Thursday 2nd June 2005
EMBARGO. For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Andrew Beckett 07875 708873
EIGHT ARRESTS AS POLICE USE VIOLENT TACTICS TO DEFEND
BRIGHTON ARMS FACTORY
Peace campaigners have blamed intimidating and dangerous police tactics for clashes outside Brighton arms dealers EDO MBM’s factory on 31st May. This was the first major demonstration outside the factory since the granting of an interim injunction against protests under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
Around eighty protestors gathered outside EDO’s factory at 3pm and were confronted with a similar number of police. Police immediately attempted to confine protestors to a narrow grass verge, which borders a fifty-foot drop onto a railway line.
Confrontation was sparked when police pursued an 84 year old man onto the verge to arrest him for obstructing the highway. As the police wrestled him to the ground horrified onlookers including his daughter attempted to intervene. A police charge pushed parts of the crowd including children close to the cliff edge. Ultimately eight arrests were made for offences ranging from obstruction of the highway to the more serious charge of assaulting the police. Significantly none of those arrested were charged with breaching the injunction.
Andrew Beckett press spokesman for the campaign said “This was a clear attempt by Sussex Police to intimidate people out of their right to protest. Sussex Police suggested that EDO MBM seek an exclusion zone from the High Court in the first place. The restriction on protests was comprehensively rejected by Judge Gross who said,‘The right to freedom of expression is jealously guarded in English law’. He made it clear that there was to be no restriction on the timing, size or noise of demonstrations at the weapons factory. Police tactics on the day were unreasonable, anti-democratic, and violent and could easily have resulted in serious injury or even death. The fact that the police haven’t charged anyone with breaching the injunction shows it to be a flimsy legal pretext for repression. Despite this we will not be silenced ”
SMASH EDO invites press and anyone who is against the arms trade and for freedom of speech to join them for a national demonstration.
DEFY THE INJUNCTION-DISARM THE BOMB MAKERS
SATURDAY JUNE 11TH 12PM ON THE LEVEL, BRIGHTON.
Noise Demos every Wednesday 4 ‘til 6
Notes for Journalists
Brighton&Hove is a UN Peace Messenger City.
The injunction referred to was served under the1997 Protection from Harassment Act (originally designed to protect women from stalkers) and is the first of its kind directed at activists outside of the animal rights movement. Crucially it is a civil injunction, which carries criminal penalties.
Initially EDO/MBM requested a large “exclusion zone” comprising the whole of Home Farm Industrial Estate. They and Sussex police also wanted to limit demonstrations to two and a half hours, with less than ten people who had to be silent. Judge Gross refused to impose these conditions at the initial hearing. In his summing up he said, “The right to freedom of expression is jealously guarded in English law” and consequently refused to impose the requested limits on size, timing or noise made at demonstrations.
EDO MBM Technologies Ltd are the sole UK subsidiary of huge U.S arms conglomerate EDO Corp, which was recently named No. 10 in the Forbes list of 100 fastest growing companies. They supply bomb release mechanisms to the US and UK armed forces amongst others. They supply crucial components for Raytheon’s Paveway IV guided bomb system, widely used in the “Shock and Awe” campaign in Iraq. EDO also recently withdrew a threatened libel action against Indymedia over being named as “warmongers”.
Lawson-Cruttenden & Co, a solicitors firm working for EDO have been instrumental in developing the Protection of Harassment Act 1997 from a measure designed to safeguard individuals to a corporate charter to make inconvenient protest illegal. They have pioneered to use of injunctions to create large “exclusion zones”. They have secured numerous injunctions against anti-vivisection and anti-GM protestors.
Campaign against EDO MBM, People involved in the anti-EDO campaign include, but are not limited to: local residents, the Brighton Quakers, peace activists, anti-capitalists, Palestine Solidarity groups, human rights groups, trade unionists, academics and students.
The campaign started in August 2004 with a peace camp. It’s avowed aim is to expose EDO MBM and their complicity in war crimes and to remove them from Brighton.