Local organising: East London Against the Arms Fair

IssueSeptember 2005
Feature by Tim Wardle

One group has been working with the local community to raise awareness about the arms fair and to keep up the pressure on the organisers.

East London Against the Arms Fair (ELAAF) is a group of people who live in London's Docklands area and have protested against the arms fair since it was first held in the area. One of our aims is to inform local people about what is happening on their doorstep and to encourage their support.

Raising Awareness

To this end we have been leafleting door to door in the area around the ExCeL centre (venue of the arms fair) and have had musical protests outside the ExCeL Exhibition Centre itself. This has drawn the attention of people attending exhibitions and of local people who use this area as a thoroughfare. We have used these occasions to leaflet and talk to these people, and have encouraged them to sign a petition, which we have given to Lord Tom King (ex defence minister and chair of Excel) and to Ken Livingstone, (Mayor of London).

Community cooperation

We have co-operated with a local community school whose students have made a film about the arms fair. Starting from a neutral standpoint the whole school is now convinced that the arms fair should be opposed. We have attended local Community Forums which have helped get the people of the area on our side. We have also worked together with a Newham Councillor, who has successfully put a motion before Council condemning the arms fair. This has also resulted in getting the council to use the term "arms fair", as opposed to the euphemistic "Defence Systems International exhibition". We will continue to work to get arms fairs stopped.