Lock-ons at height and in tunnels
Following our earlier article on lock-ons, where concrete, barbed wire and sometimes explosive devices are used to make removal harder, lock-ons at height and underground present an additional set of challenges for the enforcement agent.
The sky at night
While undertaking an eviction in Glasgow, we had two women who had climbed up the 20 feet high wooden structure which the protestors has built. The weather was freezing.
They were facing each other and had looped a wire around each other’s wrists to make a snare, then put an arm each into a container.
Because the hillside they were on was so boggy, we were unable to get a vehicle up there that day. As night fell and temperatures dropped below zero, they tried to release themselves, but were unable to do so.
They spent the whole night standing up, unable to sit down because of the lock-on, so we provided them with blankets, food and hot drinks to get them through the night. The next morning a cherry picker arrived and we were able to gain access to get them down.
They did both say that they would never do it again!
At one eviction from a barricaded cottage in a field in Derby, a pyramid had been built with a platform on top of the roof. There was a protestor on the roof with a noose around his neck.
Once we had released and removed him, we went inside and found a naked woman, spread-eagled and tied into the door frame, so that we couldn’t go through the doorway. The enforcement agents had to smash through the wall next to her, so we could gain access and remove her.
On a separate eviction, a man was sitting on top of the building with his arm down what looked like a chimney but turned out to be a steel pipe that went right into the building to the ground floor, where there was a woman locked onto the same pipe at the other end.
Protestors underground creates a whole different set of challenges. Often the tunnels built are not properly constructed or shored up, making a collapse and burial alive a very real danger at any point.
In one eviction, the protesters had built a mole-hole tunnel with an area that they had opened out behind them. They put a metal door in the tunnel and one person had put herself on the other side of the door with wire round her throat so that if the door were opened, she would be strangled.
Fortunately, she advised the enforcement agents that this would be the situation so that they wouldn’t open the door.
Our solution was to dig a parallel tunnel so that we came out behind the protester. There were several dangers in this situation: the principal one being the risk of oxygen deprivation, as the protester had been down in the tunnel for several days and it took quite a while to gain access to be able to remove her.
There was also the danger of the protesters’ tunnel collapsing because it hadn’t been shored up properly. Needless to say, ours was one metre square and was properly shored up!