Essex hunt protest turns into police riot

HSA news release 19th November 1994

An otherwise peaceful protest at the Essex Foxhunt disintegrated into widespread violence against protesters by a task force mounted by Essex Police today.

A group of around 200 protesters, including hunt saboteurs, travelled to the Essex Hunt’s meet at Good Easter, near Chelmsford, as part of a week-long series of protests against the Criminal Justice Act. Essex Police appear to have anticipated the protesters presence as they were able to quickly deploy a substantial task force at the hunt which included the force’s helicopter, a mobile prison, 10 transit vans and several patrol cars and Land Rovers.

Police discipline began to collapse at midday when they made a number of apparently random arrests of protesters who were simply walking along a footpath. The hunt was out of sight at the time. By 1.45 pm 26 arrests had been made. One protester was assaulted by a police officer who forced him to the ground and pushed his thumbs into the man’s eyes while arresting him for swearing.

Elsewhere in the area at about the same time, a police officer used his truncheon to smash the window of a protester’s van. The reason he gave for taking this step was because the van was blocking the road. The driver of the van suffered cuts to his hands from the broken glass. The officer who carried out the attack refused to identify himself either by name or number. Requests made to other officers nearby to identify their colleague were met with similar refusals.

At 2.30 pm a group of protesters were charged by truncheon-wielding police for no discernible reason. One officer armed himself with a four foot stick with a metal end which he used to attack protesters He then turned on a woman, beating her with his fists and truncheon. She was left with a broken nose and broken ribs after the savage and sustained assault and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance

Throughout the day. the police also used their vehicles to create arbitrary roadblocks which continued even after the hunt had finished. As the protesters made their way home, many were fearful of being subjected to further attacks by the police.

Despite the frighteningly aggressive behaviour of the police, a group of saboteurs managed to maintain fairly close proximity to the hunt and succeeded in preventing it from killing any foxes. No violent clashes between the hunt and protesters have been reported to the HSA. It is understood that a total of 30 arrests were made by the police, 28 of which are believed to have been made under the Criminal Justice Act.

Elsewhere in the country, 5 saboteurs were arrested for aggravated trespass at the Tynedale Hunt in Northumberland and 4 at the Eglinton Hunt in Scotland.


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