Smash EDO protest in Brighton
Hundreds of protesters attended the Smash EDO demonstration to protest against the Brighton defence contractor which manufactures weapon components used by the Israeli’s during the violence against Palestine. Brighton, UK, 18/01/2010.
EDO/MBM ITT is a top ten US defence contractor and the facility in Brighton manufactures weapons components that have been used by the Israeli’s against Palestine. The protest on the 18th January 2010 was to mark the one year anniversary of the end of Operation Cast Lead – which began with a shock attack on Gaza involving 88 aircraft simultaneously striking 100 pre planned targets within 220 seconds on December 27 2008. 1417 Palestinians were killed in the three week siege.
Hundreds of protesters wearing black gathered at the Moulsecoomb Wild Park Cafe just after midday and the march to Home Farm Road began around 2pm. At the entrance of Home Farm Road black coffins were placed in the middle of the road and names of those that were killed were read out. The police had the road blocked off by riot vans and so a bloc of protesters scaled the hill in order to get to the back of the facility though the woods. Meanwhile a few protesters advanced toward the police line of vans on Home Farm Road and were met with police running in and forming a blockade a few hundred yards in front of the vans. One woman was pushed violently to the floor by the police as she was advancing up the street.
At the back of the facility protesters were met by a small police presence and eventually the protest advanced down a path to a larger open space followed by police horses. Here protesters climbed a steep hill and tried to get inside the fence. The police responded and moved people back down the hill protecting the fence. There were outbreaks of fighting with police and a few ‘missiles’ thrown. At this point police with riot shields turned up and protesters retreated back up towards the woods. Some people managed to get into the facility when they were returning up the path but were met with a strong police presence inside.
The protest regrouped at approximately 3:30 pm by the entrance to Home Farm Road and began heading toward the city centre. Traffic was stopped by the police in both directions and protesters made it to the university at which point police claimed there was a unrelated accident in the street. The road was fully blocked for at least 20 minutes.
The march resumed but was stopped once again at 4:15 pm near Elm Grove on Lewes Road. At this point the officer in charge of policing the event addressed the protest stating he would not allow the march to continue imposing Section 14 of the Public Order Act. This allows the police to impose specific conditions if they fear a threat of intimidation, violence, criminal damage or disruption to community life. In spite of this the protest continued through the park onto Ditchling Road, eventually ending up on the corner of North Road and Regent Street where the police boxed in a number of the protesters around 4.30 pm.
A standoff ensued until around 6.00 pm. Music was played and the atmosphere was very peaceful despite police snatch squads arresting anyone wearing black that they could get their hands on in sporadic outbursts. At one point the police charged down the end of Gardner St bringing many protesters to the floor, and in return one officer was set upon and brought to the ground by a handful of people. Despite many arrests there was no attempt by protesters to cause damage to the surrounding areas or businesses within the city. The aim and emphasis remained to demonstrate against EDO. Many residents and onlookers waited around to see what was happening and protesters were handing out leaflets informing people of their actions.
Eventually the police presence fully dispersed as did the protesters.