As the UK adjusts to life under lockdown and social distancing measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, local groups and campaigners are taking their work online. Things are difficult right now, but alongside the anxiety and fear there are local and national networks of people connecting, supporting and caring for each other. Meaningful change needs strong communities, and the strong relationships and solidarity of our local groups and networks can help us.
With arms companies and governments forces to recognise that war and militarism cannot protect us from the real threats we face and redeploying troops and resources towards public health, this is also a moment of deep transition and change. Nothing will be the same afterwards, and social justice campaigners need to help shape the conversation about what comes next.
London CAAT are one of the groups who have taken their meetings online. They have even held an online day of action, shifting their vigil for Yemen online. Long-time campaigner and London CAAT member Ian Pocock says:
Creative Action online: People show support for the victims of the Yemen war
For obvious reasons, activism on the streets is not an option at the moment but we can continue our activism in other ways (all hail the internet!). For example, we couldn’t hold our vigil for Yemen as planned at the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation, so we held an online day of action alongside activists from across Europe. Keeping it simple in terms of asks seemed to work (a maximum of two should do it).
We asked people to post about the devastating effect of the war on the Yemeni people and the UK’s complicity in it as well as asking them to write to the Attorney General to ask him to move forward with the prosecution of Airbus on corruption charges regarding a deal to supply communications equipment to the Saudi Arabian National Guard – you can still do that here.
When asking people to make posts online, including some suggested text and statistics for social media posts increases the likelihood of people taking action as it makes it easy for them to repost. Providing them with relevant information and links is also useful – they can include this info in any actions they take/posts they write.
When meetings are online, you need to facilitate them differently. During our last meeting, we used a hands up system – i.e. when someone wanted to speak, they raised their hand and the chair would give them the floor, so to speak. This prevented people speaking over each other. One person wasn’t able to get their video to work so we got them to write a letter in the chat function when they wanted to speak but obviously it is best to get everyone on camera as that aids the flow of the meeting so sending round clear instructions on how to use whatever software you are using is key.
You could also ask people who are using the software for the first time/think they will struggle with it to sign on with you prior to the meeting so you can troubleshoot any problems. Most of the packages include options for sharing your screen so that can allow you to share any websites or documents with others (and allow them to share anything relevant too).
Each group may take different approaches but it is worth thinking about how you onboard new members (this can equally apply to in person meetings too!), both in terms of how you introduce them to your group and its purpose when you can’t meet them in person and also in terms of security, particularly if your actions involve non-violent direct action. We’ll be sharing more tips on that in the next week or two so stay tuned!
A few weeks ago London CAAT got together with some people from Art not Oil to host a public meeting about corporate museum sponsorship. It was an inspiring day with a lot of passion in the room and some great ideas on how to challenge the unethical sponsorship deals some museums have. If you’d like to join the campaign, come to the next London CAAT meeting on November 15th!
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.
The London CAAT group looks ahead to a busy year of protesting.
Who we are
London CAAT is a friendly group, made up of both new and more seasoned campaigners, who are committed to making a difference in London, the global hub of the arms trade. We’re an active bunch and there’s plenty to get involved with!
Global Day of Action on Military Spending – 17 April
Three of us had the dubious pleasure of donning masks of the three presenters of the show (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May) but our visual presence did help us engage with the public on the issue of Clarion’s involvement in the arms trade. A number of passers-by were sympathetic to our cause and a couple were as vehemently opposed to the arms trade as London CAAT are. Continue reading “Top Gear not Top Gun”
Ian Pocock writes about London CAAT’s demonstration at the International Fine Art & Antiques Fair.
London CAAT members maintained the pressure on Clarion Events with a demonstration outside the International Fine Art & Antiques Fair at Kensington Olympia on Saturday 11 June. After being moved on by the over-zealous security guards, we took up a position outside the entrance to the tube station.
Ian Pocock reports on London CAAT’s protest as part of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending
On Tuesday 12 April I took part in a protest London CAAT organised to coincide with the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. Ten of us turned up outside the Treasury and stayed for an hour to engage with passersby and Treasury staff. A die-in halfway through the hour attracted a lot of attention and was an eye-catching way to make our point. Inventive chants such as Welfare not Warfare, A&E not BAE and Sure Start not War Start also helped, as did the loud-hailer. Continue reading “Global Day of Action on Military Spending protest”