Brighton arms factory ‘decommissioned’ in Gaza protest: Prisoner Support Requested

7 February 2009

On January 21, 2009, it was reported that:

9 people have gained entry to the ITT/EDO MBM arms factory in Brighton, where they are believed to have caused extensive damage to the offices, and to industrial tooling used to make arms.

The factory produces weapons components including the ‘zero retention force arming units’ and ‘ejector release unit 151′ which the Smash EDO/ITT campaign says are supplied to the Israeli Air Force. In a phone call from inside the factory the ‘decommisioners’ said they were acting in solidarity with the people of Gaza, who have recently been on the receiving end of the factories products.

According to reports in the national media, the action may have the effect of shutting down the factory for some time. The BBC quotes Det Ch Insp Graham Pratt 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….The damage is significant and the value substantial.”

Prior to entering the factory, the activists made a video in which they explained their reasons for the action. One commented: “Israel are committing a gross crime now in Gaza. Israel have killed hundreds of children. I think its absolutely disgusting that weapons made in our cities and in our country are being used to kill innocent women and children. They have been used indiscriminately. If the law and the police cant do anything about it its about time somebody else did.”

Around 30 police attended the factory, where they witnessed computers and office equipment being thrown out of first floor windows. Nine people were arrested at the scene and taken to Hollingbury and Worthing Police Stations, where they were held on suspicion of burglary. One protester is believed to have required hospital treatment.

The arms factory has been targeted by the Smash EDO Campaign for a number of years. In 2005 EDO MBM took High Court action in an attempt to curtail protest at the factory. They lost the action, which proved to be an expensive own-goal as it gave the campaign increased exposure, and brought it to national attention. In 2008 the factory was taken over by ITT. Weekly protests have been held outside the factory since 2004, and there have been a number of national demos, at the factory and on the streets of Brighton.

Now, a request has been made in support of the prisoners:

“The two from Bristol who have been remanded in East Sussex would greatly welcome messages of support. Send cards and letters to Elijah Smith (prison No. VP7551) and Robert Alford (VP7552) at: HMP Lewes,1 Brighton Road, East Sussex BN7 1EA”.