Introducing Exodus - Six-part Special - Pt. 4
EXODUS - A Chronology
Squall 8, Autumn 1994, p. 42.
First Exodus free party takes place in a forest near Luton attended by 150 people. There are then 21 consecutive free parties, one each week.
Exodus collective squat a disused warehouse/office in Craddock Road
Exodus are evicted from Craddock road and on the same day squat Long Meadow Farm, a property compulsoraly purchased by the DoT for a road building that was delayed until the end of this decade.
JUNE - NOVEMBER '92
Five raids are carried out by the police on the farm, with two claimed drug finds. No charges were brought. Three attempts are made by police to confiscate sound equipment on the road and two attempts made to remove sound equipment from the farm. At one such visit the police came with a furniture lorry saying they were looking for drugs! In another visit to the farm, the police pull the place apart and leave a warrant in the middle of the floor, suggesting they were once again looking for drugs. All the warrants issued for the raids were done so under the pretext of looking for drugs except one which claimed that Exodus were under suspicion of printing counterfeit money. Upon being asked why there was a continuing harassment of Exodus by the police, one of the policemen conducting one of the raids, DC Farrel informs them that "the bosses have got it in for them". Glenn Jenkins says to Farrel: "You tell the faceless people that we're not going away but we're willing to talk". Farrel replies that he considers it unlikely that the police chiefs will talk because they "consider Exodus to be made up of criminals."
The Exodus Collective approach the local police in order to initiate some dialogue. Talks start with Chief Inspector Mike Brown of Dunstable Police.
NOVEMBER '92 - JANUARY '93
Talks with Chief Inspector Brown proving co-operative and an application is made for a licensed venue. The Department of Transport grant a licence to Long Meadow Farm saying they have no plans to use the land until at least 1998. on December 31st party at Woodside estate attracts a peak number of 10 000 dancers. In order to take some of the pressure off while negotiations are entered into with the authorities the parties are now switched to one every two weeks.
JANUARY 3rd '93
Police go public in the local newspapers that they are now undergoing talks with the Collective.
JANUARY 4th '93
Exodus Collective squat Oakmore Hotel owned by a development company but left empty for years.The collective proceed to replace broken windows and repair the rooms.
JANUARY 15th '93
Riot police pile into Oakmore Hotel and break windows from inside out and rubbish the rooms. Four members of the Collective are arrested resulting in 2 charges of violent disorder. Captain, previously a building contractor and now one of the collective, is hit with a sledgehammer by the police for which he suffers a suspected crushed femur nerve. When Captain asks DC Farrel, again present at the raid, why the police are evicting people who are repairing a derelict property, Farrel actually bursts into tears. The cases of violent disorder are dropped after the police fail to produce the notebooks of the officers involved in the raid.
JANUARY 16th '93
Police block entrance to the party's car park causing a mass disorder for which Bigs, Glenn Jenkins and Richard Jenkins are charged. The charges are dropped.
JANUARY 31st '93
Police Operation Anagram storm Long Meadow Farm at 8.30 on the evening of a planned dance and leave with all the sound equipment. Thirty six members of the Collective are arrested and taken into custody. Four thousand protesters surround Luton Police Station and stage a non-violent demonstration at the arrests. Police agree to release the imprisoned members and to return the sound equipment the next day, which they do.
FEBRUARY 6th '93
Four thousand people gather for another Exodus dance. Due to the sighting of a large number of police vans, another raid is suspected. The Collective then deliver a statement to the assembled crowd that for safety reasons there will be no rave tonight. A written statement of the intention to avoid violence but to remain persistent is distributed.
FEBRUARY 13th '93
Exodus Collective and assembled convoy head off towards a venue for a dance. Police threaten Exodus with an injunction, issued after several meetings of the Association of Chief Police Officers. Police initiate Operation Anatomy, an attempt to sever the convoy by isolating the first ten vehicles in the convoy in order to arrest these few and then dissipate the rest. The drivers of the first ten vehicle realise they have been sectioned off before reaching the road block where they were due to be arrested. They backtrack and rejoin the convoy. Leaflets are found that have been distributed by the police to local residents asking whether they had been frightened or inconvenienced in any way by the convoy. The majority respond by saying "leave the Exodus collective alone".
Bigs, a member of the collective is arrested under a charge of being the possessor of drugs that the police say they found at the farm during the raid thirteen days before! They also charge Bigs, Glenn Jenkins and his brother Richard Jenkins (DJ Hazad) with public disorder offences. Bigs is also charged with 6 driving offences on that night even though he was not at the wheel at any point during the night. This glut of charges is known as 'swamping' the charge sheet, a process where the main charges (in this case drugs) are surrounded with other minor charges to make the defendant look bad enabling the conviction to be snowballed. With no proof whatsoever the driving charges are eventually dropped.
FEBRUARY 20th '93
Police initiate Operation Anchovy, an attempt to repeat Operation Anatomy severing the front vehicles. This time Exodus are fully aware of the tactic and avoid convoy splitting up. This time the convoy takes to its feet. Once again due to the presence of large numbers of riot police, the Collective disperses the crowd and distributes a leaflet to say why and to promise persistence.
MARCH 1st '93
Oakmore Hotel is evicted with Operation Ashanti (by now the Exodus collective have sussed on to the fact that all the police operations directed against them are named with a capital A), with 36 riot police, 12 bailiffs and manned roadblocks. The occupants of the squatted Hotel are given a 1/2 hours notice to leave. Bigs, Glenn Jenkins and Richard Jenkins are charged with Public Order Section 5 - harassment, alarm and distress to the riot police. The case reaches court and is thrown out by the judge due to inconsistencies in the stories of the police present. It transpires under cross examination that the policemen involved were given a blackboard lecture on what to say in their notebooks. The police's evidence is ruled as inadmissible. However, in a later court case, Glenn Jenkins is convicted of public nuisance after 2 'Scene of the Crime' Officers make identical statements 4 months after the event!
MARCH - JULY '93
Exodus collective squat a derelict hospice owned by Luton Borough Council. They proceed to rebuild the property and are granted a licence. They are also granted a license to hold a rave. Both licences are won because their activities in housing homeless people and giving Luton people a sense of purpose has attracted the support of local councillors.
JULY - DECEMBER '93
All Exodus Court battles are won. Much to the surprise of the local press which had consistently smeared the Collective, the judge once again ruled that there were inconsistencies in the police account of the drugs charges against Bigs. The court orders the police to forward all the policemen's notebooks for the day. The police say that they have lost them. The policeman who found the alleged bags of ecstasy can't explain why in the pitch black (the electricity had been cut off) he managed to find two stashes of drugs in two places, only a couple of minutes after the logged time for the commencement of the operation. At the last minute Exodus decide to offer no defence, leaving the jury to decide the case on the evidence given to the court by the police. The jury takes five minutes to return a verdict of 'not guilty'.
JANUARY - JULY '94
Work continues in further reconstruction the farm and the Manor.
Despite opposition from the police, Exodus are granted a licence to hold community festivals in Luton by the local council. These 'family fundays' are often organised in association with local residents' associations and involve bringing the Long Meadow farm animals into Luton to meet the children.
After a few months break, Exodus start up the parties again every two weeks- with no further police action and a peak of 7000 people coming to the dances. Exodus send letters out to the police, councillors and politicians, in order to establish a round table discussion. Chief Inspector Andy Nash, operations officer with South Beds Police Division replies saying that the police are "prepared to meet with the collective and others in a round table discussion with a view to taking the matter further.
Talks are arranged for Oct 13th and Oct 20th.
Local Council and Resource give the go ahead for £150,000 public enquiry into the numerous police operations targeted at Exodus and into the involvement of local politicians including John Carlile (Con MP Luton North) and Nicholas Lyall (Con MP Mid Beds and Attorney General).
To see Squall's full coverage of Exodus click here