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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 February 2017

Make some noise for Orgreave!

Riot police attacked a mass picket of the Orgreave coking plant in 1984, photo by West Midlands Police (Creative Commons)

Riot police attacked a mass picket of the Orgreave coking plant in 1984, photo by West Midlands Police (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign

Orgreave campaigners were shocked and outraged on 31 October 2016 when new home secretary Amber Rudd announced there would be no form of inquiry into the events of 18 June 1984. The government had been making all the right noises to the campaign and even Theresa May had talked about tackling the "poison of decades-old misdeeds".

May also told the Police Federation that forces needed to address "difficult truths, however unpalatable" and along with Amber Rudd had met with the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.

During the 1984/85 miners' strike the National Union of Miners called for a mass picket outside Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield on 18 June 1984.

The police were well prepared and the South Yorkshire force had drafted in thousands of police officers from all over the country. In a move that has been described as similar to the mass 'kettling' of demonstrators today, the miners were penned in and the police unleashed a savage beating on the pickets.

It is a wonder no one was killed. Miners who were arrested were refused medical treatment for their injuries and resorted to bandaging one another with t-shirts. Gareth Pierce was a solicitor in June 1984 and recalls "walking through blood and vomit" in the police station before she insisted medical help was brought for the injured miners.

95 miners were charged with unlawful assembly and riot, a sentence which potentially could result in a life sentence.

Eventually 15 miners, all charged with riot, appeared at Sheffield Crown Court in what was intended by the prosecution to be the first of a series of trials. The trial collapsed after 48 days of hearings.

It became clear as the police witnesses trooped in and out of the court that many officers had had large parts of their statements dictated to them, and that many of them had lied in their accounts. But no police officer has ever been disciplined for the lies or violence they were involved in that day.

We are planning our biggest and noisiest demonstration on Monday 13 March at 2pm at Unit 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF.

We are hoping to show how angry our community feels about the decision, so have billed the demonstration as a "noise protest". Let's tell the government we won't be silenced!

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In The Socialist 8 February 2017:


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