Police defend Grenfell cladding manufacturer linked to Israel’s repression of Palestinians

Police officers target protesters in Birmingham

Direct-action network Palestine Action occupied an Arconic site in Birmingham on 14 June. And as police moved in on the second day of the action, they appeared to have an increasingly combative attitude towards the people supporting the occupation.

No justice, no peace: from Grenfell to Gaza

Palestine Action said it occupied Arconic because the company makes:

a range of materials, including sheet metal, for the manufacture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin military aircraft, used by the Israeli military in assaults on Gaza

At the same time, it added:

One of Arconic’s major shareholders – Elliot Investment Management – was founded by Paul Singer, who has funnelled money into Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the ‘friends of the IDF’, and anti-BDS organisations.

It also stressed the firm’s responsibility for:

production of the unsafe, highly flammable cladding which enabled the spread of fire through Grenfell Tower.

The occupation began on the fourth anniversary of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people. As housing charity Shelter insisted, this is “one of the greatest housing injustices this country has seen”. The UK government, however, has so far refused to implement new social housing regulations that it has promised on numerous occasions. As the grassroots Justice4Grenfell group highlighted, “still no one has been held accountable for the disaster at Grenfell”.

The Israeli state’s latest attack on Gaza in May, meanwhile, killed 253 people, including 66 children. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says the apartheid regime committed war crimes.

Police crackdown

Despite community solidarity in the street, police eventually arrested the campaigners occupying Arconic’s roof. This came after allegations that officers were hindering the work of legal observers. It also came after the police seemed to become increasingly heavy-handed with protesters.

“Shut down war criminals”

Palestine Action said in a press release that the action:

succeeded in highlighting the direct connections between the neglect and corporate manslaughter of Grenfell and the repression and mass murder in Gaza – both of which are fuelled by the same criminal global supply chain.

It added that:

Protest and Direct Action is being deployed across the country to shut down war criminals and to take justice and accountability into the hands of the people, as the government continue to refuse to end their complicity and deliver justice.

Main article image via screenshot/Palestine Action