Tag Archives: CAAT

Trident protest wraps Ministry of Defence in peace scarf

The plan began over two years ago, with the idea of creating a 7-mile long ‘peace scarf’ to connect the Burghfield and Aldermarston nuclear weapon facilities in Berkshire.

As ‘Wool Against Weapons’ (http://www.woolagainstweapons.co.uk) grew, a date was set – Aug 9th 2014 (Nagasaki Day) – and lengths of pink scarf flooded in from all over the UK and abroad.

In the lead up to that event, local groups of knitters staged media events with their own lengths of scarf, often gaining local media interest, and personalising the protest and the issues.

With the Government currently committed to spending over £80billion on renewing the Trident weapon programme at a time of so-called austerity, the 9th August was a huge success, so rather than waste all that pink knitting on just one event, it was carefully packed into dozens of large rolls, and brought to London for the #WrapUpTrident stunt on Saturday.

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More than a thousand protestors gathered at the front door of the Ministry of Defence in Horseguards Parade, blessed with dry and beautifully sunny weather, and roll after roll was caringly unwound and handed out to volunteers who headed down Whitehall to Westminster Bridge Road, then back along the Embankment. not just meeting the start, but doubling up two layers round the imposing white building.

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The stunt was followed by a march down Whitehall to a rally and speeches in Old Palace Yard, where an array of speakers including veteran Ben Griffin, were introduced by Jeremy Corbyn MP and Kate Hudson (Campaign Against Nuclear Disaramament).

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There will be a civil disobedience blockade at Burghfield nuclear weapons facility on the 2nd March (http://actionawe.org/topics/burghfieldlockdown/).

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Protests at Arms Dealers’ Charity Dinner – report and pics

A few dozen people, including a small ‘critical mass’ style bike ride, took part tonight in a protest outside the traditional dealers’ dinner before the last day of the DSEI international arms fair.

At around 6.30, a bicycle sound system and about ten cyclists rode up the Commercial Road, at the end of their journey from the Bank of England to the ‘Troxy’ venue near Limehouse, where arms dealers from this year’s DSEI arms fair were holding their gala dinner with tables at £2500 each for food, drinks and a boxing tournament, organised to raise money for wounded soldiers – the irony!

At the same time, just as guests began to arrive, two women took up position at the front of the short red-rope walkway to the entrance. They held up their hands, stained red to symbolise blood, and stood completely silent, as police approached and asked them to move. Image

After a few more minutes, some  more protestors approached, quickly blocking the entrance and sitting with a banner bearing the words, “Arms Dealers Here Today – This Is Not OK”.

One also lay down in a body bag and gas mask.Image

As they shuffled backwards slightly, there was a slight scuffle as a police officer, Constable McIlvaney GD876, took it upon himself to push one of the women over without warning.Image

Despite the attack, she regained her composure and once again stood silently, as other officers moved in and the situation calmed.

As this was happening, more protestors arrived wearing grim reaper costumes and masks, and carrying model scythes. They unfurled a large black banner that read “Think we’re scary? You’ll find Arms Dealers inside”.Image

Throughout, more guests were arriving, including various military folk in slightly comical red costumes, some with bizarre ceremonial stirrups, and many sporting a small array of medals. Other guests were of course arms businessmen in their suits.Image

The very occasional female guests, in full dinner gown mode, were told “There’s nothing glamorous about tonight’s dinner”, while the dealers were greeted with chants of “Shame on you, Blood on your hands”.

Police had set up a protest zone 25 metres away on the other side of the busy Commercial Road, but despite the initial warnings, they relented, and the protestors kept their vigil outside the building, a beautifully restored art deco grand cinema now hired out for events, forcing many of the guests to perform a walk of shame along the front of the building behind a police line to reach the doors.Image

I did discover a back door, heavily policed, where I have no doubt, some special guests slunk in.

As well as an overt Forward Intelligence Team with photographer, and an intrusion of Police Liaison Officers (also known to gather intelligence despite their public face of friendly policing), there were some other people keeping an eye on things. First, across the road was an unmarked surveillance vehicle, with an HD broadcast-quality raised camera, beaming live images via a Land Rover satellite dish vehicle to what the occupants described as a secure server.Image

They wouldn’t reveal who the client was, but it isn’t thought to be the police. There was also a man taking pictures on his mobile and continually phoning in reports – he has been seen all week at DSEI protests, but refuses to give any information as to his role. He was also joined by an associate with a camera, who has been spotted previously at City protests. And a little way down the road, another younger man sat in a posh BMW for the full two hours, using his phone from time to time. Two other characters, one wearing a discreet earphone, kept an eye on the front of the building.

People acting in a similar manner at previous City protests are known to work for a private security and intelligence company hired by major financial corporations. Clearly similar or the same interests are at work around DSEI.Image

Around 8.30, the lights at the front of the building went out, and the demonstrators dispersed, as the party continued late into the night at the Troxy.

As is usual at the biennial arms fair, illegal weapons were openly being sold until activists uncovered them and the organisers had to expel them. On this occasion, two companies were found out, and after Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, raised the matter in the House of Commons, they were hastily asked to leave.

Among this year’s guests at the arms fair were Bahrain, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

DSEI Arms Fair ‘Critical Mass’ and Blockade – report and pics

On the first day of action against the biennial DSEI arms fair at Excel in Newham, protestors can claim some victory after blocking one of the two entrances for four hours, and causing disruption at the other gate for a couple of hours, seriously affecting the first of two get-in days before the official opening on Tuesday. There were more than a dozen arrests and some scuffles during the afternoon.Image

At 10am this morning, around 30 cyclists convened outside the Bank of England to take part in the traditional arms fair critical mass bike ride to the Excel Centre in Newham. Watched by a FIT team in a Range Rover, and followed by one police van, they set off at about 10.40,Image heading east at a leisurely pace along the Commercial Rd, led by good selection of uplifting tunes from a mobile sound system, and often taking over the whole carriageway amid light traffic on a Sunday morning.Image

Nearing Excel, they briefly lost their escort by doubling back and taking an off-road cycle route,Image but with helicopter above and police vans everywhere, this was short-lived.

After a stop for announcements and guide to the area, the mass took a ‘scenic route’ to finally arrive at the East Gate on the stroke of midday,Image just as people on foot poured onto the roundabout under a ‘closed for maintenance’ DLR flyover, unfurling their tents and banners.Image

More and more people flooded into the space, probably close to 200 in total, and under cover of one of the larger banners, three people lay down in arm locks to block one of the two entrance gates, catching police off guard.Image

Singers, dancers, and samba all added to create a carnival atmosphere, and soon the main road in was cordoned off by protestors using mock police yellow tape bearing the words “Warning: Arms Trade At Work – This Is Not OK”.Image

Around 12.30, the first of several large vehicles queued in front of this blockade, transporting two huge boats, followed later by a small tank, all aiming for a car park area which had been set aside as an “Oversize Exhibit Area”. In front of the tape were a Christian group, a die-in, and some picnickers, and at first police numbers grew, but then there was obviously some order to stand down, and after an hour or so the vehicles were helped to reverse away, and one aim of the protest, to disrupt the set-up of the arms fair was clearly achieved.

The Occupy crew set up a small kitchen and an info tent, while children played in an art area, and others played with a skipping rope among the tents.Image

It was clear that no vehicles were going to get into Excel via these East gates, although a few visitors decanted from their taxis and were led in behind police cordons on foot.

Meanwhile at 1pm, there were some speeches on a sound system, including some words of support from Natalie Bennet (Green Party), and from a delegation from Bahrain.

A small group had headed over to the West Gate, the only other entrance to the site. For around half an hour they succeeded in closing that gate, but after police threats of arrest, they were content to close half the gate, forcing traffic the wrong way round a small roundabout, and shouting and holding banners up as a continuous stream of vehicles entered and left by the only open route to the site.

Near 3pm, as one vehicle left, an elderly man blocked its path, and he was quickly grabbed and roughly escorted out of the way by police.Image Very soon after, a senior officer started to make an announcement on a megaphone.Image The crowd responded with a lot of noise, turning up the sound system, and whistling and shouting. I certainly couldn’t hear what was being said. It also triggered more action, and another large articulated lorry exiting the site had its path blocked by people holding up a banner.Image

Police moved in, snatching the banner, and other activists ran under the lorry, which started to drive on, nearly crushing them.Image As the driver was forced to stop by protestors running in front, shouting and banging for him to stop, he reacted with rude gestures. Fortunately, no-one was hurt, as police also eventually intervened to stop him, but then there were scuffles as police dragged people out from under the lorry, and also started pushing people without warning off the road.Image

One particular officer, Constable Williamson, deserves a mention, as although he was one of the larger cops, he appeared to only attack the younger smaller women amongst the crowdImage – not only this, but he had obviously lost his rag completely, AND his lapels were hidden by his raincoat – other officers wearing coats were showing their lapel numbers.Image

During the course of the scuffles, several people were arrested and led or carried off in handcuffs,


Imageand lines of police accompanied the artic away from the area, while the samba band played on.Image

There were further games with slow bicycles, and an Abbey Road style use of zebra crossing,Image holding up a by now long line of vehicles trying to enter the Excel Centre, including diplomatic cars sporting an array of Middle Eastern flags.

Then some Newham Council officials turned up and claimed that the roundabout and pavements were private land, and with ever greater threats of arrest, the remaining protestors decided to return to the East gate, leaving just one lone woman to wave her banner at vehicles entering the compound.Image

Back east, police had also been imposing conditions, and the lock-on had been removed, with several arrests, including Christians who refused to end their sit-in. The roundabout was now surrounded by lines of TSG, and one gate was finally open to visiting traffic.Image

By 5.30, there were only about 30 people left, some hoping to stay in their tents overnight. To that end, they went round with a board claiming Section 6 squatter rights, which they showed to as many of the officers as they could.Image

There is a packed timeline of events planned for the rest of the week, with full details available at http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/events/