Brighton arms factory ripped apart in Gaza protest

IssueFebruary 2009
News by Kathy Laluk

Two of the nine activists arrested for “decommissioning” hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of equipment at the EDO/MBM arms manufacturer in Brighton on 17 January were still being held by police at the time of going to press.

The remaining seven are out on bail, but on strict conditions: they are not allowed to return to their homes in Bristol and Brighton until their trial dates, they cannot communicate with one another and they cannot protest at EDO/MBM.

Though only six of the protestors actually entered and damaged the property, the entire group is being charged with burglary after approximately £250,000 worth of military equipment was destroyed. The equipment was allegedly being sent to Israel.

Andrew Beckett, a spokesman for Smash EDO, said his organisation was not involved in the break-in, but the protesters deserve full support from the anti-war community.

“It’s inevitable they’re going to get charged, they undoubtedly knew that when they did it,” he said. “But I don’t think they should be convicted.”

Beckett also added that the group’s actions occurred mere hours after a motion was put before the city council in Brighton that would condemn an arms factory there. The motion was denied, but Beckett said he did not believe it provoked the EDO/MBM break-in.

The protest is reminiscent of the break-in at arms manufacturer Raytheon in Derry, Northern Ireland in protest at the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006.

The Raytheon Nine, who were acquitted last June (see PN 2499-500), urged police to investigate the manufacturer and on 7 January, police agreed to look into the matter.