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This is a Local Arms Fair for Local People

Dillon Davey | 11.09.2003 14:43 | DSEi 2003 | Anti-militarism | London

Canning Town Casuals Come Out Against Arms Fair

Some of the choicer moments of yesterday's actions around ExCel came when the people who actually live in the estates neighbouring the centre got involved. Whilst these Reebok Classic clad casuals might not have really cared about protesting against the arms industry (although when asked many did agree with the sentiments of the protestors) they were nevertheless up for some aggro with the police. Who for some reason don't seem very popular around Canning Town.

Echoing the Situationist idea that juvenile delinquents are the only true revolutionaries, a gang of lads in their early teens had taken it on themselves to stand shoulder to shoulder with the protestors outside Custom House DLR harranging the arms dealers as 'murderers'. Nearby a gang of high school girls discussed exactly why a protestor who threw a half eaten roll and a paper bag at an arms dealer was being threatened with arrest.

Perhaps the best stand off between locals lads and the boys in blue came when the police were trying to make a way out of their blunder of hemming the core of Reclaim the Streets into the middle of busy Beckton Road. Suddenly instead of being faced merely with a bunch of gaudily atired boys and girls combatting international terror with bongos they were confronted with the raw aggression of a fist of townies.

For a brief time an unspoken alliance developed between the locals and the protestors. Young, baseballed capped geezers mouthed off at the police, looked like turning nasty when the busies tried to push them back, and jeered loudly when a policeman got a bit heavy handed with one protestor. All in all it was brilliant episode, and made the police looked genuniely threatened and at a loss as to how to cope with the unfolding events.

After an initial response of bemusement and bewilderment Canning Town seemed to be genuinely fascinated that a bunch of peace activists should be causing trouble on their doorsteps. Few of them seemed to be aware that a mere spit away people were buying and selling military hardware and when told this they usually became supportive of the action being taken by groups like Reclaim the Streets. One can only wonder why no one tried to inform this community about the Arms Fair before yesterday. Surely most of them would have wanted to come out and say something about what was going on just over the road from the homes where they live and the schools their children attend. After all the local authorities were unlikely to tell them about it.

Dillon Davey


Display the following 6 comments

  1. locals — tim
  2. Totally agree — Ad Nauseum
  3. locals... — the peaceful terrorist (oxymoron)
  4. Never see the police on foot in my area either — Mikey Nike
  5. samba band did some leafletting, but so much more was needed — phatpat
  6. ...just to clarify — phatpat