Anti-arms activists in Birmingham had a busy week protesting against Clarion Events’ Baby Show.
Clarion Events is the owner and organiser of several arms fairs, including the forthcoming Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) in London in September. Clarion sees no contradiction between organising consumer shows, like the Baby Show, and arms fairs.
Before the Baby Show opened, activists took their message to prospective customers of Mothercare, one of the principal sponsors of the Baby Show. On Monday 16 May and Friday 20 May, campaigners ran an information stall and leafleted outside Mothercare in central Birmingham. Many people turned away in disgust. Others went inside and asked the management why they were supporting arms dealers. Most people were interested in talking about the issues. The result: Mothercare had a very quiet day of trading.
On both Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 May campaigners were outside the Baby Show at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), giving out information and talking to people as they arrived and left the exhibition. Security staff were out in force and did their best to sideline activists. Nevertheless, they were visible and vocal and made all those attending aware that the Baby Show is run by arms dealers.
Despite the ridiculously high levels of security, some activists managed to enter the Baby Show itself. The backstage area of the main stage and the stands of principal sponsors were attacked with stink bombs to draw attention to Clarion’s willingness to exhibit and sell real bombs, including to repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Engaging with the public and disrupting the sanitised consumer fest that is the Baby Show is all part of the ongoing mobilisation against the weapons trade in all its forms, and the role played by Clarion Events and arms fairs. There will be more activity in the run-up to DSEI.