Gypsies, Travellers and supporters gathered on 1st October to kick off the LGT campaign against council injunctions stopping “persons unknown” from camping on public land.
These “wide” injunctions mean that anyone stopping could be fined, imprisoned or have their property seized. They threaten Gypsies’ and Travellers’ traditional way of life. Almost 40 councils in England are now using them.
At the meeting, held at LGT’s offices, Travellers spoke about the lack of sites and stopping places which has pushed much of the community into housing, leading to people losing their identity and worsening mental health. They said younger Gypsies and Travellers are trying to hold on to their culture by continuing to travel, but this is made almost impossible by evictions and injunctions. One of the young women attending the meeting said councils should build sites and stopping places instead of punishing Travellers.
London Gypsies and Travellers is launching an #EndRacistInjunctions campaign, to coincide with Bromley Council’s appeal against a recent court ruling that these “wide” injunctions should end. LGT, which brought the original court challenge to the injunctions, will again be intervening on the basis that the injunctions are discriminatory and criminalise Gypsies and Travellers.
It is launching a crowdfunding campaign to pay for legal help required to challenge the injunctions. The local Unite union has already pledged £200 towards the campaign.
Participants at the meeting were invited to show their support for this important case by gathering outside the Royal Courts of Justice on 3rd December, the day of the appeal hearing. Virgil Bitu from GR8 Power urged people to attend the Stand Up to Racism International conference in October. Representatives of the TUC and council tenants also pledged support.
Travellers agreed to get the word out in the wider community and share campaign information. Lucy Hetherington and Abbie Kirkby from Friends Families and Travellers spoke about the need to engage MPs and faith communities.
If you would like to help with the campaign, please contact Tanya on 07494 641 746 firstname.lastname@example.org Use and look out for the social media hashtag #EndRacistInjunctions