Greenpeace volunteers are regularly invited to take part in Non Violent Direct Actions (NVDA). These are an important part of how we campaign, and they are not undertaken lightly - as they usually involve some risk of arrest. Here are six illustrations of the sort of actions volunteers have been invited to take part in, for your consideration.
If you are applying to attend a NVDA training course (.doc), then try to imagine what taking part would really be like. Think about the issues, follow the links, think about the risk of arrest, the early morning start but also the contribution these actions make to winning Greenpeace campaigns.
In December 2010, at around 6am, 20 Greenpeace volunteers arrived at the Treasury, opposite a small police station within the SOCPA exclusion zone. After volunteers quickly erecting, and steered into posistion a 3 part ladder a climb team ascended to the first balcony, while the majority of the volunteers linked arms to protect the base of the ladder, in the expectation of a fast, and firm police intervention, which on the day did not occur.
With the climbers up, and hanging the banner, the blocking team vanished into the night, while the ladder team carefully disassembled the ladder. After a brief negotiation with the police the ladder team also left. Later in the morning an additional team of volunteers leafleted staff, until the climbers descended.
The climbers were arrested, photographed, fingerprinted and had their DNA taken, but were released later without charge.
In November 2006, 300+ Greenpeace volunteers descended upon the Nuclear Bomb Factory at Aldermaston. Arriving by bus, by train, by bicycle and by foot over the muddy fields, they were confronted by hundreds of police officers. Circling the site, the 'inspectors' presented the evidence that they had reason to believe there were weapons of mass destruction, and demanded access.
After the police refused, they taped off the site as a 'nuclear hazard', erected warning signs, leafleted nearby villages and took further photographic evidence of the site (which is illegal). Volunteers were photographed and videoed by the police and there was one arrest, for violating a prior bail condition.
In May 2004, 60 Greenpeace volunteers occupied Sainsburys HQ, the majority dressed as pantomime cows. Herded out of the back of a cramped Luton van by milkmen, the cows quickly bypassed security and proceeded to roam the building, disrupting meetings etc.
In the foyer of the office volunteers chained themselves to benches with a soundsystem playing cow like noises, loudly reverberating around the glass atrium. Outside the building the 'milkmen' leafleted staff, as a Jamie Oliver looky-likey posed on a scooter. After Sainsbury's agreed to Greenpeace's demands for a meeting, the volunteers unlocked and left the office. Individual names and addresses, were taken by the police but there were no arrests.
In February 2003, Greenpeace volunteers in small mobile teams shut down scores of Esso petrol stations across the UK. Activists safely shut off the fuel supplies, by flipping the firemen's switches and then removed the handles - to prevent the fuel being turned back on. They also locked nozzles together and at focus garages volunteers chained themselves to the pumps, taping the forecourts off as 'climate crime scenes'.
Meanwhile a further 100+ volunteers blockaded the company's headquarters in Leatherhead, Surrey. While a lorry blockade the main entrance with a banner 'Esso - Stop Fuelling War', volunteers handed copies of the report 'The Tiger in the Tanks' to interested staff. There were a number of arrests, and volunteers were charged and convicted of various minor offences at a magistrate’s court, recieving fines.
In July 1999, a team of Greenpeace volunteers entered a GM maize test site field in Norfolk before it could release pollen into the environment. Wearing hazard suits, they proceeded to cut down the maize with both an agricultural vehicle and by hand, and began loading the crop onto a flatbed lorry to return it to the company running the test. The irate farmer pursued the cutting vehicle with a JCB, damaging it beyond repair, nearly running over several activists. 28 of the volunteers were subsequently arrested for criminal damage and theft.
In April 2000, after a 3 week trial the Jury acquitted the volunteers on the charge of theft but failed to reach a verdict on the criminal damage charge. In September 2000 after a lengthy retrial all 28 volunteers were unanimously acquitted of the charge of criminal damage. The two trials and the defence of necessity / lawful excuse, proved to be a turning point in the campaign against GM foods.
In October 2007, just after 5am, approximately 50 Greenpeace volunteers took over a little known coal fired power station in Kent. One team immobilised the huge conveyor belt carrying coal, and then chained themselves to the machinery. Another team climbed onto the plant roof (as illustrated), while a smaller group climbed a 200m ladder up the inside of the chimney. A smaller team occupied the jetty using a roll up inflatable.
Outside the plant a 4th team acting as decoys for the plant security at the main gate, and then proceeded to leaflet the staff, as to why Greenpeace had taken this action. Away from the plant three other teams leafleted the towns around Kingsnorth, and a host of other volunteers were involved in support roles.
When the action was over there were a total of 24 arrests. Arrested individuals were detained for up to 24 hours, were photographed, fingerprinted and had their DNA taken. Subsequently 18 volunteers pleaded guilty at the magistrate's court, recieving a mixture of fines and community service. The trial of the 6 remaining activists, and the jury's not guilty verdict became world wide news and the subject of a Nick Broomfield documentary.