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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 October, 2004, 15:44 GMT
'Effigy' gypsies unite at bonfire
The Gypsies' bonfire
The Gypsies built their bonfire on land near Lewes
Gypsies angered by the burning of an effigy of a traveller family at a firework event in Sussex last year have held their own bonfire celebrations.

A bonfire event was held on land near Lewes on Saturday evening with Gypsies gathering from across the county.

The Gypsy Bonfire Society was formed after Firle Bonfire Society members were not charged with inciting racial hatred for burning the caravan effigy.

The Gypsies said holding their own event helped lay the matter to rest.

'The last word'

About 50 Gypsies and their supporters attended the bonfire celebrations which they hope will become an annual event.

Jake Bowers, the Gypsy Bonfire Society chairman, said: "The community found it really offensive what happened last year at Firle with the burning of Gypsies especially of children.

"So this is our answer - this is the last word.

"The people were at the time let off - they were not charged for what we considered to be a criminal act and this is our way of laying that matter to rest."

The controversial effigy of a gypsy caravan was burnt in the village of Firle, near Lewes, in October 2003.

Twelve members of the village bonfire society were arrested but the Crown Prosecution Service decided in July 2004 there was not enough evidence to prosecute them.

Firle Bonfire Society always denied any racial intent.

'No evidence' in effigy race case
07 Jul 04  |  Southern Counties
Apology for burning gypsy effigy
03 Nov 03  |  Southern Counties
Bonfire sparks complaints of racism
30 Oct 03  |  Southern Counties
Gypsy effigies burnt on bonfire
28 Oct 03  |  Southern Counties

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