London CAAT display their banner outside Radio Free Brighton.
London CAAT group took a day trip to Brighton to support Smash EDO’s “Summer of Resistance”.
On Tuesday, 24 July, members of the London CAAT group went on a day-trip to Brighton. As it happens, it was the first hot summer day and I wish I could say it was the traditional Londoners’ day out at the seaside. Sadly, despite its “alternative” image, Brighton is the home of EDO MBM/ITT, a part of ITT Exelis, a weapons manufacturer whose products include bomb racks, release clips and arming mechanisms for warplanes.
In 2004 two managing directors of the company have confirmed that the company owns the patents of two components used by the Israeli Air Force F16 aircraft called the VER-2. On 21 April 2009 the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, admitted in Parliament that UK military components had been used by the Israeli Air Force in its illegal attacks on Gaza: “British made components for F16s have been exported to the United States where Israel was the ultimate end-user.” Read CAAT’s response here.
Summer of Resistance
Since 2004 local campaigners and their supporters have been waging a valiant and resilient campaign to close EDO MBM, under the “Smash EDO” banner. London CAAT had been planning for some time to go down and support their “Summer of Resistance”.
As it happened, that Tuesday some of the “citizen weapons inspectors” were in court as a result of the “weapons inspection” the previous week (see Beth Smith’s blog of 19 July) and ten of them were prevented by bail conditions from going to the factory, but they still arranged for us to be welcomed. We had also heard the previous day that we had an interview at Radio Free Brighton, a community radio station!
In the morning we displayed our message “EDO Peddlers of Death” on a banner outside Barclays Bank in the city centre. This was also to draw attention to Barclays’ role as the largest UK investor in the global arms trade (they hold shares worth £7.3 billion, according to War on Want’s Banking on Bloodshed report). Barclays also provide ‘market maker’ services for EDO/MBM’s parent, ITT Corporation, on the New York Stock Exchange.
We handed out postcards and many of the people passing expressed interest and sympathy with the campaign. Some had been involved in anti-arms trade protests. Two of our number had a lengthy debate with a former ITT employee, but felt it was not a complete waste of time.
In the afternoon we were warmly welcomed at Radio Free Brighton. The presenter, Jackie, explained that their philosophy was to give ordinary people an opportunity to say what they wanted to say in their own words, so we had half an hour to talk unscripted about why we were there and why we supported CAAT! You never know what new experiences you will have as a CAAT supporter, but I hope we did justice to CAAT and “Smash EDO’s” campaign!
The road to EDO
We then made our way to the pleasant suburb where EDO/MBM is situated. It was hard to believe that this innocuous-looking building, backed by trees and under a clear blue sky, is involved in such a deadly trade. We displayed our banner on the fence opposite the factory and chanted “EDO must go” and “EDO Peddlers of Death”. A rejoinder from the factory showed that someone had heard!
We then walked back down the hill, politely declining offers of water (and even a lift!) from friendly local constabulary, who had brought reinforcements, in the form of a second van. As factory employees left work, we joined a noise protest on the Lewes Road by “Smash EDO” supporters who were not allowed nearer the factory. We were glad that we were able to offer them some support. A number of motorists hooted, mostly in sympathy (I think!)
In September CAAT local groups all over the country will be campaigning against arms manufacturers in their areas. Get involved!
“Every bomb that is dropped, every bullet that is fired in the name of this war of terror has to be made somewhere. And wherever that is, it can be resisted.”
Listen to CAAT interview on Radio Free Brighton.