South Wales activists travelled to Brighton to take part in the ‘Shut ITT’ demonstration on 15th October 2008, which aimed to shut down the EDO MBM arms factory there. They joined 400 activists from around the country in this mass anti-militarist action.
EDO MBM Technology Ltd is owned by ITT, a US-based multinational arms dealer. They have contracts with the UK Ministry of ‘Defence’ and US arms giant Raytheon (see the article on St Athan) to supply the release mechanisms for the Paveway III guided bomb system. The Paveway bomb was the most commonly used munition in the 2003 ‘shock and awe’ destruction of Baghdad and murder of thousands of innocent Iraqis. After four years of setbacks, Paveway IV is now in full production in the UK. EDO also makes components for tanks, helicopters and unmanned combat air vehicles. Research into the company has revealed direct links between its supply of Israeli F16 bomb release units, and war crimes committed by the Israeli military in the Occupied Territories.
Before the march moved off, police read out a ‘Section 60’ notice, used to enforce the removal of face coverings. A number of arrests were made at this early stage for failing to comply with the instruction and for obstructing police in their ‘duty’. The 400-strong march then started on its way, with the aim of reaching the factory to protest. However, as the group approached the EDO factory, its progress was blocked by a large number of police. Attempts were made to break through police lines, only to be met with batons, pepper spray used at short range and cops in full riot gear. Half the protestors then took to an elevated wooded area, giving access to the rear of the factory. Along the way there were further skirmishes with cops and their dogs. Some of the police officers present, batons drawn, appeared to be provoking protestors. In spite of this repression, the back of the factory still got covered in red paint.
The protesters eventually managed to evade all police cordons and marched into the centre of Brighton. A substantial number of activists made a break into a park, the cops having lost control. A party on the beach followed after six hours of protest. There were ten arrests, four houses searched and up to twenty protesters injured by police. For more information on this ongoing campaign, see www.smashedo.org.uk.