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Armthorpe’s ‘martial law’

(August 1984)

From Militant, No. 714, 31 August 1984, p. 3.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

1,000 police, many in full riot gear, turned the Yorkshire pit village of Armthorpe into a battlefield last week. The trouble started on Tuesday 22 August after a day of confrontation between police and pickets at Markham Main colliery, known as one of the most militant pits in a militant area.

The village had been quiet and trouble free for 24 weeks, until management that day smuggled three unidentified, masked men into the pit. Police vans cruised round the village, made arbitrary arrests, and eventually tried to force their way into the welfare.

The club was full of miners who’d gone there from the picket and they prevented the police from entering. The police eventually left at about 4 p.m.

24-hour picket

By 6.30 p.m. the welfare was jam packed for a meeting. It was decided to mount a 24-hour picket from then.

Between 6 and 7 a.m. pickets arrived from all over Doncaster and a barricade was erected across the pit gates. At 8.30 a.m. two convoys of police moved in and boxed off the pit.

A pitched battle ensued. Police ran amok through the streets, truncheons flailing, arresting anybody, chasing people into gardens and houses.

One young picket was arrested then paraded up and down the streets, covered in blood, for 45 minutes before being given any medical aid.

This open terrorism has backfired in Armthorpe and elsewhere. Pubs and shops have refused to serve police. Signs have gone up saying “No police”. Housewives abuse them in the streets. More mass pickets are planned and a newly formed branch of the LPYS is holding meetings and leafleting campaigns in the village.

Latest reports indicate that the police are now using Armthorpe as a base of operations, with dozens of vans in the pit yard, curfews on residents and tapping of telephones. The village is now under virtual martial law. As one Armthorpe miner said:

“The village is in effect an open prison. Everyone in it is answerable to these thugs. Our normal police are unable to patrol the village, because of the damage caused by these vandals. The end result will be catastrophic unless we stand up to them – as a whole village – together in the struggle.”

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