The security cordon around DSEi, the "fastest-growing defence show in the world." was breached shortly after 7.30am this morning, when a group of about 20 activists ran into the car park of the ExCeL Centre in London's docklands, where the exhibition opened today. A solidarity blockade of BAE took place in Manchester. About 80 people joined a CAAT march and rally, and about 50 cyclists arrived at Custom House DLR station from a critical mass style ride that left Bank tube station mid-morning. Space Hijackers managed to get a tank and sound system to the main entrance of ExCeL, after diverting the police with a decoy tank. They auctioned off the tank and invited the 200 strong crowd to a party against the arms fair so to let the fair's delegates know what they think about their murderous business.
Timeline Of Events: See full Ticker
Outline of Day Events:
17:30: Protestors have been shouting slogans and jeering arms fair delegates as they leave via Canning Town DLR station. One banner reads "Stop Dealing in Death". The area is still full of police who continue to stop and search small groups of protestors, but most delegates have now left.
17:00: Critical Mass has moved off towards Canning Town. Tank has left the West Entrance.
16:30: Many police reported to be at Canning Town station which is used by the delegates to leave the arms fair
16:00: The tank was sold for $50 [.wav audio report]. The party continues.
15:45: Critical Mass has arrived at the West Gate, where police are placing barriers around the tank and protestors. The auction of the tank starts at 16:00 [.wav audio report]
15:10 The second tank has now been driven off the low loader and has approached the West gate of DSEi where it has parked blocking the mini roundabout entrance [.wav audio report]. The turret is facing the arms fair, music is blasting out and a 'For Sale' sign has been hung on the side. [Aduio reports: 1 | 2]
14:25 Another rogue tank has been spotted on a low loader lorry heading towards DSEi. Protestors are now following behind it. The Space Hijackers tank in Lochnagar Street in undergoing a lengthy police inspection. [.wav audio report]
14:10 After negotiating a planned route with the police the Space Hijackers Tank finally moved off, but has now been stopped after advancing only around 10 yards. A police officer has just said that they intend to carry out a vehicle check on the tank and may also search the 9 or so occupants of the tank - he estimated this could take up to an hour. [.wav audio report]
14:00 Around 80 people are protesting outside Custom House DLR (Docklands Light Railway) station next to DSEi. They were joined by some of the cyclists who were on an earlier critical mass type demonstration. There are reports of police searching people coming off the DLR.
Defence Systems & Equipment International (DSEi) is a bi-annual arms fair held at the ExCeL Centre. In previous exhibitions torture equipment and cluster bombs have been on display. Confirmed invitees to this years exhibition which is organised by Reed-Elsevier and DESO, include serial human rights abusers China, Libya, Colombia, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Some actions took place in advance of the opening, with Army recruitment adverts subvertised in Oxford, and a lock-on and weapons inspection at MSI in Norwich by Norfolk Campaign Against the Arms Trade. Actions on the previous day included a picket of a defence conference in Central London, and an action at AWE Aldermaston.
Call-outs for the Day of Action included a CAAT march, a Critical Mass and a blockade of Custom House DLR station at 1pm. Spacehijackers announced that they would be auctioning a tank to protesters to "level the odds". However, the tank appeared to have been guarded by the police since Monday evening.
The future of DSEi is uncertain for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the impending closure of the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), a government department whose sole purpose is to support arms sales. Secondly, the announcement by Reed-Elsevier, the organisers of DSEi, that they intend to sell their arms fair business. Reed's announcement came after sustained campaigning by many groups including the editorial boards of journals which Reed publishes, most prominently The Lancet, who maintained that supporting arms fairs was not compatible with medical ethics.
Auction ended at 4.30 after offers of first born children, human organs and property but eventually went for just $50 as the arms dealers consider cold hard cash to be worth more than human life.
"two people were detained after throwing paint around at Custom House DLR station, the nearest stop to the conference. The 59-year-old woman and 40-year-old man, both from Dalston in east London, were arrested for criminal damage, police said."
All in all not a bad result for the protesters this time around.
Yesterday morning, people ran into the car park of the Excel Centre where delegates were making their way to buy weapons. Police pounced on the protesters, arresting 15 people. One woman sustained minor injuries and was taken to hospital before being arrested and put in custody. Some of the 15 were released early on without being charged, others were kept in custody all day. They began releasing people at 6pm last night, all were charged with aggravated trespass. They also have bail conditions which state they cannot go to Newham or anywhere near the area. They will have to appear in court soon, and may request public support. Keep an eye out on Indymedia!
Reporter from afar
peoples republic of southwark
Police presence was overkill and the level of victimisation ridiculous. I cannot see the logic behind their unprofessional approach, as this was a legitimate demonstration. Police blocked demonstrators from gaining access to the public bridge between the two sites, which is situated quite a distance away from Custom House. This caused the protest area to be unnecessarily spread out to the main roads. These roads are used by the public to conduct their daily affairs, but due to the exaggerated police activities they were disrupted. Police vehicles could be seen blocking traffic lanes, doing u-turns, breaking spontaneously and generally driving in a very unsafe manner. They also disrupted the peace in the local neighbourhood with the excessive use of sirens and by roaring their vehicles up and down the streets. The police were with no doubt the biggest contribution to noise pollution. Furthermore the majority of them used negative body language and acted like brutes to say the least.
As a South African, I have to point out that the entire approach that was taken by the police at the Demonstration, reminds me of that of the Police State during the Apartheid Era
This particular member of the police can be singled out as being one of the worst behaved at the legitimate DSEI Demonstration on 11/09/2007. He could be seen acting like an absolute maniac, repeatedly filming and photographing demonstrators. This police photographer continually entered the legitimate demonstration area and the Tank in an in intimidating manner. When questioned why he was behaving in such a brutal way he often got aggressive and then hid behind numbers of police officers. His actions were totally out of context to a peaceful event, as he was reacting as if it was a war zone. He could be seen attempting to instigate violence amongst both demonstrators and police officers on a number of occasions. He made physical contact with demonstrators and repeatedly invaded their personal space with his media equipment. I experienced this as he continually held his media equipment 10cm – 15cm from my face. I could not believe the amount of hatred in his eyes. His body language was incredibly aggressive and he delivered an arrogant attitude. His intensity and repeated use of media equipment is totally illogical. The irony is that if any of the demonstrators wanted to remain anonymous, they would not have participated in the Protest Action
I went down to New Scotland Yard on 12/09/2007, to lay a complaint against this police photographer. I was unable to make contact with any members of the Complaints Department, but was advised how to go about making a formal complaint. My intentions are to initiate legal action against him for the uncivilised manner in which he behaved and I have contacted a solicitor group.
Once all the chauffeured Arms Dealers had concluded their business and left the EXCEL Centre, there was a general consensus by the Demonstrators to end the Protest Action for the day. Most of us moved in small groups towards Canning Town bus station, under police escort. This caused a major disruption to the flow of traffic on this busy main road. The police seemed obsessed with the Black / Red and Anarchist Flags that the group I was in were holding. Police vehicles continually drove up and down the main road, doing regular u-turns, packed with police officers who could not stop staring at us in an intimidating manner. Then one of the police vehicles stopped next to us, along the main road. Enter PC 1545.
PC 1545 approached, the rest of the police officers climbed out their vehicle and surrounded our group of Protesters. He then informed me that they had reason to believe that I was carrying harmful weapons. Weapons, at a Disarm DSEI Demonstration, I did my utmost best to keep a straight face as being searched is a serious matter. Logic suddenly set in and it became very obvious that if I did not co-operate with the police, the whole group were going to get thrown into police vehicles and taken to who knows where for interrogation. As it was, people in our group were already getting frustrated and the rest of the police were starting to close in. I made a quick decision to co-operate before the situation got any worse, but we were not going home empty handed.
I negotiated a deal with PC1545, in return for co-operating and providing what ever information that he wanted, I wanted a photograph of him, a mug shot. If providing all my personal details was ever going to come back and bite me in the butt, he is the witness that I had no weapons and co-operated with him … otherwise why would he let me take the photograph? After all, what is the point of Freedom of Speech, if there is no Freedom after Speech? He looked around, there was a moment of silence … the ball was in his court. He agreed and once I had provided him with all the information he wanted, signed the Search Docket and answered a number of questions relating to the flags, he let me take the photograph that is attached. He even said that I was ‘a nice guy’.
I have an eye condition that requires me to use spectacles with magnifying lenses, so it was only when I got home that I was able to read what PC 1545 had written. At first I could not believe what I was reading, but after the unprofessional way in which most of the police behaved throughout the day, I guess it’s not surprising. He had written that I was ‘very evasive when spoken to’ and that I ‘tried to conceal …’ followed by two words that various people cannot make out. On top of that, he wrote that I was seen in the company of a group of males, when there were also woman in the group, throughout the day. Furthermore, he wrote that I was wearing black boots, when in actual fact I was wearing a pair of converse trainers.
I urge anyone in the future, at any Demonstrations and Camps, to be very alert if ever searched by the police. If you are in a position where you decide to co-operate to keep the Peace, make sure to read what you are signing. Everything happens so quickly in these situations, but when the police manage to falsify this kind of evidence, it can only do harm to the future of Protest Actions. The police can use this kind of falsified information to distort the perspectives of the Politicians and the Public in general. My intentions are to initiate legal action against him for falsifying the Search Docket and I have contacted a solicitor group. I am submitting a complaint about this incident to New Scotland Yard’s Complaints Department and the IPCC. It is a separate complaint to the one about SCD43, who has been now identified as Neil Sinclair (see ‘SCD43 – Brute of the Day at DSEI Demonstration 11/09/2007’ above). Both these complaints are included in the report that I am completing and sending to Ken Livingstone (see ‘Police Victimisation at the DSEI Demonstration 11/09/2077’ above)