- June 4, 2012
Between 80 and 200 protesters took part in a Smash EDO demo in Brighton and Hove today (Monday 4 June).
The protesters gathered outside Barclays bank in North Street, Brighton, between noon and 12.30pm before marching to Hove Town Hall.
Smash EDO said that the meeting place was chosen because “Barclays is a service provider to ITT Exelis, EDO MBM’s parent company, and is the largest global investor in the arms trade”.
The EDO MBM factory, in Moulsecoomb, has been the target of several protests over the past eight years.
The aim of today’s march, though, was to protest against the threat of war against Iran.
Smash EDO said: “Sussex Police attempted to use police liaison officers to infiltrate the march and gather information about protesters.
“However, participants in the march took direct action to kick liaison officers off the demo and keep the demonstration police free.”
Chloe Marsh, of Smash EDO, said: “Hundreds of Brightonians turned out to protest against the threat of a new imperialist war in Iran.
“Those who took part in the protest also effectively prevented police liaison teams from maintaining a presence on the protest.”
Sussex Police said: “Police officers – including a new protest liaison team and others on horses and motorbikes for visibility – escorted the march to ensure the safety of those involved and others in the city, closing roads temporarily as it passed through.
“There were no significant incidents and no arrests.
“With smaller numbers on the march than anticipated and no further activity after the speeches, police were able to reduce resources regularly over the course of the day and stand down all officers earlier than expected at 3pm.”
Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett, the police divisional commander for Brighton and Hove, said: “This is the first time this group had shared their plans in an open letter to the media and I’m pleased to say it went as outlined.
“Police have an important role to help facilitate those who exercise their right to free speech in a peaceful way and we did that today.
“Today was only the second time we have used a new style of protest liaison officers, sharing information with those taking part to understand how their plans adapt so we can police proportionately and to explain any police action taking place.
“While those involved in today’s event chose not to speak directly with us in advance, most on the march today were happy to talk to liaison officers.
“I hope this continues so that we can speak with organisers of future events like this, which helps us plan effective and proportionate policing.
“We recognise we still have a way to go to build trust with some people, but feel today’s peaceful protest and the willingness of most people to speak with our liaison team bodes well for the future.”
Smash EDO said that it was in the middle of a three-month Summer of Resistance campaign against the factory.
It is planning “a mass citizen’s weapons inspection of the EDO factory” on Monday 16 July and added: “The campaign will continue until the EDO factory closes down.”