Archive for the 'police' Category


Nottingham anti-arms-trade activist convicted

Rooftop occupation at Heckler & Koch, 18th Feb 2010

Rooftop occupation at Heckler & Koch

On May 20th at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, anti-arms-trade activist Kirk Jackson was found guilty of aggravated trespass for his part in a protest that shut down an arms company for a day. He was given a twelve month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £350 court costs.

The charge arose from a February 18th protest at the Nottingham warehouse of international arms company Heckler & Koch. Before dawn, four activists locked themselves to the gates, preventing employees from entering, while Kirk and another activist climbed onto the roof and displayed banners accusing the company of “arming repressive regimes”.

Continue reading ‘Nottingham anti-arms-trade activist convicted’


Police give H&K guns to children

Child posing with police H&K submachine gun

Child posing with police H&K submachine gun at a summer fete in London

Police are giving young children Heckler & Koch guns to handle at community events in England. At a recent summer fete in east London, the Met ran a stall displaying a H&K MP5 submachine gun. Children as young as seven were allowed to pose for photos holding the police weapon, which has a firing rate of 800 rounds per minute.

The stunt has been sharply criticised by MPs and anti-gun campaigners. MP Jim Fitzpatrick said  “Giving young children real guns to handle is inappropriate. It could be glamorising the weapons and creating familiarity which is plainly wrong.”

George Galloway MP said “The foolish display at this festival can serve only to normalise firearms or make they appear attractive, even glamorous. We are tragically used to seeing images of primary school aged boys handling assault rifles in Liberia or Mogadishu, but in Limehouse?!”

Police defended the initiative, claiming that it is intended to “divert people away from gun crime”, but Lyn Costello, co-founder of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, called it “a serious error of judgment.”

And it seems that this event was not a one-off: “We’ve done this kind of thing in other places” said Superintendent Tarrant of the Met’s CO19 firearms unit. “We will continue doing it in future.”


Smash EDO Carnival Against the Arms Trade

On Wednesday the 4th of June approximately 500 people marched through Brighton to an arms factory run by the firm ITT, previously EDO MBM. A delegation travelled from Nottingham and distributed Veggies food to demonstrators.

Billed as a Carnival Against the Arms Trade, this event was called by Smash EDO, a Brighton-based group with the aim of shutting down the EDO/ITT arms factory. EDO/ITT make bomb racks, release clips and arming mechanisms for warplanes used in the Iraq war and the Israeli bombardments of Lebanon and Gaza.

Police attempted to force the crowd into a small pen made of crowd barriers, which was quickly dismantled by protesters. One of the factory gates mysteriously opened, and a police van attempted to block the entrance to the EDO/ITT car park, but protesters seized the opportunity to enter the car park and vent their rage against the arms company.

Some of EDO’s windows were smashed and the building was graffitied. The police escalated the situation with the use of batons, pepper spray and dogs to force protesters back away from the factory. Several protesters were injured and there were many reports of police brutality.

Over the day ten people were arrested and were held for up to thirty hours and eight people had their houses raided. The police applied for a twelve hour extension of the 24 hour maximum period of detention, but failed to press any charges. For full coverage, check Indymedia.


Demo launches campaign against Heckler & Koch

Protesters with placards at demo against Heckler & KochOn Tuesday May 6th around 70 people staged a demonstration against arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch‘s Nottingham-based sales HQ. The aim of this demonstration was threefold – to expose the company’s location, to publicise the unethical nature of its business, and to launch a campaign to shut it down.

Protesters of all ages gathered in the sunshine with a variety of colourful banners and placards, some dressed as casualties of war – a reminder of the 1.5 million people who have been killed by Heckler & Koch’s deadly products. From busy Abbey Bridge, the protesters marched along Lenton Lane to the small industrial park that contains H&K’s unmarked warehouse. Around 40 police were waiting, to prevent entry into the industrial park. Around the corner, mounted police were on standby.

A speaker at a demonstration against Heckler & KochThe demonstrators gathered on either side of the gate and listened to speeches about the devastating effect of Heckler & Koch’s weapons in countries around the world. Hundreds of leaflets explaining the purpose of the demonstration were handed out to passers by, some of whom honked their horns in approval. There was a speech about the inspirational Smash EDO campaign, which has been very effective in targeting an arms company in Brighton. A portable sound system played reggae in the sunshine.

Efforts to garner media coverage revealed a famliar pattern: Having received a press release about the demonstration, reporters contacted Heckler & Koch for a statement. To make this unwanted media attention go away, H&K then called Notts police, whose press office called the media outlets, telling their editors that it would be irresponsible for them to cover the story as it could lead to criminals trying to break in to steal weapons stored at Heckler & Koch’s premises.

STOP GUNS placard at demo against Heckler & KochIt doesn’t take a genius to see that this reason is bogus: The fact is that the location of the company is already in the public domain. It is available to anyone with an internet connection, and not just on various campaign websites, but from Companies House and the British Defence Equipment Catalogue and various other sources. If the building can be discovered by peace campaigners, then it can be discovered by criminal gangs.

If the security policy of H&K and Notts police relies on no-one finding out the company’s location, then clearly it is they who are irresponsible, not the campaign or the media. A large warehouse stocked with high-power assault rifles and submachine guns with inadequate security to prevent a robbery is clearly a significant danger to the public, and such a danger is very much in the public interest.

STOP GUNS placard at demo against Heckler & KochDespite this, some media outlets acquiesced to the police request, choosing to accept self-censorship rather than challenge the police. Fortunately ITV Central News was not scared off, and broadcast a report on the 10 o’clock news.

Despite the lawful nature of the protest, police surveillance was oppressive. Evidence Gatherers from the local force were supplemented by the officers of a Forward Intelligence Team in systematically photographing and filming protesters throughout the demonstration. Two protesters were threatened with arrest for blocking a FIT cameraman’s view of the demonstration, and another two were followed by police after the demonstration.

However, spirits remained high throughout the 90-minute picket – in the words of one protester, “a very dehydrating demonstration of big love!” The demo was judged to be a great success by those who attended. It was a fantastic turn-out, and a good start to the campaign. (Pictures courtesy of Tash. For more see Notts Indymedia.)


DSEi 2007 – Opposing the arms fair

A protester holding a placard at DSEi 2007A contingent of activists from Nottingham traveled to London to take part in the protests against the DSEi arms fair.

The day before the arms fair got underway, Jane’s mlitary analysts held a conference at The Mayfair hotel at which top brass advised the military-industrial complex how to prepare for future wars. Nottingham’s vegan catering campaign Veggies was there, serving food and drink to activists on the picket line. (See Indymedia for more info.)

Mark Thomas speaking at the CAAT rally against DSEi 2007Tuesday September 11th was DSEi’s opening day, and a Day Of Action against the arms fair. In the morning there was a colourful march called by Campaign Against the Arms Trade that ended in a rally outside the arms fair. The police tried to corral the protesters inside a pen but gave up when the crowd spilled out to hear speakers including comedian and activist Mark Thomas.

As usual, policing of the event was heavy-handed with a bill to the taxpayer that ran into millions. In addition to a massive police presence at the arms fair, police vehicles remained outside the RampART social centre to monitor and intimidate activists. Protesters from Nottingham were detained and searched, and one was taken into custody twice.

The Space Hijackers auction a tank at DSEi 2007Despite this, the police failed to prevent the Space Hijackers from pulling off a spectacular media stunt: The anarchist group drove a 60-ton tank up to the west entrance of the arms fair and “auctioned” it off to the highest cash bidder, satirising the unethical nature of the arms trade. Check the Space Hijackers website for the hilarious full story.

In other actions, a group of activists from Brighton tried to storm the arms fair but were arrested, a pair of London Catholic Worker activists poured fake blood all over a gangway to the arms fair, and a lady of 66 was arrested for trying to leaflet arms dealers. Thanks to the efforts of campaigners like Mark Thomas, customs officers patrolled the arms fair for the first time and two exhibitors were thrown out for marketing leg irons.

A protest banner at DSEi 2007The number of demonstrators was down on previous years, perhaps due in part to the recent rise of climate change activism, and some were frustrated that they were unable to disrupt the arms fair. However the protests got good coverage in local and national media, prompting DSEi and DESO to field spokesmen to talk down the “tanks, ships and aircraft” and talk up the “humanitarian” and “peacekeeping” applications.

For full coverage of actions against the arms fair, check Indymedia. There are also a couple of good BBC video clips here and here. (Can you spot the Nottingham activists in both?) And a great comment piece in The Guardian sums up the links between DSEi and war, corruption and human rights abuses.

DSEi will be back in 2009; the dates have been confirmed. DSEi will be back and so will we.


Arms company exposed in Nottingham

When the national Disarm DSEi campaign called for a day of action against the arms trade, the target for the Nottingham group was obvious. The city is home to Heckler & Koch – the world’s second-biggest manufacturer of small arms, which will be touting for customers at DSEi. As most locals were unaware of the company’s presence, the Disarm DSEi group called for a public demo to expose its location, highlight its appalling track record and call for it to be shut down.

Demonstration outside the Nottingham office of Heckler & Koch

The demo took place on a sunny afternoon outside Heckler & Koch’s office at Easter Park on the Lenton Lane industrial estate. About 35 people turned up, Nottingham residents young and old, including activists from Greenpeace, CND and Stop The War. A variety of colourful banners and placards was displayed, and leaflets were handed out to passers-by, who had been unaware that their employer’s neighbour is a major arms dealer. Sadly, having heard about the demo, Heckler & Koch closed its office for the afternoon!A speaker at the demonstration against Heckler & Koch

There were a couple of speeches on the evils of the arms trade and Heckler & Koch in particular. The list of repressive regimes and conflict zones that H&K guns have been exported to was read out over a megaphone. Having noticed that the company had failed to signpost their office, activists decided to help them out by clearly labelling the entrance to the industrial park “Heckler & Koch (arms dealers)”.

There was a large police presence, including officers from the Forward Intelligence Team Police Forward Intelligence Team photographing demonstration against H&Kwho had come all the way from London to keep protesters under surveillance with their gigantic cameras. Despite the peaceful nature of the demo, vehicles leaving the demo were photographed and in some cases followed by the police. One protester was pulled over on the pretext of looking “too young”, asked to confirm that he had been at the demo and made to show his driving license (presumably so he could be added to a list of potential troublemakers).

Heckler & Koch tried and failed to keep the demo out of the media. The police, PR and legal response on behalf of the company only succeeded in showing how much the demo rattled its cage. The story was reported in local TV, radio and print news, and you can see pictures on IndyMedia.


Action against police surveillance

Police Forward Intelligence Team Photographing ActivistsFed up with intrusive surveillance and intimidation, Disarm DSEi activists have established FIT Watch – a movement aimed at turning the tables on police Forward Intelligence Teams.


Activists threatened with anti-terror law

On Tuesday afternoon two people were detained for 45 minutes by six police officers (including two armed officers) and threatened with arrest under the Terrorism Act. Their crime? Buzzing the doorbell of Heckler & Koch‘s Nottingham office. The pair were released without charge.


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