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DSEI - have we done it the wrong way?

strategist | 08.09.2003 23:14 | DSEi 2003 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Social Struggles | London | World

I'm thinking we should have done all the serious blockading during the setting up process not after all the traders and weapons are already safely inside.

Inside here you can buy anything from a bullet -
Inside here you can buy anything from a bullet -

to a battleship
to a battleship

I sneaked a look at the Excel centre from the other side of the dock this evening and even at 7pm the area was still swarming with pigs. One of them in an inflatable boat in the water clocked me from the far side of the dock almost as soon as I took the camera out of my pocket and I had to cycle away slowly in a non-dodgy manner, pretending to be just an interested local on a bike.

Seeing the huge hotel right next door to the Excel complex made me realise that all the bloody exhibitors are already tucked up there safe and sound for the duration probably having finished neatly laying out their bloody wares on the stands ready for the bloody punters who are probably also staying in the same hotel. So in fact there are likely to be very few people or goods entering the sealed off complex on Tues and Weds and the effect therefore of protests and blockades on the outside may well be negligible especially considering the insane level of policing. Next time - and yes there will be more of these vile events for years to come - we really need to concentrate on blockading the setting up process for the whole of the week before. There being only a few roads leading to the centre makes it easy for the cops to keep us out but in the same way it should have made it easy for us to keep the exhibitors vehicles out if we'd been more pro-active last week. Consider how relatively easy it is to block the path of large vans, artics and low-loaders carrying tanks and artillery etc. Being so cumbersome, they can't just nip up and over the pavement like people can. Setting up exhibitions as large as this involves the exhibitors working very long and stressful days and having all their deadly toys held up in a traffic jam outside would send their stress levels through the roof and having had to work longer and harder than anticipated they'd therefore be less able to slime their way into the pockets of all the perusing dictators etc.

I know this is all very well for me to be be coming out with criticism the evening before the main protest kicks off but in future we really need to be thinking about how to make anti-arms trade actions effective rather than purely symbolic which is all that yet another street party is likely to be. What do others think of this as a strategy for the future?



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pay attention

09.09.2003 07:23

people blockaded the excel last week. water borne actions have taken place over the weekend. and many actions have taken place around the country. what more do you fucking expect.
also, with 20,000 plus exhibitors and delegates, not counting security etc, those two hotels fall well short of being able to accomodate everyone involved. a list of 24 hotel can be found at .

nobody in particular

Only 40 people blockaded the exhibition!

09.09.2003 09:10

Only 40 people blockaded the exhibition which is fuck all. Where we went wrong though was in not advertising the actions well enough! We should have amde sure that it was anounced on every website message board in Europe and printed and distributed millions of leaflets advertising the actions. We need at least 30,000 people at Excel today and tommorrow is we are to have any hope at all of shutting down the exhibition. I'm am afraid though that we will only get around 4000 people at the most due to poor advertising of this event.


Small affinity group actions vs mass public 'actions'

09.09.2003 09:37

The 40 people that blocked excel last monday caused major distruption for over two hours and maintained a significant anoyance for over 6 hours. It worked BECAUSE it was a small and unpublicised action planned in private. It would NOT have worked if it had been widely and openly publicised.

The 30 people involved in the water on saturday, prevented two naval vesels from entering the docks as planned. It worked (bearly) because they invested loads of time and energy in research, obversation and training. It would NOT have worked, or have been safe, if it had been an open invitation.

It is individual groups responsibility to think about what will be effective and take initiative. It can not be planned and organised for people. Tuesday and Wednesday is NOT and has NOT been the key to disrupting the arms fare, that much is obvious. It may yet turn into an amazing victory, who knows, but all the affinity groups that have been doing stuff during the last week or two have done so knowing that to be effective you need either numbers or suprise.


september 11th

09.09.2003 10:22

with this conferance coniciding with the aniversary of september 11th, do you really think that your'e going to be able to do anything siginificant. All police leave has been cancelled, the place is swarming with military, there is no way anything more than a bit of pointless flag waving or point making is going to happen.


publicising actions

09.09.2003 11:21

I know what you mean about the police finding out about publicised actions, but to be honest they've got a good chance of finding out anyway, AND a lot of the time I feel like people are so worried that the police will find out what we're doing that the people who want to take part can't find out what we're doing and how to be effective either!

After everything that's happened since the last DSEi fair, a lot of people were really pissed off about it happening and would have wanted to try to make it difficult for the arms traders. Maybe we could've had a campaign to involve people who worked in the centre or were involved in setting it up to refuse to work towards the exhibition taking place...? Then we could have stopped them getting set up and barricaded in... ?



09.09.2003 12:12

There's always a bit of a conflict between security and numbers, but it's pretty easy to get around, actually. Sure, you can only have a certain amount of people in each
affinity group...people who you trust...but that doesn;t mean that there can only be
one affinity group doing these actions! I'm afraid that its a fact that to be really
effective at events like this you either have to have hundreds of thousands of people
or need to have done a lot of preparation in a tight affinity group. We shouldn't
be surprised that this is the case...after all, the police _are_ trying to stop us. It's
going to take a bit of effort and planning, or sheer force of numbers.

We ain't got the sheer force of numbers at the moment for events like get
into affinity groups with people in your area, and get planning. There's absolutely
NOTHING to stop you doing your own AG actions.


Matt S

Block them in!

09.09.2003 22:48

Maybe we could block them inside the Excel centre, lay them to siege and prevent them from taking all those offensive weapons home ;)


Use both

10.09.2003 13:59

Advertise the large mass protest, with careful planning it can be used as decoy soaking up police resources, then even a small affinity group can mount a surprise offensive in an alternate location blocking it before the cops can intervine.


more forethought a good idea

11.09.2003 14:46

It seems to me to be a good idea to think about before and around the event and the site, although attention at the event is needed, shutting it down is also needed. There may be less obvious, non-violent ways of disrupting things, lateral thinking.The longer the disruption goes on, the more people get a chance to hear about it and come along and join. I'd be interested to hear more. julia

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communicating and planning

11.09.2003 15:03

Knowing something about where to go next would have helped on the day, especially after getting split up so often. More actions over a longer period of time would allow for more people to come along and join in. The police were abit of a brick wall, could do with some tunneling and lateral thinking perhaps. tadpole

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