June 18, 2016

Orgreave UK - the 32nd anniversary of a police attack when coppers in riot gear and some on horseback, charged the NUM mass-picket line


Miners Strike 1984 - 1985, Pictured. Police and Pickets clash at Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield, Yorkshire, Friday 1st June 1984
Police and Pickets clash at Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield, Yorkshire, Friday 1st June 1984

Even today the repercussions of police actions that day, one of the most violent in the year long strike, continue to reverberate.
For there are growing calls for Home Secretary Theresa May to order a public inquiry into police actions there.
The miners wanted to shut down access to the South Yorkshire coking plant for lorries which transported the coal-based fuel to steel mills.
Miners from across the North East were bussed down to the plant, near Rotherham, to join their colleagues from around the country.
In total, the pickets numbered around 8,000 while 5,000 police officers - pulled together from different forces but led by South Yorkshire Police - were dispatched to the plant.

PA WirePolice officers move into the picket lines at the Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham in Yorkshire in early March 1984
Police officers move into the picket lines at the Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham in Yorkshire in early March 1984

The National Union of Miners called the strike in response to the Government’s March 1984 announcement that it was closing 20 pits, with many more set to follow. The pits were the lifeblood of coal communities across Britain.
NUM leader Arthur Scargill had seen success in the 1972 strike, when a picket he led successfully closed Birmingham’s Saltley Gate coking works. There, the miners heavily outnumbered the police. The result was the three day week as Mr Scargill successfully strained Britain’s energy supply.
His intention was to repeat the trick at Orgreave.
The police, however, had other ideas and were ready and waiting. The officers, many decked out in riot gear and some on horseback, met the strikers with force.
Trouble escalated when horse-mounted police charged at the mass-picket. Clashes followed, with an estimated 120 miners and officers injured.

Arthur Scargill assisted by riot police after he was injured outside the Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham, during violent clashes between police and picketers in 1984
Arthur Scargill assisted by riot police after he was injured outside the Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham, during violent clashes between police and picketers in 1984

A total of 95 miners were arrested on trumped up charges including rioting and unlawful assembly. Four of the men were from County Durham.
But their trial collapsed after 16 weeks, amid accusations of unreliable evidence, fabrication and perjury.
Compensation was paid out to 39 of the men in out-of-court settlements, costing South Yorkshire Police £425,000.
On Saturday, the North East miners associations will be sending representatives to South Yorkshire to mark the Battle of Orgreave’s 32 anniversary,
The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign has organised a march and rally as part of their drive for justice.

Miners Strike 1984 - 1985, Pictured. Miner, Eric Hudson, inspects the guard of police officers, in the front line at Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield, Yorkshire, Monday 4th June 1984. On 6th March 1984, the National Coal Board announced that the agreement reached after the 1974 strike had become obsolete, and that to rationalise government subsidisation of industry they intended to close 20 coal mines, with a loss of 20,000 jobs, and many communities in the North of England as well as Scotland. On 12th March 1984, Arthur Scargill, president of the NUM, declared that strikes in the various coal fields were to be a national strike and called for strike action from NUM members in all coal fields. On 22nd March that the strike was official. The strike ended on 3 March 1985, nearly a year after it had begun.

They will meet at The Old Bridge, Orgreave Lane, on the outskirts of Sheffield, at 5pm.
The campaigners are leading the fight for a public inquiry.
Calls for an inquiry into South Yorkshire Police’s handling of Orgreave have stepped up over recent months following the recent inquest into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough in 1989.
A jury found the fans were unlawfully killed, while South Yorkshire Police’s planning and actions contributed to their deaths.
Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign chair Joe Rollin said: “In recent weeks the demand for the Government to set up an inquiry has become immense.
“People from all over the country – and some from other parts of the world - are telling us they have written to Home Secretary Theresa May urging her to speed up the decision she promised when we made our legal submission to her six months ago.
“After Hillsborough the demand for accountability of those to whom we entrust the responsibility for ensuring law and order in our communities has become unanswerable.

Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesPolice and miners at a demonstration at Orgreave Colliery, South Yorkshire, during the miner's strike, 2nd June 1984
Police and miners at a demonstration at Orgreave Colliery, South Yorkshire, during the miner's strike, 2nd June 1984

“Raising the standard for truth and justice ahead of our rally at Orgreave on Saturday June 18 will remind the Government of the urgency of now. Justice yet further delayed is justice denied.”
Alan Cummings, chairman of the Durham Miners’ Association, told the Chronicle last month: “There should be at the very least a public inquiry into what happened at Orgreave. In fact there should be a public inquiry into the whole policy of the dispute.”
Mr Cummings says when police evidence was given at the miners’ trial, “some of the jurors were actually laughing at what some of the police said it was such nonsense and so obviously made up”.
He added: “Yet not one officer, top or bottom from that day to this has been prosecuted. And Orgreave wasn’t a one off. There other incidents, like at Mansfield, where miners had gathered for a rally. A number were arrested and charged with riot.

Thousands of striking miners picket outside the Orgreave coke works near Rotherham, where they were met by huge lines of police on June 18, 1984
Thousands of striking miners picket outside the Orgreave coke works near Rotherham, where they were met by huge lines of police on June 18, 1984

“Witnesses were asked by the defence if they knew what a riot was and was it a riot they saw that day?
“They said they knew what a riot was and no it hadn’t happened, Instead they talked about how police violence and how they went over the top.”

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