Anti-capitalist activists are plotting a major new demonstration in Brighton which could lead to clashes with police similar to those witnessed during the G20 summit.
By Patrick Sawer
Last Updated: 1:42PM BST 25 Apr 2009
Protesters have drawn up a hit list of dozens of banks and companies in Brighton which they intend to target as part of an anti-arms trade protest.
Thousands of protesters are planning to converge on the city on May Bank Holiday, for what they describe as a "mass street party against war, greed and militarism".
The May 4 protest is the first major anti-capitalist demonstration since the death of Ian Tomlinson, a newspaper vendor who was struck and pushed to the ground by riot officers as he walked home through the City of London during the G20 demonstrations.
Human rights groups fear that Sussex Police will repeat the controversial 'kettling' tactics used by the Metropolitan and City of London police during the G20 protests, which involved demonstrators being herded together and surrounded by uniformed officers.
The tactics have since been blamed by campaigners and politicians for inflaming tension and leading to violent scenes and have prompted the Commons Home Affairs Committee to launch a parliamentary inquiry into the policing of demonstrations.
The Brighton protest was originally called as part of an ongoing campaign against EDO MBM/ITT, an arms manufacturer with premises in Brighton, which campaigners say produces weapons systems used in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan.
But since the G20 events of April 1 and 2 increasing numbers of anarchist and anti-capitalist groups from around Britain have been planning to widen the scope of the demonstration.
Transport to Brighton is already being organised from a number of cities, including Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Hereford and Sheffield.
Among the list of premises on the map published by Smash Edo, the group behind the protest, are branches of HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB.
It also pinpoints the addresses of businesses campaigners say have invested in ITT, such as McDonalds and American Express, or act as contractors and suppliers for the firm, including DHL Express and armour plating manufacturer London & Brighton Plating Company.
Their location is printed on a leaflet being distributed to activists, which declares: "The weapons [EDO] manufacture couldn't be produced without the support of other corporations; investors, business partners and companies providing services to them. This map plots the network of companies complicit in ITT's crimes in Brighton."
Smash Edo's website urges supporters: "Come dance, fight and remember the victims of ITT... we want this to be the biggest show of force yet against EDO."
Among those expected to take part is former Page Three girl turned Liberal Democrat councillor Marina Pepper, who gained national prominence for her part in organising the G20 protests.
Nicola Fisher, the young woman seen in video footage of the G20 protests being slapped in the face by a police officer who then beat her legs with his baton, is also expected to attend the Brighton protests.
The day of action is set to begin with hundreds of cyclists from the Critical Mass movement staging a slow parade outside Brighton rail station, blocking traffic.
A street party will then be staged in the city centre, with protesters being asked to bring stereos and radios so we can make our own music."
But the precise details of the protest and of any route it takes through the town are being kept secret, with details only being released at the last minute in a bid to outwit police.
Smash Edo accuse Sussex police of using oppressive tactics against protesters in the past. Spokesman Andrew Beckett said: "They have set dogs on us, used truncheons on us and kettled us.
"The only violence has come when the police have attacked us. We expect they will use the same tactics against us on May 4th."
Liberty, the civil liberties watchdog, has urged Sussex Police to adopt a more conciliatory approach to handling the protests.
A spokesman said: "When the police anticipate violence, turn up in riot gear and adopt tactics such as kettling it tends to create a violent response."
Sussex Police refused to discuss details of their plans for maintaining order during the Brighton protests, but they have warned organisers they will not allow the city to suffer the kind of disruption to normal life witnessed during the G20 protests.
Chief Supt Cliff Parrott – who will be in charge of the operation – said: "We are not expecting the event to be confrontational, however we are keen to speak with the organisers of the protest to discuss their intentions and how it can take place effectively while minimising disruption to the city. This is a key factor in ensuring that we provide an appropriate level of policing."