Obstructing the war machine at Derby

IssueNovember 2005
News by Emma, Zina Zelter

The shiny image of Rolls Royce was been somewhat tarnished at the end of October, after a group of determined protesters from across the country spent three days getting under the skin of the company and exposing to the residents of Derby the dirty underbelly of the engine that powers Britain's illegal Trident submarines.

Over the course of the action, protesters leafleted the town, held a public meeting, a silent vigil and a blockade and demonstration to make sure that the good people of Derby and the wider world learnt that Rolls Royce provides the nuclear propulsion plants that keep the Trident submarine fleet afloat.

Engaging in debate

We started on the afternoon of Saturday 22 October, a legion of leafleters and a lone Scottish clown, cheered by the willingness of the local community to stop and talk. They didn't all agree with us but were at least interested enough to engage in debate, a debate that continued that evening at the public meeting. Though this was, admittedly, attended by considerably more protesters than public.

Sunday began with a useful media workshop which encouraged participants, who are sometimes rightly wary of technology, to enter into the digital world and learn to spin the media in the direction we want. This was followed by a vigil hour of quiet contemplation next to the busy dual carriageway at Rolls Royce Raynesway on grounds that it would be closed to us the next day.

Heavy policing

The blockade, on Monday 24 October, began dreadfully early in drenching rain. Luckily, due to the presence of 20 van-loads of police, it didn't last long. Those fortunate enough to be arrested were able to retire to the relative comfort of the cells.

The outcome of the contest was 10 arrests, four snail-paced stop and searches, and a lot of drenched and committed protesters who dutifully remained until 11am, when a section 14 notice - imposed by Derbyshire police - rendered our peaceful protest illegal.

In spite of the rain, we had ample press coverage and onsite interviews. A jolly successful time was had by all...and we'll be back!