The company allege that they are the victims of a campaign of intimidation by the activists. They are trying to apply anti-stalking legislation to the anti-militarism protests in order to stifle free speech and the right to assembly outside their factory 2. Although the injunction is a civil injunction, breaking the injunction would result in criminal convictions. The police have only been able to prosecute protesters for relatively minor public offences up until now, and they hope that with this injunction they will be able to silence the protesters. The law firm representing EDO are Lawson-Cruttenden who represented Huntington Life Sciences in their attempts to obtain injunctions against animal rights activists (HLS). This law firm have pioneered the use of the Protection of Harassment Act 1997 from a measure designed to safeguard private citizens to a corporate charter used against inconvenient protesters. Once exclusion zones are in place they call on the police to enforce the orders. The orders ban “artificial or musical noise or using anything to amplify sound or using loudhailers”. The orders also ban the photography or videotaping of the EDO factory. The order bans the named individuals but perhaps more worryingly by association bans any individuals from gathering within the half mile exclusion zone, which includes a university. Protests would only be “allowed” for two and a half hours on Thursday afternoons, but with significant caveats; such as only ten protesters being allowed to gather.
EDO manufactures weapons carriage and release equipment, and has contracts to supply components to the RAF's Paveway bombs, scanning motors and drive electronics for the EuroFighters PIRATE (Passive Infra-Red Airborne Track Equipment – no we didn't make it up) system, and its US counterpart provides components for the US Air Force (3). The company has donated to both political parties in the USA, presumably lobbying for peace through superior firepower. The Paveway series bombs, according to Raytheon, accounted for over half of all bombs dropped on Iraq since the invasion. Therefore, these bombs have been involved in the murder of the 98,000 innocent civilians killed where the “primary cause” of violent death was “coalition air-strikes”(4). This review states that most innocent civilians killed where women and children, not men of military age as the coalition press officers state. Estimates on the death toll vary, but as Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch notes it will not be possible “to come up with anything better than a good guess at the final civilian cost”. What is clear is that coalition forces have used materials supplied by EDO technologies to murder civilians in an illegal war in Iraq, and as such the company is responsible. These figures also have no way measure the indirect effects of the bombing campaign on infant mortality and other forms of preventable death, resulting from inadequate access to clean water for example.
“We felt that after the blatant illegality of the war in Iraq that it was time that discontent over the way that the arms trade fuels conflict around the world was brought back to the factory floor” - Smash EDO leaflet. The campaigners believe that this company should not be allowed to operate in Brighton “as Brighton and Hove is a UN Peace Messenger City. The mission statement of the UN Peace Caucus supports 'reduction of military spending and production', yet companies like EDO MBM need increased military spending to continue to generate profits for their shareholders. How can the progressive ideals of the Peace Caucus which Brighton and Hove City Council are supposed to be promoting be reconciled with the presence of an arms company doing business in our city?” (5).
The protests have been going on for some time (6, 7, 8, 9) and have involved a variety of methods of protesting the EDO factory from roof top occupations(10) to silent vigils (11), phone blockades (12) and even letter writing (13). The protesters come from a variety of backgrounds, reflected in the diversity of protests. The protesters marked the international day of action against the arms trade by inspecting the arms manufacturers site on March 21st of this year – (14).