The decommisioners are six activists on trial for direct action taken against the massacre in Gaza. On January 17th, as the bombs rained on Gaza, they destroyed hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of machinery owned by EDO MBM, preventing the factory from manufacturing bomb racks and arming units for Israeli F16s.
Eight people are currently on bail and one is on remand, currently in Lewes Prison. All are charged with conspiracy to cause criminal damage.
Between the 16th and the 23rd of October, actions were held across the UK and in Palestine in support of the decommissioners. On the 16th, in Manchester, a demonstration was held outside Brimar, a factory making display units for the Israeli Apache helicopter, launching a new campaign. Several of the decommissioning defendants were arrested at the demonstration for breach of bail but later released. On Monday a demonstration was held at Brighton Town Hall calling on Brighton and Hove Council to debate the presence of EDO MBM in Brighton, a petition will be handed in to the council meeting in December. On Wednesday some of the names of those killed during the Gaza massacre were read outside the EDO MBM factory in Brighton. On Thursday two pickets of the Foreign office were held and a petition calling for an end to arms exports to Israel and in support of the decommissioners was handed in. On Friday the Palestinian village of Bil In dedicated its weekly demonstration against the apartheid wall to the decommissioners.
Reports of Target Brimar Demonstration 1 | 2 | Target Brimar Campaign Statement about Arrests of Decommissioners | 3 | SCHnews - It's Brim Up North
Click here to download 'If I had a Hammer', a 32 page booklet explaining why the decommissioning was necessary.
Who are the Decommissioners
“If the law and the police can’t do anything about it it’s about time somebody else did” – The EDO Decommissioners
On January the 17th 2009 the bombs had already fallen relentlessly on Gaza for three weeks. Massive, passionate demonstrations and pickets had been held in many cities around the country and the world in protest against Israel’s war crimes. However, a growing sense of helplessness was grabbing hold of the movement as the Palestinian body count stood at 1400 and counting. 300 of the dead were children. This was the night of the “citizen’s decommissioning” of the weapons manufacturer EDO MBM/ITT in Moulsecoomb, Brighton.
Just after midnight Elijah Smith, Tom Woodhead, Robert Nicholls, Ornella Sabiene, Robert Alford and Harvey Tadman and broke into EDO’spremises with the aim to, in Elijah Smith’s words, “...smash it up to the best of [their] abilities”. It was an entirely accountable action where each decommissioner had pre-recorded a video in which they stated the reasons for their participation – to help dismantle the war machine from the factory floor (view their video statements. Once inside the building, they barricaded themselves in and set to work; Equipment used to make weapon components - including some used in Israeli F16 fighter jets - were trashed whilst computers, filing cabinets and office furnishings were thrown out of the windows. Once they were done they calmly waited for the police to arrest them. Three bystanders were also arrested on the day and are now implicated in the decommissioners’ court case.
According to EDO £300,000 worth of damage was caused and Detective Chief Inspector Graham Pratt was quoted in the Guardian as saying: “Windows had been smashed and offices turned over in what I would describe as wanton vandalism, but with machinery and equipment so targeted that it could have been done with a view of bringing business to a standstill”. He was of course misguided. Far from being an action of “wanton vandalism”, it was a thought through act of resistance against what could only be described as a massacre going on in Gaza. However, the second part of his statement was rightly observed: the decommissioning prevented the manufacturing side of EDO from working for several weeks, hence slowing down the murderous war machine they are a part of.
One of the decommissioners, Elijah Smith, is still remanded. A ten week court case was scheduled to start in the last week of October 2009. It has now been scheduled to begin on May 17th 2010. The defendants will argue that they were entitled to decommission EDO because the factory was complicit in war crimes.
One decommisioner is still on remand: Elijah Smith, XP 7551, HMP Lewes, Brighton Road, Lewes, BN7 1EA. Letters of support are always appreciated. If you want to support financially postal orders can be made out to HM Prison Service with prisoner number and your name and address or make a donation to the campaign at www.smashedo.org.uk/donate.htm. Please tag donations as ‘prisoner support’.