DSEi Disarmed in Docklands

The event was well managed by security officials, and nothing had been left to chance. An unofficial protest broke through security cordons early in the morning however, when twenty activists broke through the cordon and attempted to run into the car park. Guards gave chase and security vans quickly barricaded the protesterÂ’s route into the car park, allowing the protesters to be rugby tackled to the ground and dragged off (source: http://www.indymedia.org.).

By midday however, over 200 people had rallied the official protest. Two protesters were arrested after pouring red paint ‘rivers of blood’ onto the ground and posing as dead bodies. Arms traders looked on as they were dragged away by the police. Zelda Jeffers, one of the protesters, said: ‘We are horrified and saddened when children and young people are gunned down on the streets of Britain. The arms used are manufactured and traded – profits are made at the cost of life and suffering. We call for this to stop.’

Meanwhile, a tank, acquired by anti-capitalist group ‘Space Hijackers’ (www.spacehijackers.org) was stopped and searched by police. It turned out that this was a decoy by the protesters, as at 14:30 another tank was spotted on a low loader heading quickly towards the DSEi with protesters in its wake. While the police were busy with the decoy, the rogue tank was offloaded at the west entrance of the Excel centre. It wasn’t long before chaos broke out, as the tank was rigged with a large sound system, and mayhem ensued. The protest was however calmed by police, and the rest of the day was relatively peaceful.

Several other events were held in protest of the DSEi during the week. One of the most significant was the disruption of the ‘Dinner of Death’, a celebration dinner organised for the biggest arms dealers. Matt Taylor, a student from Royal Holloway, was one of the many protesters attending. ‘How can these businessmen and women eat and drink while the bombs they are selling are falling on innocent heads?’ he told me. ‘I hope they choke!’. A handful of protesters evaded the police and dyed the Princess of Wales fountain red, while around 150 activists harassed anyone entering or leaving the hotel restaurant. All while the arms dealers sat in the warm hotel, toasting successful and profitable deals. You could say that they made a killing.

Slowly but surely the message is getting through to the government: arms dealers are not welcome in Britain. Nor are they welcome anywhere else in the world, for who needs weapons when millions of people around the world are already dying of poverty anyway?

Trips to London protests are regularly organised by Royal Holloway students. However still we require a greater presence of our students. If you wish to be a part of future protests, please let us know your interest by contacting matt.taylor@rhul.ac.uk or g.galloway@rhul.ac.uk and we will keep you up to date on future trips.

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