We interviewed two women, both from Wales – Melanie Edwards, 41, a carer, and Victoria Bamford, 71, a gardener.
They had travelled to Heathrow (Melanie cycled over several days) to take part in the controversial Heathrow Pause protest against airport expansion.
Over the previous days, alleged organisers were arrested and homes raided, and despite safety assurances from the protest group (who intended to openly fly toy drones within the prohibited area around Heathrow but at head height and well away from flight paths) there were headlines about eco-terrorism and a statement from police vowing a major operation.
The group met with airport authorities and the police prior to the protests and they were given a dedicated police phone number to communicate, but after flying their drones in Sipson Rec, within a quarter of a mile of the airport perimeter, the women tried the number and were met with an answerphone. They gave their location but no police operation ensued, so they walked the mile along Bath Road, openly carrying their drones, until finally giving themselves in at the Heathrow Polar Police Station.
They had spent an hour doing exactly what the protest group had always said they would do, and which led to the raids, arrests, and even the imprisonment of Roger Hallam (co-founder of Extinction Rebellion and spokesperson for the Heathrow Pause group) who is remanded until a court hearing on October 14th.
Aside from the perverse policing, this film is about the sacrifice and heart of these two people, who are deeply concerned about the future and have tried all the usual ways to protest against airport expansion.
As Melanie puts it “it can’t be put in the hands of politicians who will declare a climate emergency and then a couple of weeks later back the expansion of this monstrosity (Heathrow) – it goes against all logic.”
A Heathrow Pause spokesperson issued this statement:
“We must reiterate that interrupting the Airport and disturbing scores of travellers was never the ultimate goal of this action. The real objective was always to trigger a sensible, honest conversation throughout society on the dangerous folly of Heathrow expansion, with the ultimate objective of cancelling the third runway. That conversation is now happening. It is incumbent on all of us to keep it going.”
Check out our interview with Valerie which took place in the lead-up to the protests – her home was later raided by police in an operation involving a police helicopter during which a man was bitten by police dogs. The raid took place the day before the protests began, and Valerie was arrested on suspicion of “conspiracy to cause a public nuisance”. Roger Hallam (co-founder of Extinction Rebellion) was also arrested that day and has since been remanded to Wormwood Scrubbs pending a trial in October. As far as we are aware, there have been no public complaints of nuisance, and by contrast, Mel and Victoria found it quite hard to get themselves arrested while carrying out exactly what Heathrow Pause had always said they would do.
The extremely unpredictable policing seems as chaotic as a government pushing ahead with expansion whilst being run by a man who said he would lie down in front of bulldozers to stop the third runway.