Concept

Battle of the Beanfield

Summary
The Battle of the Beanfield took place over several hours on 1 June 1985, when Wiltshire Police prevented The Peace Convoy, a convoy of several hundred New Age travellers, from setting up the 1985 Stonehenge Free Festival in Wiltshire, England. The police were enforcing a High Court injunction obtained by the authorities prohibiting the 1985 festival from taking place. Around 1,300 police officers took part in the operation against approximately 600 travellers. The convoy of travellers heading for Stonehenge encountered a police road block seven miles from the landmark. Police claimed that some traveller vehicles then rammed police vehicles in an attempt to push through the roadblock. Around the same time police smashed the windows of some of the convoy's vehicles and some travellers were arrested. The rest broke into an adjacent field, and a stand-off developed that persisted for several hours. According to the BBC, "Police said they came under attack, being pelted with lumps of wood, stones and even petrol bombs". Conversely, The Observer states the travellers were not armed with petrol bombs and that police intelligence suggesting so "was false". Eventually the police launched another attack during which the worst of the violent police behaviour took place. According to The Observer, during this period pregnant women and those holding babies were clubbed by police with truncheons and the police were hitting "anybody they could reach". When some of the travellers tried to escape by driving away through the fields, The Observer states that the police threw truncheons, shields, fire extinguishers and stones at them to try to stop them. Dozens of travellers were injured, and 537 travellers were eventually arrested. This represents one of the largest mass arrests of civilians since at least the Second World War, possibly one of the biggest in English legal history. Two years after the event, a Wiltshire police sergeant was found guilty of Actual Bodily Harm as a consequence of injuries incurred by a member of the convoy during the Battle of the Beanfield.
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