Today I remember the 30th anniversary of one of the 20th Century's most brutal attacks by the state on its own citizens.The Battle of Orgreave, during the1984 Miners strike,which resulted in an all out military operation by Margeret Thatcher's Conservative cabinet.
On June 18th 1984, 6 to 7,000 miners and supporters gathered to picket Orgreave cokeworks near Rotheram in South Yorkshire.
Police directed pickets to an area of land which left them hemmed in on three sides.Before this event the miners had been stoically out on strike for about 12 weeks, during which they had been assaulted on picket lines, with individuals being handcuffed and beaten without any cause or provocation.
At Orgreave the miners after being herded together. were savagely attacked by Police cavalry in full riot gear under the jurisdiction of Thatcher's Government attacking fleeing miners with long swaying batons as Miners ran for safety. It saw the police going berserk under state orders, repeatedly attacking individuals wherever they sought refuge, as they fled into a nearby Wheatfield and into the community of Orgreave, where the police carried on their pursuit through the streets. A scene of ugliness, fear and menace, as all concepts of Law and order that the constabulary were supposed to withhold abandoned all its basic principles.
At the end the day over 100 people were arrested, for no crime whatever, with many more being injured along with the Miners leader Arthur Scargill. Following Orgreave, the police conducted a deliberate and co-ordinated attempt to frame arrested miners for one of the most serious events on the statute book - the offence of Riot. No police officer has ever been prosecuted or even disciplined for their role in the terrible events that occurred.
Today all the victims of this bloody confrontation,are simply asking for an apology for the actions taken out against them. We should never forget, today people will be honouring them at the Orgreave Mass Picnic & Festival taking place at Catcliffe Recreation Ground.
The miners 1984 was one of the longest and most brutal in British labour history. A community fighting for jobs and survival was wholly denigrated and depicted as violent by the majority of the media. The above film THE BATTLE FOR ORGREAVE puts the record straight, as miners recount their own history, their economic and political struggle over decades and the trial they endured for 48 days in Sheffield when charged with riot at Orgreave - facing life imprisonment.
Containing compelling testimonies, emotive cinematography, in depth analysis coupled with meticulous detail of the mass picket and the ensuing events of June 18 1984 at the Orgreave coking plant, the documentary also has unique footage of police violence - all these make this an historic and important document of our time.
See the film at the British Film Institute.
or purchase from journeyman Pictures at
30 years later many still seek some form of justice.
For further details of the Orgreave Peace and Justice Campaign
I refer you to this excellent site
An earlier post on the 30th anniversary of the Miners Strike can be found here