Rage Against The Arms Trade

Rage Against The Machine on stage
Rage Against The Machine in Finsbury Park

Agenda item at Campaign Against Arms Trade’s weekly meeting: We’ve been invited to have a stall at the Rage Against The Machine gig in Finsbury Park on Sunday 6th June. Is anyone interested in helping run the stall?

“Me! Me! Me!”

I couldn’t believe my luck. Less than a month in the job and I got to see one of my favourite bands.

Remember the 2009 campaign that got RATM’s 1992 single Killing In The Name to Christmas number one in order to keep Simon Cowell’s X Factor winner from the top spot? Well this was the free gig that the band put on to say thank you to British fans.

The CAAT stall
The CAAT stall

We set the stall up at 14:00. The main theme of the stall was our UKTI Armed & Dangerous campaign – calling for the closure of the Defence & Security Organisation (DSO) – a quango that squanders millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money promoting arms exports.

The gates opened and the fans began to arrive. People were drawn to our stall by a Rage Against The Machine-themed board out front that displayed apposite lyrics from the band, dynamic protest pictures and quotes about CAAT from Mark Thomas and Noam Chomsky.

Three people signing up at the CAAT stall
Gig-goers signing up at the CAAT stall

It was a long gig with three support acts, and our stall got a lot of attention throughout the afternoon. Altogether, 172 people signed Demolition Orders to be sent to local MPs calling for UKTI DSO to be closed, 70 of whom wanted to get more involved with the campaign. A great day for CAAT!

Finally it was time for the headliners to take the stage. Reasoning that there would be no more interest in our stall, we closed up and pushed into the crowd of 40 000.

Rage Against The Machine played a blistering set. I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea but I was made up: Here was a band I’d missed the opportunity to see years ago, and when they broke up thought I’d never get the chance.

Appropriately for us, the band played Bulls On Parade – their polemic against the military-industrial complex and the ignorance fostered by governments that allows the industry to prosper:

Weapons not food, not homes, not shoes
Not need, just feed the war cannibal animal
I walk the corner to the rubble that used to be a library
Line up to the mind cemetery now
What we don’t know keeps the contracts alive and moving
They don’t gotta burn the books; they just remove ’em
While arms warehouses fill as quick as the cells
Rally round the family; pocket full of shells!

I’m glad to say that the band has lost none of their righteous anger and revolutionary zeal. Their lyrics are all about fighting back against injustice, and there can be no greater injustice than arms corporations profiting from war and repression.

Rage Against The Machine saluting the crowdSee Flickr for the full set of pics.

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