This week I travelled down to Brighton to take part in the Smash EDO citizens weapons inspection of the EDO/ITT factory. My protest buddy and I, armed with waterproofs and jelly babies, met the demonstration in the centre of Brighton and were given ‘weapons inspector’ outfits and face masks as well as legal advice on the protest.
Why were we there?
“Since 2001, EDO/ITT’s products have been used to attack civilian populations in Afghanistan, Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia and Pakistan.” Smash EDO website
Since 2004, campaigners from Brighton and beyond have been calling for EDO MBM/ITT to close. (Look here for an explanation of EDO’s associated acronyms!) Smash EDO is probably the strongest and most resilient campaign against a local arms company site in the UK at the moment. Since 2004 they have held demonstrations every week and mass demonstrations have attracted thousands. In 2009, as the Israeli military bombed the people of Gaza, six decommissioners entered the factory, taking hammers to machines making components sold to the Israeli army. The decommissioners argued that they acted to disarm a factory complicit in war crimes and were all found not guilty.
The ‘citizens weapons inspection’ was part of Smash EDO’s Summer of Resistance, a summer of actions and events against the EDO/ITT factory.
We started our march in the centre of Brighton. In the cold and rain, around forty weapons inspectors with banners and placards made their way up to Home Farm Road where the factory is based.
We then found the road ahead of us obstructed by a massive police barricade. The police had blockaded the road for us! Protesters quickly locked on in front of the barricade in order to ensure that the road was well and truly blocked (the police barricade looked like it could open to allow vehicles through). Later the police moved in to form a barrier between us and those locked-on, and gradually pushed us further back along the road.
What can I do?
The Summer of Resistance is the perfect opportunity for you to get involved. Smash EDO offer all sorts of help and advice for groups planning their own actions. There are also organised events you can join in with. London CAAT are having an action next Tuesday at the factory; get in touch with them to go along too.
Smash EDO are refusing to allow a factory which is complicit in such devastation to exist unchallenged. The huge police presence at demonstrations like this represents yet another way in which the state supports the arms trade, this time by trying to prevent protest against it. However, despite being frustrating, the high number of police in attendance on Monday shows that the campaign is being taken seriously, that it represents a powerful challenge to the interests of the arms trade.
In September, a year before the 2013 DSEI arms fair, CAAT is calling for a month of action against local arms companies. From a quick photo exposing where your local site is, to a triathlon between local sites, to non-violent direct action, there’s loads of ways to get involved. Get in touch on outreach(at)caat*org*uk for help with getting involved. Let’s show arms companies that they are not welcome in our communities!
“Every bomb that is dropped, every bullet that is fired, has to be made somewhere. And wherever that is, it can be resisted.”
Read Smash EDO’s account of the action.