags,"
"outlaws," and "tax dodgers."
The Travellers have sent a complaint to the British Press Complaints
Commission about the Echo comments, according to Grattan Puxon,
Secretary of the Dale Farm Housing Association. The Advocacy Project
(AP) also contacted the Echo, and some of the most offensive comments
were removed. But many still remain, and their message is unmistakably
"This story and the racist comments which followed require some action
to uphold Travellers' rights," Mr Puxon said. "There is a lot more
racism, as ever, in these comments and the Echo newspapers need to be
The Travellers are defined as a distinct ethnic group by British law and
have long been targets of discrimination in the UK. The controversy
marks the latest twist in a long-running attempt
<http://advocacynet.org/page/dalefarmtimeline> by the Basildon District
Council to expel around 90 families from the Dale Farm site. Although
the Travellers own the land, the Council has denied them permission to
build, on the grounds that the site is within the Green Belt and
protected by environmental regulations.
The Council has also refused to make other land available to Travellers,
as it is required to do. Councillors from the opposition Labour Party
vigorously oppose the eviction plan, as it would produce extraordinary
suffering, shift the burden to other local councils, and pull Traveller
children out of school.
The eviction orders were halted in May
<http://advocacynet.org/resource/1157> by Judge Andrew Collins of the
British High Court, but the Council appealed the ruling. Another hearing
was held December 4, and Traveller families expect a decision from the
Court of Appeals early next year.
AP has supported the Travellers since June 2005, when they were first
ordered out. AP sent two Peace Fellows to work at Dale Farm, and this
week pledged $500 to help support internet connections and heating at
Dale Farm's community center.
The recent rejection by the Residents' Association, and the exchange
with the Echo newspaper, has deepened the sense of isolation at Dale
Farm. The Echo has a large audience in the Basildon area, and Dale Farm
residents feel it often portrays Travellers in a negative light. The
paper ran several articles on AP's 2007 Peace Fellow, Zachary Scott
<http://advocacynet.org/blogs/index.php?blog=82>, which provoked scores
of critical comments.
The latest comments follow a series of inflammatory articles in British
national media, including a front page headline in the Daily Express
reading "Families must sell land for Gypsy campsites," and the launch of
an anti-Traveller "Stamp on the Camps" campaign in the Sun newspaper.
Similar articles have also appeared in the Daily Mail and the Evening
Standard, according to Richard Sheridan, President of the Dale Farm
The Dale Farm Travellers protested outside the London offices of the
Press Complaints Commission on December 5, and the Commission has now
agreed to meet with a delegation. In preparation, the Travellers are
asking supporters to e-mail <mailto:dale.farm at btinternet.com> them
letters of complaint about discriminatory articles, which will then be
presented to the Commission.
Alerted by AP, the Global Affairs Club at Cornell University's School of
Industrial and Labor Relations has taken up the issue of Dale Farm, and
will be sending letters. Others interested are encouraged to contact
Dale Farm directly, or through AP.
* Read the Echo article and comments
* Send a letter <http://citizenspeak.org/node/1397> to the Press
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Diggers350