Anti-war action

1 December 2009News

On 14 November, a small but perfectly formed march against NATO and for withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan took place in Edinburgh. The demo was called by Stop the War Scotland.

In keeping with the tradition of most Edinburgh protests, only five men and their dog were present at the official start time of the march. However, after going to fetch myself a coffee, about 300 had appeared.

Numbers were diminished due to an anti-fascist counter-protest against the…

1 December 2009News

On 12 November, four of us who “locked-on” across a gate at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston, during the Big Blockade on 27 October last year were cleared by Reading court of obstructing the highway and awarded costs.

We were: Jean Oliver from Scotland, Emma Sangster and myself from London, who defended ourselves; and Renate Zauner from Switzerland, represented by professor Nick Grief.

The “not guilty” verdict was on a technicality – the prosecution…

1 December 2009News

On 5 November, six of us – Katrina Alton and Steve Barnes of the London Catholic Worker, PN columnist Maya Evans, PN co-editor Milan Rai, Trident Ploughshares co-founder Angie Zelter, and myself – were found guilty of causing “serious disruption to the community” for our role in the “Die-in for NATO’s Victims in Afghanistan” at Britain’s military nerve centre at Northwood earlier this year.

During the trial in Watford, chief inspector Dempsey-Brench conceded that he had not…

1 December 2009News

One person’s experience of the NATO parliamentary summit

According to the NATO Welcoming Committee’s website, at 10.30am on 13 November, text message alerts would be sent out disclosing a “secret” meeting place, from which we would march towards the NATO parliamentary assembly in Edinburgh.

By 10.45am, I’d made it to Edinburgh’s Forest Café, which was providing the convergence space for the event. These “closed” meeting tactics – the pre-planned action, text message alerts and a small hive of activity directing the bigger picture –…

16 November 2009Feature

Brimar – a Manchester-based weapons manufacturer – is the latest armaments firm to feel the heat from campaigners. 17 October saw the launch of a new campaign “Target Brimar” with a colourful procession and Critical Mass bike ride to the company’s factory in Chadderton, where there were speeches, music, food and a children’s playspace.

Two of the EDO “decommissioners” – on bail for damaging equipment at the Brighton EDO weapons factory last January, during the Israeli attack on Gaza…

1 November 2009News

Five anti-nuclear activists who peacefully blocked access to the atomic weapons establishment (AWE) Aldermaston last autumn were tried before Reading magistrates’ court on 21 and 22 October.

The defendants, Barbara Dowling, from Glasgow; Jean Oliver, from Lanarkshire; David Polden, from London; Emma Sangster, also from London (all self-represented); and Renate Zauner from Switzerland (represented by Prof. Nicholas Grief) were charged with “wilfully obstructing the highway”.

1 November 2009News

Afghan anniversary actions

This year’s G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, drew worldwide attention to radical politics. As in previous years, the streets were saturated with police as well as protesters. This year, however, both radical actors and police brought a new series of high-tech approaches to the summit. In addition to the now familiar truncheons, tear gas, and rubber bullets, police for the first time used the long range acoustic device, or LRAD. This “sound cannon” emits loud and high-pitched noises at…

1 November 2009News

Afghan anniversary actions

Waves of anti-war protests hit major and minor cities across the US throughout October. About 180 demonstrators marched to the White House on 5 October, carrying signs like: “Yes we can: US out of Afghanistan.”

After 15 activists chained themselves to the fence, police officers and secret service agents began clearing the sidewalk and yelling warnings. Some 61 people were arrested. The organisers from 27 states wished this pre-protest to inspire others for the 7 October…

1 July 2009News

In May and June, five people were up on charges arising from the April 2008 “Carnival Against the Arms Trade” at the EDO-MBM arms factory in Brighton. At the carnival, 800 people marched through police cordons into the factory car park and smashed windows and the managing director’s car.

Four people were found guilty by Brighton magistrates of aggravated trespass for entering the premises, though the case for this was flimsy: no business was going on as the factory was shut, and…

1 July 2009News

On 15 June, Trident Ploughshares activists working with Bikes Block Bombs, Scrap Cars–Scrap Trident, Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp (AWPC) and Eastern Region CND blockaded four gates at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston, protesting at the building of new nuclear weapons facilities and the lack of democratic accountability.

The surprise blockades caused massive road blockages, preventing construction vehicles from entering Aldermaston. Activists were locked onto concrete…

1 July 2009Review

Luath Press Limited, 2008; ISBN 978 1 906307 61 5; 278pp; £12.99 RRP

This amazing book is a political treatise, personal journal, lively commentary, an invaluable history and a guidebook to sustained activism, all in one volume. This is a work to be read and consulted for many years.

In 2005 activist Angie Zelter and her friends contemplated the weakening of the peace movement and its lack of energy. Instead of moaning and hand-wringing they created an ambitious plan to galvanise British activists. They came up with the idea to blockade Faslane in…

1 June 2009Feature

At the beginning of April, as London preoccupied itself with the G20, and the Met was busy batoning and shoving over peaceful protestors and newspaper vendors, I travelled to Strasbourg, France, with nine other peace activists who had chosen instead to join NATO’s sixtieth birthday celebrations. Our ad hoc affinity group, “Odd Socks”, consisted of eight Brits (one Anglo-French), a German woman and two Belgian lads.

Five of us were members of the anti-nuclear nonviolent direct…

1 May 2009Feature

On 9 April, 14 peace and social justice activists were arrested at Creech US Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, in what is believed to be the first act of mass nonviolent civil disobedience against the military use of pilotless drones. “Predator” and “Reaper” drones have reportedly killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan (see Gabriel Carlyle’s analysis on p2 for more details).

The Creech 14, including Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly, were arrested…

3 March 2009News

Between 8-11 September the ExCeL Centre in London’s Docklands hosted the Defence Services Equipment International exhibition (DSEi), the world’s largest arms fair.

The day before the arms fair proper began, a connected “UK Defence Conference” was held at the QEII conference centre in Westminster. Before this started, Christian peace activist Chris Cole sprayed “Build Peace, not War Machines” across the doors and “arms trade = death” on the steps. Chris, director of the Fellowship…

3 March 2009Comment

We arrived at noon at Stratford train station, the meeting point for the Silver Group taking part in the London Climate Camp “swoop”. I immediately felt on edge as two police officers with dogs passed us on the opposite escalator. Four of us formed an affinity group as we walked out of the station to meet around 50 other swoopers, some journalists and a surprisingly sparse number of police.

We mused on the possible top-secret site of this year’s Climate Camp. On the train we had…