Mayday Mayhem For Police As Summer of Rage Continues!

The head of the march as it charged through the streets of Brighton

South Wales Anarchists joined up to 2000 people from around the UK in Brighton on May 4th for the largest demonstration to date against Brighton based ‘EDO/MBM’ bomb component factory, organised by Smash EDO.

The MayDay Mayday Street Party against war, the arms trade and capitalism was a lively and colourful march that started at Brighton’s sea front. It continued through the town and paid visits to a number of local branches of multi-national corporations, including McDonalds, RBS, HSBC and Lloyds which invest in ITT, the corporation which owns EDO.

Activists scaled scaffolding on Barclays bank to drop a banner demanding “arms dealers out of Brighton”. Police paid special attention to protect a branch of McDonalds which proved to be a flash point with a police van nearly being tipped over and a flare set off underneath it.

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Compared with previous EDO demos, policing was relatively hands-off initially, without the automatic attempt by police to cordon every man, woman, child or dog in sight. However, batons and pepper spray were used on activists during the day as riot police attempted to control the march and activists successfully forced back mounted police a number of times. Of course, the police ‘Forward Intelligence Teams’ were present but were forced to retreat behind police lines as FIT- watching activists made their job of intrusively filming protestors more difficult.

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

It seemed that many activists had learnt from the G20 protests and refused to be drawn into long fights with the police. Activists instead found alternative routes and kept moving around the streets when unable to break through police lines quickly, outwitting the cops and leaving them stranded waiting for orders. At one point the cops themselves were ‘kettled’ (penned in) thanks to protestors’ quick thinking. The demonstrators’ refusal not to be kettled or subjected to violence by the police meant that officers were often surrounded and outflanked.

Towards the evening, as the march appeared to retire to the park by St. Peters church and just as riot police had storm-trooped away, the party took to the streets again taking us all by surprise! The streets were again re-claimed by activists and local young people, running through the streets of Brighton, through the Pavilion and back towards the beach for more partying.

Police on the back foot

Police on the back foot

Many felt that the police were on the back-foot at this time since the G20 protests and due to the associated bad press officers received for their tactics. While the police may have been aware of the public eye upon them and tried to behave themselves a bit more on this occasion, the fact is that the police continue to protect private corporations who profit from war and death; meeting resistance to this with violence and repression. While slightly less violent and oppressive policing may be an improvement, better still would be no police at all and the complete freedom to shut down EDO and all corporations who are responsible for the continuation of the bloody war machine.

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SOUTH WALES ACTIVISTS SAY ‘SHUT ITT!’

edo1South 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.

SmashEDO film showing in Newport this Saturday

This Saturday 4th October members of the Smash EDO campaign will be coming to Newport, to promote the next upcoming SHUT ITT! mass demo. Their film On the Verge came to Newport and Cardiff in April, then in June South Wales Anarchists were present at the Carnival against the Arms Trade in Brighton. This time they will be showing Batons ‘n’ Bombs the story of what happened on what has been dubbed ‘Red Wednesday’.

The film showing will take place at 4pm at TJs, entry is free. Before the film showing at 2pm there is a protest against ID cards outside the Passport office. Afterwards there will be the second day of the No Border Fest, also at Tjs. Please come to all three.