On Tuesday 21st April Naomi Loomes published an article entitled 'Police Fears Over May Day EDO Protest'. She quoted Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett as saying “the EDO group... seem unwilling to engage with us”. Sussex police are urging 'organisers' to contact Brighton police station. Councillor Paul Elgood is quoted as saying “Smash EDO and the police have had a poor relationship in the past but I think they need to get round the table...”
So why is it that organisers have not come forward to talk to police? In the face of current events it seems like the question is hardly worth asking. On April 1st, at protests against the G20 where Sussex police were present, protesters were pepper sprayed, bludgeoned with batons, punched and, in the case of Ian Tomlinson, possibly murdered by police officers. This is how the police respond to the public voicing their dissent in the UK and this is how they have repeatedly acted in Brighton. At the 'Carnival Against the Arms Trade' in June 2008 protesters
were attacked with batons and peppers spray and savaged by police dogs. Over twenty people received hospital treatment and several people suffered broken bones. At the 'Shut ITT' demonstration in October hundreds of police forces, from several counties, occupied the city for the day, hospitalising scores of people, including an NUJ registered journalist.
Graeme Bartlett implies that the situation would be different if police were 'notified'. Organisers of the Climate Camp in the City of London on April 1st did have dialogue with the police before April 1st. A
spokesperson for Climate Camp said: "Climate Camp held a meeting with senior police officers before April 1st. However, this did not stop police officers in riot gear viciously attacking peaceful camp participants”. Furthermore, it is not unlawful for a demonstration to take place without notification, articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act (HRA) guarantee the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. In asking us to notify them the police are asking us to give up these rights. In a climate where our civil liberties are being rapidly eroded why should we grant more rights to the police in order for them to control us? Sussex Police have a well documented history of unlawful and disproportionate violence against protesters in Brighton.
Both councillors and the police have expressed concern over how Brighton's image will be effected by this protest. Perhaps Brighton council should consider what the crowds of Bank Holiday tourists would think, were they informed that this city harbours an arms company whose history is entwined with a century of fascist dictatorship. The council should be proud that this community takes a stand against those who profit from the suffering of people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine?
The Argus describes the event as a “secret”. On the contrary, it has been widely advertised both locally and nationally and aims to be as inclusive as possible. Any Bank holiday tourist is invited to spend their day off joining the street party in remembrance of all the people whose lives have been destroyed as a result of EDO MBM/ITT's business.
For More info contact Chloe Marsh or Andrew Beckett on 07754135290