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Second Day of Action: Arms?- No Way! Shut down DSEi!

IMC UK | 10.09.2003 10:02 | DSEi 2003 | Anti-militarism | Globalisation | Repression | Technology | London

The second main day of protest against the Defence Systems & Equipment International (DSEi) took place at London’s Docklands on Wednesday 10th September. Activists, anti-arms organisations, students and the public, angry, both about the items on sale, the well-known human rights abusing countries invited, and the devastation caused by weapons and munitions, attempted to "Shut DSEI by any means possible". This was the day that bargaining at the DSEi arms fair began in earnest and general press were prohibited from entering (see pics from inside: 1|2|3|4).

"Whose streets? Our streets!"

Early in the morning the Dockland Light Railway (DLR) was stopped in the first of several actions (see reports: [1] [2] and pics: [1] [2] [3]) with activists D-locking themselves onto the train at various stations or climbing onto the roof (see video). This disrupted the DLR for much of the day. Also on the DLR, activists engaged in "train theatre" posing as arms dealers (report and pics). On their way to the Excel centre they announced they had arms for sale two opened their cases revealing various sets of arms (prosthetic and dolls arms) they had to sell.

At Custom House DLR (pic others went to a "Meet the Delegates" action. From eight in the morning a Critical Mass left from the City of London to the Docklands (pics: [1] [2] and video. On their way to the Excel around a hundred cyclists blocked traffic while comedian Mark Thomas entertained the crowds. Just after nine the Palestine support group, International Solidarity movement (ISM) visited the Israeli arms company Rafael in an attempted office occupation, later unfurling banners outside.

At eleven o'clock the two meeting points of "Storm the Death Fair" at Connaught Bridge underpass and "Blockade the Death Fair" at Canning Town roundabout allowed affinity groups to converge to form mobile groups forming and splitting as they engaged in their various actions. At Canning Town the group was prevented from moving by police but soon shoved their way through and moved off down Silvertown and along Victoria Dock road.

At Connaught Bridge a car partially blocked the ExCel approach road in a D-lock action (pics) while groups moved in a variety of directions, many up to Connaught roundabout and some down to the underpass (pics: [1] [2] [3]), blockading the traffic for several hours. Groups remained mobile; some pushing through police lines as other roads nearby were temporarily occupied or blockaded.

As pink and silver Samba drummed their way along Victoria Dock rd (pics), blocking the road with crash barriers, clashes occurred as police pushed the crowd against the railings of a recreation park. Samba managed to move off up Freemasons Road joined by Sheffield samba band and preceded to block the A13 main road (pics). There were scuffles and arrests as police chased the crowd in different directions.

Meanwhile at the ExCel centre six activists infiltrated DSEi, occupying two tanks, daubing them in ‘Stop Death’ banners and locking on, before being removed by security (see press release, pics and video). Some delegates are forced to walk to DSEi due to the disruption caused by the protests (see delegate video).

At 4pm the Reclaim the Streets party mobilised many of the roaming affinity groups at Rathbone Market where a crowd of around 300 took to the streets soon meeting up with a critical mass bicycle group complete with sound system. On the A13 the crowd was eventually blocked in by police (video), later being forced into a park (video), which police had cleared with mounted riot police (video). They were slowly released in small groups after being photographed (reports: [1] [2] [3]).

Meanwhile next to Canning Town DLR a second RTS group occupied the roundabout, as the DLR was again stopped, banners hung on top of the flyover ("Disarm DSEi"), arms delegate buses blockaded and riot police deployed. With another samba group playing, there were more arrests and scuffles as police cleared the roads, later blocking in two main groups of protestors for several hours as people tried to push through police lines (pics: [1] [2] [3]).

The day had seen a high level of disruption around the arms fair, especially given the relatively small numbers of protestors, while police continued using stop and search powers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (reports: [1] [2] [3] pics: [1], [2]). There were many arrests, some targeted, some quite violently, throughout the day.

See Full Timeline.

Reports: [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27]
Pictures: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,8, 9, 10, 11,12, 13, 14, 15,16, 17, 18, 19,20, 21,22,23, 24, 25, 26]
Video:[quicktime,wmv:1, 2,3,4,5, mpeg]
Miscellaneous: Pensioner protest, Corporate media: [1 ,2] Call for evidence of legal support [1,2,3]

Arrests update: 10th, 11th.

Reports from corporate press: [1] [2] [3]

excel dsei underpass blockade 10th sept 03
excel dsei underpass blockade 10th sept 03

Timeline of Events Wednesday. 10th

21.50 - No further reports of people penned in, in or around Canning Town.
</ br> 19.40 - People penned in on Canning Town roundabout are now let off in small groups. There are still about 200 protesters left. Sambistas who negotiated with the police the release of the protesters are insisting on being the last to leave to ensure police stick to agreement.

19.20 - The smaller of the two groups held at Canning Park has been released. Police are still holding the larger group but it looks like they will be let out soon, after being told they have to disperse.

18:45 - The Sheffield Samba Band at Canning Town roundabout has joined forces wih Rythms of Resistance and the two groups are merrily drumming away, despite still being held under section 12 Photos.

18:45 - About 100 activists, in two separate groups, are penned-in at the Canning Town roundabout under Section 14. Police are not responding positively to protesters in costume asking them to dance. Some support from communters in the form of tooting and waving.

18:23 - While police get more heavy-handed with protesters, Disarm DSEi have learnt that delegates will be dining in Harrods this evening from 7pm (map). The dinner tomorrow is still expected to go ahead.

18:22 - And now for the traffic report: there are delays on the jubilee line in both directions, presumably due to the actions at Canning Town.

18:20 - Reports are coming in that 150 people still trapped in Canning Park are being told they now have to leave the park single file and be photographed. Protesters claim police used force to herd people into the park, dragging some of them in by their arms and legs. (Report)
Local kids are beginning to throw rocks at lines of police on Freemason road, as they cannot move forward.

18:05 - The A112 has been diverted as protesters are still on the Canning Road flyover. Tailbacks reaching all the way into the Blackwall Tunnel. Meanwhile, protesters in Canning Town park are being told that they will be allowed to disperse in small groups and under section 14 of the Public Order Act they are barred from going anywhere near the A13 or the Excel Centre. Legal monitors are taking note of police violence.

17:55 - 200-300 people have been forced (some violently) into the park by Canning Town station by riot police. Local youngsters have been chased out of the park by police, who have about 25 vans and a number of riot horses on the scene. (report)

17:45 - Police are herding people off the A13 and into Canning Town recreational ground. They are being told that if they do not go into the park they will be arrested. (reports: 1 | 2)

17:40 - London's deputy mayor, Jenny Jones, has spoken out about the 'horror' of the arms fair after visiting the exhibition on Tuesday. Report

17:31 - Imc volunteer witness to violent arrests at Canning Town roundabout. Some protestors climbed to the top of a DLR train and managed to stop the service for half an hour. DSEi delegates were forced to take shuttle buses which were also blocked from moving. One activist climbed the overpass of the roundabout and unfurled a banner reading 'shut-down DSEi'

17:30 - A few hundred people at Canning Town roundabout, not penned in but 15 police vans and police in riot gear are present

17:20 - Part of the RTS party has made it to Canning Town roundabout and there are unconfirmed reports of police violence against protesters.

17:15 - A contingent of transport police chased a number of protesters into a local estate, ending in scuffles.

17:00 - Mounted police are heading up Prince Regents Lane, probably heading towards the location where around 100 RTS revellers are penned in. Meanwhile, the police are trying to open the eastbound carriageway of the A13 and have about 45 vans on the scene. That's 45 vans not catching criminals in the rest of London but protecting arms dealers at taxpayers' expense.

16:50 - The RTS sound system has started up now. It may be stuck behind a line of cops, but it's still a party!

16:45 - Almost the entire RTS party has now been surrounded by police intent on stopping them moving any further. A few have managed to escape, but the main crowd is now stationary on the A13.

16:40 - Reclaim the Streets (RTS) party now heading towards Excel centre where DSEi is being held. Police manage to separate one group of people from the rest of the crowd and are holding the penned in on the A13.

16:25 - A sound system and Critical Mass have joined the RTS party, which is now heading east from Canning Town. People are chanting "Whose streets? Our streets!" Number of people is estimated between 400-600.

16:20 - According to the corporate media the total number of people arrested in relation to DSEi since 1 September is 93. Presumably, that does not include anybody selling weapons of mass murder, just folks protesting against them.
Meanwhile, Home Sec. David Blunkett is getting cold feet after Liberty threatened to take him to the High Court over police use of anti-terrorism laws to stop and search peace protesters. Blunket has "demanded an explanation" from police chiefs.

16:10 - Protesters outside Custom House DLR station threw disgusting kidney pies at delegates who were leaving the fair. Police intervened, but no arrests were made. Pie-throwers promised to be back soon!

16:00 - About 200 people convene at street party meetup point amid heavy police presence, then proceed to march away from Rathbone market and Canning Town tube. 40 police rush ahead to "protect" a nearby McDonalds.

15:10 - Activists are following suited arms dealers onto tube and starting public discussions out loud and getting travellers involved.

14:41 - 100 ppl blocking victoria dock rd west of junction w/ freemasons rd. police are turning traffic around.

14:34 - A group of 30-40 that had been surrounded by police on freemasons rd have now been released and are heading south.

14.20 - Blockade of canning town bus station for 45 mins

14.28 A group of about 30 ppl [thought to be the group that broke through police lines on newham way/A13] is now penned in on the corner of freemasons rd and sofia rd next to canning town recreational ground. this group has been charged by police using batons but the situation now seems calm.

13:53 - Police vans no longer blocking berwick rd.

13:50Prince Regent DLR station is closed. DLR security are not allowing anyone onto the platform.
About 60-70 ppl have split off from the 150-strong group and are heading west, towards excel building, through back streets, as victoria dock rd has been blocked by police lines. The combined samba bands are heading east again along newham way. 300-400 ppl in total, moving slowly, taking up the whole road.

13:43 - Police have retaken the roundabout opposite Royal Albert dlr station. Still no traffic moving through - police blocking roundabout

13:39 - A group of 150 with samba band marching north up prince regent lane. police have put a police line at berwick rd [where media centre is]. 5 vans following.

13:38 - Samba band and 50 people are moving down prince regent lane towards victoria dock rd.

13.30 - Local School kids in the area are trying to get out of school - police are inside stopping them.

13:30 200 ppl have been pushed down Victoria Dock Rd away from custom house. Police are v aggressive arresting at least 4. The road was closed to traffic w/ barriers which have been turned over by demonstrators. The Samba band and another 50 ppl in pink are now cordoned in a v small space and no one is allowed out.

13.30 - Police have now formed a line trying to stop protesters. Two arrests have been confirmed, one of very violently punched to the floor. The crowd is chanting "police protect murderers".

13.20 - 100 - 200 people outside Prince regent DLR Station. people are pushing over barriers to get into the road and are clashing with police in semi-riot gear. One arrest so far. There are two samba bands; one has blocked the road in front of excel - but moved by police. several arrests. A second samba band is now moving towards the excel building and has just started to block the road. Police are trying to keep raod open. At Blackwell DLR station, police have almost got people off train.

13.18 Crowd still at under pass of Connaught roundabout - police arrested an old woman who was doing a sit-down - dragged her away.

13.15 - Still about 100 people at the Connaught underpass.(picture Some arms traders passing the area have been confronted by protestors. As a result police has moved in pushing and kicking people back.
Police are agressively pushing the crowd back away from Excel - and making a number of arrests. BBC reports 79 arrests so far.

13.07 - 100-200 people outside Prince regent DLR Station. people are pushing over barriers to get into the road and are clashing with police in semi-riot gear. Two arrests so far.

13.05 - Samba and protestors blocking street in front of Excel carpark - delegates watching and bobbing to beat - lots of police vans arriving.

13.00 - Police is now moving onto the two activists that stopped the train at Blackwall DLR station. They're using cutters to unlock the activists. Connaught underpass is still blocked bby a crowd of around 150. At the roundabout East of ExCeL,police are snatching people out of affinity groups to arrest them and prevent them from moving towards ExCeL centre.

12.45 - A DLR train has been stopped at Blackwall by two activists locked on top of it. As a result shuttle busses are now running between Blackwall and the ExCel centre. (pictures)

12.30 - A group of around 150 people is now cordoned on the East side of the Royal Albert Road.

12:00 - At the ExCeL centre two men taken off the DLR at ExceL for trying to sell a case full of arms to the arms dealers on the train. The arms in question consisted of various barbie arms and other doll parts including heads.(pics)

11.55 - 60 people are blocking eastern underpass

11.45 - east gate underpass - on way for meet up point - 250 people pushed through line of riot police - now jogging towards east gate.

11.30 Critical mass arriving at ExCeL centre. A hundred cyclists surrended by an equal amount of police on bikes and motorbikes. 3 soundsystems on site. (pictures) Mark Thomas is entertaining the crowd.
DLR has been blocked for one and a half hour now by two activists who locked themselves to a train. Both of them have now been arrested. Read report 1 and 2

11.25 - People from the Canning Town meeting poing are now heading down Silvertown Way towards Prince Regent DLR station.In Royal Victoria roundabout, police have prevented around 60 people from moving. The group is now cordoned by a large number of police, some of which are in riot gear.

11.20 - Storm DSEi - a car was parked diagonally where some activists attempted to lock themselves to the car. Police reacted quickly and prevented the lock on. However, the car was towed into the middle reservation, with a protestor apparently locked inside. A small group of people were grabbed by police, told to move away from the area. An undetermined number of arrests were made.

11:15 - 40 demonstrators at Canning Town station with Revolution banners are not being allowed out of station, and are being guarded by Police dressed in Black. (pictures)
About 40 people at Prince Albert roundabout. 2 or 3 people were stopped and searched. Together with about a 10-15 strong samba band, the crowd headed back towards Canning Town by the allotments. Another 5 people stopped and searched.Then riot police detained the samba band for a few minutes, very near St. Anne's church.

11.10 - Canning Town station, there were around 40 people in what was called 'Blockade the Death Fair' action. They were prevented from leaving the station for a short time by cops in black, semi riot gear and other police. They started walking from the station exit down Silvertown Road, and then went under the flyover down Victoria Dock road. They walked past Prince Regent DLR folowed by several police vans and on foot patrol men. Then continued up to Counnaught Road flyover, where, just underneath, they met protestors from this morning's 'Storm the Death Fair' action.

10.30 - 8/9 people have been seen scuffling with police at the East entrance of ExCel - after what looks like an attempt to lock onto a car blockading road.

10:00 - A woman has D-Locked to a DLR (Docklands Light Railway) train filled with Arms Traders on the way to the fair. All power has been turned off and the DLR system is stationary, awaiting arrival of transport police.Pics

9:30 - Reports of Samba Band and seventy people on the loose around Excel Centre and a vigil taking place outside Custom House.

9.00 - ISM solidarity action at the offices of the Israeli arm dealers company Rafael. Twenty activists wearing pirate customs tried to occupy the offices. They managed to enter the bulting but not the office. They then stayed outside the premisses with banners, chanting against Rafael and giving out information and leaflets. pictures

8.30 - Critical Mass sets off from bank tube station