Actions against this year's 6th biennial DSEi Arms Fair at the ExCel Centre in London's Docklands kicked off last week in the run up to the event. This week's resistance began with a candlelit vigil on Monday night followed by a day of action of Tuesday, dawning to reveal a subvertised billboard as well as a huge 'Destroy DSEi' banner hung between cranes. A critical mass of cyclists was out and about all day with explosive sounds and various groups blockaded entrances to the arms fair and death dealing companies such as Aerospace Defence & Security Group. There were die-ins all over the place, including outside the BAe Systems building and at the National Gallery, where the official arms fair reception was held on Tuesday evening, guests being greeted with chants of "Scum!"
Actions in Westminster during the day included a CAAT 'supermarket shopping' event and a Christian demonstration against drones with street theatre. This later moved on to General Atomics, which makes the British Reaper drone. A priest from Bradford was allowed to reach the main DSEi entrance after announcing that he'd come to perform the official exorcism. Many other actions and visual events took place in and around Docklands. FIT were all over the place, some thinly disguised as ordinary cops, with FITwatchers keeping a close eye on them. Two arrests were reported during the day, one for spray painting anti- arms fair slogans and one for fence climbing. Several more arrests were reported outside the National Gallery in the evening. [More]
On Wednesday, around 15 people marched from central London to the Excel centre. Despite a blanket 30-day ban on marches still in place in the City of London and the borough of Tower Hamlets, there was no police harassment.
See full timeline here.
Other Reports and Videos:
Wednesday's march | Bubbles Not Bombs | Protestors ejected from National Gallery | YouTube: Critical Mass | YouTube: Drones protest | Towards an 'ethical' Arms Trade? | Cluster Bombs | Torture Equipment
09:00 Critical Mass prepares to set off from Bank
12/09 Vigil outside Excel 7-8pm
The EADS stall inside the Arms Fair http://www.eads.com/
10:26 Arrested for criminal damage (again!)
On the Case
FIT team at Custom House DLR
Subvertised billboard near DSEi
CAAT action in Westmister
Critical Mass en route
Into the belly of the beast
CAAT 'shopping' protest
Meanwhile back at DSEi a brimstone missile
13:25 Critical Mass at the West Entrance of Excel
13:45 West entrance to DSEi - 'move or be moved'
Blocking the West Entrance
14:47 Police re-open west enrance to Excel
A message for Clarion http://bit.ly/pn0I4o
15:55 'Stop the drones' outside General Atomics makers of the reaper drone
TX175 + HT207 stalkers disguised as pigs.
Good for dropping cluster bombs on kids?
17:15 At the BAE die-in
Also at BAE PC Palfrey - witness to Ian Tomlinson's killing
17:32 BAE Die-in
BBC reporter tries on suit (for the next riots perhaps?)
18:32 Bootboys for the Arms Trade. Clearing steps at NG
National Gallery loves arms dealers
Advert at Custom House DLR stop for ExCel London
Week of Action at the Arms Fair
Actions against DSEi kicked off on Monday night with a candlelit vigil outside the ExCel Centre. Around 100 people attended with one activist, Chris Cole, detained for criminal damage. He was later released and given his spray can back.
During the day on Monday, The Met applied to the Home Secretary for consent to lift a blanket ban on protest marches in four East London boroughs to allow Wednesday's march against the world’s largest arms fair to go ahead, following a threat to bring legal proceedings challenging the lawfulness of the ban. The decision to vary the ban came one minute before a deadline given by the applicant's lawyers. The ban has now been lifted in all boroughs except Tower Hamlets.
At dawn on Tuesday activists climbed two cranes opposite the Excel Centre and dropped a 12 metre "Destroy DSEi" banner
30+ Critical mass cyclists set off from Bank at 9am along with flags and sound systems. At 10.30 they were reported to be at Custom House broadcasting loud soundtracks of warfare with huge explosions.
Protesters holding a banner at Custom House Station were confronted by the cops and moved to an 'offical protest site' at Prince Regent Station. One arrest was reported. There is a heavy police presence reported on the Docklands Light Railway, although a later report said that protests on the DLR had been 'very easy'.
An Anglican priest from Bradford reported that he had been allowed through to the main entrance of DSEi by saying that he was attending to perform the official exorcism! Security then ejected him.
After lunch Critical Mass and a group of activists moved to the west entrance of the Excel Centre, where they staged a die-in after blocking the entrance. As they were moved on by police, another larger group moved in and staged a sit-in and street dance. Altogether the gate was blocked for about 90 minutes.
Meanwhile outside parliament CAAT and a group of about 200 made some visual statements, and sang along with Sparkles Not Shrapnel, before lobbying their MPs.
A group staged a protest against drones at Westminster and then moved to General Atomics, maker of the Reaper drones (which have recently been used by the RAF to kill civilians in Afghanistan) to perform their 'remote controlled killer robots' street theatre. At about the same time Manchester Against Militarism and friends visited Aerospace Defence & Security Group HQ, causing staff to have to use alternative exits.
FIT and FITwatch meanwhile swapped roles as FIT watched their watchers drink beer in a pub in Whitechapel. Just like the old days! Anxious not to be parted, FIT later followed FITwatchers on the tube to Embankment.
Chris Cole of Drone Wars UK, who was arrested and released Monday night (see above), was back at DSEi today with his spray can. He was arrested at Custom House for spraying 'Stop the Arms Trade' and 'DSEi Kills', has been charged with criminal damage and bailed with a court date of 12 Oct.
At the BAe building at around 5pm, protesters unfurled a huge banner: 'JOBS FOR LIFE NOT DEATH' and a smaller one: 'BAE: FANNING THE FLAMES OF WAR'. The area immediately in front of the building was completely taken over by the die-in. Early reports suggested 65 people there, with numbers later on as high as 150. FIT cops in attendance here too including Alan Palfrey, who stood by and watched as Ian Tomlinson died.
The DSEi evening reception was held at the National Gallery, a fact helpfully advertised by activists with a die-in outside and a long banner put up across the front of the building: "NATIONAL GALLERY LOVES ARMS DEALERS". Those arriving for the event entered the building to chants of "Scum" while eight cops were employed to get Geoff Hoon past the protesters to drink with the Merchants of Death. Some activists made it into the building to continue the protests inside.
Wednesday's march to the Excel centre went ahead as planned. No action was taken as it proceeded through Tower Hamlets and City of London where the ban was thought to still be in place. The march set off from the (former) home of UK Trade and Investment, whose 'Defence and Security Organisation' (DSO) is responsible for promoting arms exports on behalf of the arms industry, passing by UKTI DSO's new home, at the Department for Business on the way to Parliament Square. Several groups took part in the march, which took around 5 hours. Hundreds of leaflets about the arms fair were given out along the way.