19 October 2011
Last updated at 08:48 ET
Angry scenes and violent clashes erupted at Dale Farm in Basildon, with bricks and debris thrown at police as they moved in to prepare the way for bailiffs clearing the illegal part of the UK's largest travellers' site.
Riot police entered the site after breaking down a rear fence just after 07:00 BST. The move came during discussions, described by supporters as a distraction, at the main gate.
At least 50 officers led the operation to clear the site, which came after travellers lost a last-ditch attempt to halt the evictions at the Court of Appeal on Monday.
Officers were met with resistance and confrontations with masked protesters, who had placed more barricades around the site. Essex Police said two people had been tasered and three arrested, while firefighters went to the scene after a caravan was set on fire.
The BBC's Jeremy Cooke inside the camp described the situation as "very dramatic", but added that protesters were heavily outnumbered by the police.
Police said they had received reports that bottles, liquids and bricks had been stockpiled and this was a threat to the public including bailiffs and council workers.
The focus later shifted to the main gate, where a number of activists remained chained to the overhead gantry.
Officers began removing protesters from the 40ft (12m) high scaffolding one by one, with several masked protesters being taken away in handcuffs.
The eviction, which could cost up to £18m, marks the end of a 10-year battle between travellers, who bought a former scrap yard on green belt land in 2001 and established their caravans there, and the council.