Anti-militarist activists entered the ITT/EDO MBM arms factory in Moulescombe, Brighton in the early hours of this morning, where they are believed to have caused extensive damage to the offices, and to equipment used to make arms, including the 'zero retention force arming units' and 'ejector release unit 151' which the Smash EDO/ITT campaign says are supplied to the Israeli Air Force. The campaign became aware of the action when they received a phone call from those inside the factory this morning who said that they were 'decommissioning' the factory in solidarity with the people of Gaza, who are currently at the receiving end of the factories products.
The arms factory has been targetted by the Smash EDO Campaign for a number of years. In 2005 EDO MBM took High Court action in an attempt to curtail protest at the factory. They lost the action, which proved to be an expensive own-goal as it gave the campaign increased exposure, and brought it to national attention. In 2008 the factory was taken over by ITT.
Weekly protests have been held outside the factory since 2004, and there have been a number of national demos, at the factory and on the streets of Brighton. On October 15th, the SHUT ITT Demo succeeded in shutting the factory for the day.
According to reports in the national media, todays action may have the effect of shutting down the factory for some time. The BBC quotes Det Ch Insp Graham Pratt as saying: "Windows had been smashed and offices turned over in what I would describe as wanton vandalism, but with machinery and equipment so targeted that it could have been done with a view of bringing business to a standstill....The damage is significant and the value substantial."
Prior to entering the factory, the activists made a video (attached) in which they explained their reasons for the action. One commented: "Israel are committing a gross crime now in Gaza. Israel have killed hundreds of children. I think its absolutely disgusting that weapons made in our cities and in our country are being used to kill innocent women and children. They have been used indiscriminately. If the law and the police cant do anything about it its about time somebody else did."
About 30 police are believed to have attended the factory, where they witnessed computers and office equipment being thrown out of first floor windows. Nine people are believed to have been arrested and taken to the Hollingbury and Worthing Police Stations, where police say they are being held on 'suspicion of burglary'. One protestor is believed to have required hospital treatment.