Evictions Begin At Dale Farm Amid Clashes
Bailiffs supported by police in riot gear have begun evictions from the illegal Dale Farm traveller site in Essex.
Protesters clashed with police after they started to enter the sprawling site at around 7am.
Activists and supporters of the travellers attempted to resist the police with makeshift barricades.
At least one disused caravan was set on fire by protesters after electrical supplies were cut off by officials.
Essex Police said two protesters have been Tasered and at least one person arrested in the action launched by Basildon Council.
The action came after Essex Police made a number of attempts to negotiate with demonstrators to leave the site peacefully.
The force said: “Officers have this morning entered the Dale Farm site following intelligence which informed the commanders that anyone entering the site was likely to come up against violence and a serious breach of the peace would occur.
“Intelligence received indicated protesters had stockpiled various items with the intent of using these against bailiffs and police.
“The first officers on the site were attacked with missiles being thrown, including rocks and liquids. These officers were fully equipped to deal with this situation.”
Resident Kathleen McCarthy said: “The memory of Dale Farm will weigh heavily on Britain for generations – we are being dragged out of the only homes we have in this world.
“Our entire community is being ripped apart by Basildon Council and the politicians in Government.”
Read the latest updates from the Sky News team at Dale Farm:
Lily Hayes, a human rights observer, said: “Basildon Council are violating the court order by smashing in the walls of a fully legal plot on the Dale Farm site. They are also acting unnecessarily brutally.”
It is a month to the day since the council intended to begin clearing the illegal site.
But an eleventh hour injunction prevented the bailiffs from entering and for four weeks a series of legal battles have been fought in the courts.
On Monday the travellers exhausted all legal avenues.
Seven weeks ago protesters began arriving at Dale Farm to offer their support and organise resistance.
“We will be employing a range of tactics,” supporter Marina Pepper had said.
The travellers bought the land on the site of an old scrapyard 10 years ago and has been home to more than 80 families living on 54 plots.
But Basildon Council refused them planning permission on the grounds that the area was greenbelt.
Since then they have been trying to get them to leave and have been granted permission to clear 49 of the plots.
A meeting yesterday between the travellers and the council to discuss the clearance ended with the residents’ delegation walking out.
Basildon Council leader Tony Ball condemned the violence.
He said: “The pre-meditated and organised scenes of violence that we have already seen with protesters throwing rocks and bricks, threatening police with iron bars and setting fire to a caravan are shocking.
“These are utterly disgraceful scenes and demonstrate the fact some so-called supporters were always intent on violence.”
Mr Ball added: “Nonetheless we are going to press on with this operation with our partners in a safe, dignified and humane way and will uphold the law.
“We now must get on with the difficult job of clearing Dale Farm in as safe and dignified a manner as possible.”