5 people were arrested after singing 'We Are the Champions' at a karaoke themed demo at EDO MBM's Brighton arms factory. The police reacted to the cringe-worthy songs by arresting some demonstrators under noise byelaws and then imposing conditions to prevent the warmongers hearing an encore. Those who didn't move along were nicked, while the sour-faced managing director looked on. | Video
This major police response to a bit of a sing-song follows a successful blockade of the factory last week. All doors into the building were glued shut and two people locked themselves to the front doors with D-locks. This forced the managing director to smash his own window to get in and delayed the manufacture of deadly bomb components, which loses the company both profit and popularity with clients. | Video | Update: 5 Protestors have been charged with 'Conspiracy to cause Criminal Damage', and face a jury trial.
As EDO's profits slide, the campaign against them is building. Campaigners are looking forward to the traditionally lively Haloween demo on the 31st October, when the ghosts of EDO' s victims (and a host of weird and wonderful beings) come to haunt them.
smashEDO protestors have observed that the police are using increasingly repressive measures to deal with the protests, and one compared police behaviour that was common prior to the attempt to injuct protests in 2005. At the hearings, it became apparent that the police had urged EDO MBM to seek the injunction. The case collapsed, costing EDO MBM much money. Since then the company's fortunes have taken a number of knocks. Campaigners have vowed to keep up the pressure until the arm's manufacturer closes the factory.
The campaign to shut down Brighton arms dealers EDO MBM has been incredibly successful at causing economic damage to the Brighton based factory. Because of the campaign's success Sussex police and EDO MBM have tried every tactic possible to put an end to the protests outside the factory including arresting and imprisoning protesters, libel claims, civil injunctions under the Protection from Harrassment Act and the use of public order powers. In March 2006 scores of criminal prosecutions and EDO's high court injunction were dropped as collusion between Sussex Police and EDO MBM became apparent.
Since then Sussex police have been on the back foot, have been shy of prosecuting protesters arrested at EDO MBM and maintaining a smaller police presence at demonstrations.
However policing tactics appear to be becoming ever more repressive as the campaign shows no signs of dying down. Sussex Police have begun to use council byelaws against protesters on a regular basis. In August the police used an 1875 Public Health Act byelaw to confiscate tents during the Smash EDO action camp. More importantly they are invoking a council byelaw relating to noise (designed to be used against drunks singing in the street) to arrest activists who make noise outside the factory. The most recent example of this was the arrest of five people yesterday for singing karaoke.
This is not the first time the police have sought to restrict noise at the factory, the previous civil injunction proceedings sought to prohibit the use of musical instruments (the use of which could have resulted in five years in prison). Current police tactics appear to be acts of desperation, using archaic council byelaws where more obvious tactics have failed, but they are just as much an attack on freedom of expression as earlier attempts to crush the campaign.
Yesterday, at the karaoke demonstration, the police also invoked Section 14 of the Public Order Act, to move protesters from outside the factory to the bottom of Home Farm Road. Section 14 has not been used in relation to EDO protests since 2005 and is another indicator that the police are moving toward another clampdown on the right to protest.
As the repression increases campaigners are vowing to fightback. Noise demonstrations are being held outside EDO MBM, Home Farm Road, from 4 - 6 every Wednesday and a Halloween demonstration has been called.