Shocking footage has emerged of a disabled protestor being dragged from his wheelchair during a protest at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire.
Navy veteran Nick Sheldrick, who is paralysed from the waist down, was part of a group of protestors when police – witnesses say they were not from the local force – arrived en masse, apparently to escort lorries entering and leaving the site.
In video taken by other protestors, Mr Sheldrick tries to move his wheelchair into the lane to prevent the passage of a lorry and police run to pull him out of the way of it – but in the process appear to do more than was necessary, tipping him out of his chair onto the road.
The lorry is at some distance when Sheldrick starts to cross the centre line, but three officers run to intercept him and two of them tip his chair backwards, to the outrage of other protestors:
The officers may have been acting purely to save Mr Sheldrick from being hit by the lorry, which at first glance appears to have had enough time and distance to stop but passes within a couple of seconds as Sheldrick goes to ground.
But if so, then for officers to need to act so forcefully raises serious questions about why a heavy lorry was travelling on a stretch of road where protestors were known to be gathered – they’re there daily – and police were also on foot – at a speed too high for it to stop safely without requiring such a drastic intervention.
Protestors have been at the site ever since it opened after the Tories – supposedly supporters of ‘localism’ – overruled the local council to approve the fracking project. Nobody could therefore claim to be surprised at their presence and at a minimum a very low speed limit should be in for cethrough the area for the safety of protestors and police.
It appears either that this is not the case or that the limit is ignored, or else the lorry would have had ample time to slow and stop, given its distance when Sheldrick started to cross its path.
Mr Sheldrick’s outraged sister spoke to the SKWAWKBOX and said,
People need to know that this is going on. Nick has been knocked out of his wheelchair on more than one occasion.
A previous occasion, which also led to injury to Nick Sheldrick, took place in April of this year and was the subject of an article in The Big Issue magazine.
Dr Joanna Gilmore, a legal academic researching the policing of fracking protests, told the Big Issue:
There is a remarkable consistency across the country in how fracking protests are policed and that stems from a centralised policy formulated by the College of Policing. That means there haven’t been significant differences in how policing of protests has happened across the country. The tactics have been quite similar.
One thing which has been very, very clear is a massively disproportionate policing response to what in the majority of cases – possibly all – have been peaceful protests characterised by violent policing but not violent protesting.
Does this video show police ‘violence’? According to the strict meaning of the word, yes – but if police wish to claim they were acting proportionately to rescue Mr Sheldrick from imminent threat, then they must also account for why lorries are allowed to travel at speeds requiring such action through a known protest site packed with people.
The whole fracking debacle shows how little the Tories care for the wellbeing of local residents, overruling their wishes to approve a project against the vehement objections of local people and overturning a decision by the local council to block it.
The way in which the site is being policed – at huge expense and at a time when crime rates are soaring and the government has cut 20,000 front-line police officers – raises serious concerns about the apparent prioritisation of the fracking company’s wish to get vehicles in and out quickly or, if the site speed is judged to be safe, then concerns about the over-zealousness of police in removing protestors.
The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your support so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.