DSEI protest Day 4: Police crackdown intensifies at borders, migration and anti-racism day

The campaign against the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) intensified yesterday, with the police using excessive and violent methods to clamp down on peaceful protesters and infiltrating their campsites.

The full day of action was themed around migration, borders and anti-racism, according to Stop the Arms Fair, the coalition of groups and individuals determined to stop the DSEI, one of the world’s largest arms fairs, from successfully commencing on Monday, 14 September 2021.

The coalition described the 4th day of action as one aiming “not only to call for an end to the arms fair but also to stand in solidarity with those oppressed by the arms trade and to celebrate migrant culture”. The speaker line-up included Marvina Newton from Black Lives Matter and Kill the Bill campaigns, Jackie Walker from Jewish Voice for Peace and Teddy Brown from Gay Liberation Front. This is part of the coalition’s 10-day action against DSEI, which it promised to be full of “talks, music and creative resistance”.

The first arrest of the day occurred before 7am, after which protesters began blocking the road to stop more vehicles from transporting arms exhibits to the East Gate of the ExCeL Centre. A workshop carried out by No Borders MCR, a Manchester-based activist group, took place on the road and grass verge.

Activists then started occupying a police van and a bulldozer made by JCB, a company that supplies these bulldozers to the Israeli military to demolish Palestinian homes.

Police actions began intensifying after midday. Stop the Arms Fair criticised officers for being “incredibly abusive today, using excessive force on an individual wearing a hidden disabilities sunflower lanyard.

The police are using violence and intimidation whilst protecting an industry of murder!

After 6pm, the police entered activists’ camps after spending hours increasing stop and searches on them.

Stop the Arms Fair urged everyone to contact the Met police and “let them know this is not ok”. Green & Black Cross, an institution supporting grassroots environmental and social justice movements, called out for urgent help and support for protesters who were arrested and taken to multiple stations in East London. A Supreme Court judgement which reaffirmed activists’ right to protest may set a precedent for this year’s actions too. The case involved four demonstrators who were arrested after blockading DSEI at the ExCeL Centre in 2017.

Although police actions are intensifying as we approach the official launch of DSEI, yesterday’s events symbolised the protesters’ success in disrupting the setup for the arms fair.

The resistance against DSEI is no doubt becoming stronger. Today’s day of action will be centred around the climate emergency and will be a nod to Greta Thunberg’s Fridays For Future movement.

Stay tuned via our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages for more live updates from the ground. We are very grateful to have received some financial support from Stop the Arms Fair in order to report the actions against DSEI from 6 to 17 September.

Featured image supplied to Phoenix Media Co-op, used with permission

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