Chaos as police block anti-war demo
Police use pepper spray, batons and dogs to stop anti-war march
First-year student violently arrested on campus
Lewes Road closed for several hours
Protesters clashed with police at a demonstration last Wednesday.
Around 150 protesters, including some students, had gathered at the entrance to campus, where they were met by around 40 police officers. Violence broke out before the march even started. Police arrested a first year student, saying she had refused to remove a face mask. Several more protesters were dragged out of the crowd and were arrested or had their masks removed.
The protest had been organised by anti-war group Smash EDO. They had planned to march to the EDO MBM Ltd factory in Moulsecoomb which manufactures components for bombs used by coalition forces in Iraq.
The march, led by a banner saying ‘Smash the Arms Trade’, proceeded down Lewes Road and gradually swelled to about 300-strong. When the march reached the junction with Home Farm Road, where the EDO factory is located, police used batons and pepper spray to stop the protesters getting any closer. Asst Chief Constable Jeremy Paine said it had been decided not to allow the protest close to the factory because of violence against police at the last Smash EDO march in June.
Referring to last week’s demonstration, Constable Paine said, “There was clear intent to use violence and cause damage evidenced by the high level of tension among the demonstrators and articles observed and seized by police.”
Lewes Road was closed for several hours as the stalemate continued, causing severe disruption to bus services from campus to Brighton. Eventually police forced protesters onto the pavement. The march then carried on into Brighton, closely escorted by police.
The march dispersed into smaller groups which continued to be escorted by police until the evening.
Smash EDO said the factory had been forced to close for the day.
Larissa, a pacifist from London said the police reaction had been heavy-handed. “This is not direct action. No-one has committed any crimes – it’s a peaceful protest,” she said.
Protesters Adam and Jake said the protest aimed to make people in Brighton aware of the activities of EDO, and that the police violence gave the protesters a bad name.
But Moulsecoomb residents who saw the protest seemed unconvinced. “There are no buses to pick the children up from school,” complained one. “They’re not going to achieve anything by protests that end in violence,” added another.
According to an internet report a photographer was seriously injured by a police dog in a field near the factory. The report appealed for witnesses to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The protest was the latest episode in the campaign against EDO, which has targeted the company since 2003. Smash EDO demonstrate every week outside the EDO factory and are planning a Halloween-themed demonstration on October 29th.