The Summer of Resistance

Smash EDO’s Summer of Resistance — three months of action against the EDO arms factory in Brighton – has drawn to a close. The summer has been a huge success, with activists campaigning in all sorts of creative ways.

The usual noise demos were complemented by a range of other actions at the factory: bad music/karaoke demos, an “art not war” painting session, a “Down the Drones” kite-flying afternoon, and the naming of those who have been killed in Israeli air strikes since 2009.

There have also been phone and Twitter blockades of EDO MBM and its parent company, ITT Exelis, where the factory was bombarded with calls and tweets. One irate EDO worker told an activist to “shoot yourself in the head with a gun!”

We have also held critical mass bike rides through Brighton, pickets outside Barclays bank (Barclays is the largest global investor in the arms trade), direct action workshops, and we have hosted guest speakers, who have visited to talk to the public about the arms trade.

There were two huge mass demonstrations. At the Don’t Attack Iran demonstration, protesters marched through Brighton to raise awareness about the prospect of an attack on Iran. The second march, the Brighton Citizens’ Weapons Inspection, saw concerned citizens from all over the country join in solidarity and march in weapons inpectors’ suits to the factory. The protesters were greeted by a steel wall, erected by the police, as well as riot cops and horses. Not to be deterred, a group of activists locked onto the wall, and traffic to and from the arms factory was stopped dead.

In the final week of the Summer of Resistance, London’s Campaign Against Arms Trade travelled down to Brighton in solidarity. They campaigned outside Barclays and also up at the factory, with a banner stating , “EDO – Peddlers of Death”. We were also privileged to host guest speaker Andrew Feinstein, author of Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, and former member of parliament for the ANC. He informed the enthralled audience of the harrowing and secretive world of the global arms trade.

Feinstein stated that 40% of corruption in world trade takes place in the arms trade, and he talked about the link between arms companies and the funding of political parties. Aptly, Feinstein told the audience that Barclays bank is the bank of choice for arms dealers, and in South Africa, Barclays has the right to veto any government spending over a certain level until 2018!

Feinstein states that ‘SmashEDO’s resistance to the shameful, corrupt global arms trade is a living example of Margaret Mead’s belief that action by a small group of committed citizens is the best, the only, way to change the world. I endorse the campaign’s credo that “Every bomb that is dropped, every bullet that is fired, has to be made somewhere. And wherever that is, it can be resisted.”

Smash EDO would like to thank everyone who has shown their support and participated in the Summer of Resistance. We are taking a break in August, but will be back in September with lots of energy for a winter season of resistance against the arms trade.

Corrupt Brighton arms company activities challenged in court

CASE NAME: R-v-Nero and Pidwell

VENUE: Brighton Magistrates Court Edward Street, Brighton TIME: 10:am DATE: 31 July 2012 – 2 August 2012

On 31 July 2012, two anti-war activists will face charges of Aggravated Trespass in Brighton Magistrates Court. In their defence they will present evidence of the unlawful business activities of Brighton arms company EDO MBM Technology Ltd, a subsidiary of US arms maker ITT Exelis Inc. a $1.7billion multinational arms, security, and intelligence technology company. Jessica Nero and Gavin Pidwell were arrested on 26 April 2011 after blocking the firm’s factory gates in protest at its ongoing manufacture of weapons system umbilical connectors being supplied for use on the new Israeli F-35 aircraft, as well as US F-16, and A-10 fighter jets, all of which carry illegal cluster bombs as part of their arsenals. Section 2 (2) of The Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010 makes it an offence for any British person or resident to assist the use of cluster bombs. The Managing Director of EDO MBM, Paul Hills will be a prosecution witness on the first day of the trial and is expected to be cross-examined on the lawfulness of his business by the defendants legal team. Smash EDO spokesperson Andrew Becket commented: ‘There is clear documentary evidence in this case that EDO MBM have engaged in unlawful activities- including assistance in the use of US cluster bombs and the supply of military equipment for Israeli war planes contrary to UK domestic law.’ The case is set to last to last 3 days. The defendants are represented by Teresa Blades of Kellys Solicitors, Brighton. Continue reading

EDO MBM shut-down after activists lock on to police cordon

On Monday 16th July anti arms trade campaigners held a mass ‘citizens’ weapons inspection’ of the EDO MBM arms factory in Brighton.

Just before 1pm scores of people identically dressed in white weapons inspector suits and brandishing scale models of Paveway bombs, the weapons EDO MBM manufacture in conjunction with Raytheon for NATO troops in Afghanistan, met at the Level in Brighton. Numbers soon swelled to close to a hundred despite heavy rain.

They were met by several vanloads of police from Sussex, Kent and Hampshire, Evidence Gathering Teams (EGT) and Police Liaison Officers (PLOs). PLOs are a new police tactic which is being trialed by several forces as a way of dealing with potential threats from mass demonstrations. The tactic is based on a consultation with Dr Clifford Stott, owner of a company called Crowd and Conflict Management.

PLOs were countered by teams of FITwatchers who used banners and placards to prevent PLOs entering the mass of the demonstration.

The assembled weapons inspectors heard speeches from Smash EDO, FITwatch and from one of the Decommissioners, the affinity group who broke into EDO in 2009 and sabotaged the production line to prevent the supply of weapons components to the Israeli military for its ongoing massacre in Gaza.

The march began, surrounded on three sides by banners, including a reinforced front banner, and accompanied by several sound systems.

Passers-by on the Lewes Road were given information about the ongoing campaign against the Brighton arms factory.

The police followed the march with vans and motorcycle cops but were hands-off until the marcers arrived at Home Farm Road.

The demonstration turned into Home Farm Road, where the EDO factory is based and was faced by a line of police watching from the verge above them. About three quarters of the way up the road police had erected an eight foot tall metal and perspex crowd barrier, entirely blocking the road, flanked by Hares fencing cages. As demonstrators approached the barrier police could be seen through Perspex windows. The South section of Home Farm Road was occupied by scores of police vans, the majority from Kent, mounted police and CCTV vans. The barrier was designed to slide open to let traffic through.

Undeterred, the weapons inspectors produced d-locks and lock-on tubes which they used to fix themselves to the police cordon, thus completely closing down the industrial estate and preventing movement in or out of EDO MBM.

Other inspectors, intent on getting to the factory, climbed over a fence behind the police cordon and managed to hang a banner directly opposite the factory gates, despite hundreds of police attempting to enforce the Section 14.

The unit of police occupying the verge above approached and, after a stand-off lasting nearly an hour, announced a Section 14 was in place.

Protesters were unable to hear the Section 14 order at the time but were later told (during police interviews) that the cops intended to keep them behind the cordon until 4pm and then clear the road. Anyone who disobeyed was liable for arrest.

Police eventually managed to move the protesters who had not locked-on further down Home Farm Road, making five arrests in the process. They then began to scratch their heads on how to remove the lock-on.

The last of the locked-down protesters were not removed by a cutting team until 5.30pm. The four were arrested and taken to Hollingbury nick. The detainees were released at 1am. Sussex Police, keen to take any opportunity to limit the ability of the Smash EDO campaign to organize against the company, imposed stringent bail condition preventing protest at the factory and, despite the minor nature of the charges, conditions for defendants not to contact one another. Attempts were made to remand one detainee, but police were later forced to release her by a technicality, namely that the charges were made-up.

The demonstration was a part of Smash EDO’s Summer of Resistance, three months of relentless action against the factories which has included mass demonstratration, critical masses, phone blockades, and an art not war demonstration to name but a few. There’s still ten days of the Summer of Resistance to go – why not come and do your own action.

This weekend Smash EDO hosted a gathering to organize a mass mobilization against the G8 conference, to be held in the UK in 2013. Participants in the gathering came from all over the UK with contingents from Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, London, Cardiff, Lewes and Edinburgh to name just a few. The gathering launched a new network aiming to meet in locations around the UK in the coming year to build resistance to the G8. A workshop is planned at Earth First in August and the next gathering will be held on Saturday 23rd September in Birmingham.