Struggles near home: why fighting the arms trade locally is effective

August 13, 2013

Demonstrators and police inside the EDO MBM car park at the Carnival Against the Arms Trade

Activists in Brighton have been campaigning to shut down EDO MBM (owned by ITT Exelis) since 2004. For nine years, we have taken a range of actions against the factory, including road blockades, lock-ons of the factory gates, rooftop occupations, phone blockades, critical mass bike rides, and action camps.

In January 2009, when more than 1,400 Palestinians had been killed in the Gaza Massacre, a group of activists broke into the factory and caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage. In court, the activists were found not guilty, as the jury found that they were trying to prevent war crimes.

Smash EDO believes that it is highly effective to target our local arms company. By focusing our efforts on the factory closest to us, we are able to protest regularly, and for eight years we held weekly noise demonstrations outside EDO’s premises. By campaigning locally, the public can relate more to struggles that are on their doorstep. We also make regular front page headlines in the local Brighton newspaper, keeping our struggle in the public eye. We hold events that all local people are invited to, where we give informative talks and have guest speakers.

Our constant campaigning does make a huge impact on EDO’s reputation and profits. In 2005, the arms company was so worried about protesters that it ntried to bring a high court injunction against activists, attempting to ban them from protesting anywhere within a square kilometre of the factory premises. EDO lost the court case, which cost it over £1 million. And in 2008, the police tried and failed to censor a SCHnews documentary on the Smash EDO campaign.

These two failed attempts to silence protest by EDO and the police only made the campaign bigger. And in 2009, when activists broke into the factory and smashed up machinery, they cost the company between £180,000 and £250,000.

We are constantly fighting court battles, and with each court appearance, the more evidence we collect that EDO are acting unlawfully. EDO’s directors constantly contradict themselves under oath. We have established that they not only lie about the components that they make, but also who they supply their parts to. We use our court appearances to expose EDO for what it really is: an arms company which makes a killing from massacre and carnage, whose directors will lie in order to protect corporate interests and profits.

EDO’s parent company, ITT Exelis, will be parading its arms components at this year’s DSEI. Protected by police and security, the underhand arms dealers will hope to continue with business as usual. It is essential that all anti-militarist campaigners stand in solidarity and take direct action against this most corrupt and deadly of industries.

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EDO is complicit in war crimes. It profits from carnage and continues to supply weapons to aggressive military regimes. The company makes components for US and Israeli F16 and British Tornado aircraft. It has worked jointly with Raytheon Systems in the development of the Paveway bomb, which was the most used air weapon in the Shock and Awe attack on Iraq.  It has also supplied weapon umbilical cables for jets involved in some of Afghanistan’s deadliest massacres. We also understand that EDO is certified to handle secret research projects for the MoD.

ITT Exelis is already supplying components for the MQ9 Reaper drone, used by both the US and the UK in Afghanistan. In marketing its products in the US, EDO is profiting from the covert and illegal war being fought by the US army and CIA, using drones armed with miniature weapons in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In May 2012, John Eaton, a director of the EDO MBM factory in Brighton, stated that “flexible responses require new approaches to the delivery of small non traditional weapons from non traditional airframes involved in the kill chain.”

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