British police in riot gear on Wednesday used sledgehammers to clear the way for the eviction of a community of Irish Travelers from a site where they have lived illegally for a decade.

A large force of police and bailiffs faced resistance from several dozen residents and supporters who threw bricks and struggled with officers at the Dale Farm site, set amid fields 30 miles east of London. One mobile home was set on fire as police moved in at dawn, and several protesters chained themselves to barricades with bicycle locks in a bid to slow down the evictions. Others scaled a 40-foot scaffolding tower, from which police began removing them one by one.

Essex Police said two protesters were Tasered and one person arrested and that police officers had been attacked with rocks and other missiles.

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© Peter MacDiarmid / Getty Images
Activists confront police as they enter the site to begin evictions from Dale Farm travelers' camp near Basildon, England, on October 19. Travelers have fought for 10 years to stay on the former scrap yard site. The local authorities have been given the go-ahead to proceed with the eviction of illegal dwellings after rulings by the Court of Appeal.

More pictures can been viewed here.

The conflict over the settlement has simmered since 2001, when Travelers bought and settled on a former scrap yard next to a legal Travelers' site.

The local authority says it's a simple planning issue - the 86 families lack permission to pitch homes on the land. The Travelers, a traditionally nomadic group similar to, but ethnically distinct from, Gypsy or Roma people, call it ethnic cleansing - the latest chapter in a centuries-old story of mistrust between nomads and British society.

"We are being dragged out of the only homes we have in this world," said Kathleen McCarthy, a Dale Farm resident. "We will do our best to stay but it looks like we have no hope." Read the full story.