Four arrests as latest Smash EDO protest comes to city centre

Posted On 18 Jan 2010 at 8:24 pm

Smash EDO protesters were kettled, or held in a cordon by police, for up to an hour this afternoon after their protest march moved from Moulsecoomb to the North Laine.

The “funeral march” started in Wild Park, near EDO’s Home Park Road factory, at 1pm this afternoon.

About 300 protesters later moved to the city centre, culminating in the police barricade in North Road.

Four people were arrested for public order offences, and police hit out at the “intimidating” behaviour of the demonstrators – and said the lack of cooperation by organisers meant the cost of policing it was much higher than other peaceful protests.

Brighton and Hove City Commander, Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett said: “Once again, during a demonstration organised by Smash EDO, we have seen intimidating behaviour and sporadic outbreaks of disorder within Wild Park, Home Farm Road and the city centre.

“Members of public including many visitors trying to go about their normal business have clearly been frightened by the behaviour of a small minority of protesters and many have faced disruption.

“As at 7pm, there were four arrests for public order offences. We will continue to investigate any other offences that have occurred and where possible bring those responsible to justice.

“We aimed to facilitate peaceful protest, safeguarding the public and minimising disruption, and made concerted efforts to engage with the organisers about their intentions today. Once again, for future events, I urge those who wish to hold demonstrations in the city to abide by the law and notify the police of their intentions in advance so that jointly we can plan a safe but visible event which respects their right to protest and others rights to go about their business free from intimidation and violence.

“The officers involved in policing today’s demonstration are the same officers who work in our local communities providing the policing service expected of us. We would all rather see them helping to resolve local issues in their neighbourhoods. We are used to policing larger demonstrations than this with far fewer officers due to the organisers engaging with us and being part of the planning process.”

However, Smash EDO had a very different view of events. Spokeswoman Chloe Marsh said: “Smash EDO hailed today’s ‘Remember Gaza’ demonstration as a great success.

“More than 300 people turned out to commemorate the anniversary of the aerial bombardment of Gaza with banners and symbolic coffins.

“A dynamic crowd broke free from police control and streamed through the woods to surround the factory from three sides.

“The factory, target of a long running campaign by the Smash EDO protest group, was surrounded in a symbolic re-enactment of the siege of Gaza.

“The fact that this weapons’ components factory was forced to close for a day is a fitting memorial to the 1417 murdered victims of the aerial bombardment of Gaza.

“The crowd was able to keep mobile and lively, finishing with an impromptu street party in central Brighton. At the time of release there were five arrests and several minor injuries.”

The protest was held to mark the anniversary of the end of the Gaza War – and targeted the EDO factory in Home Park Road as the demonstrators believe it supplies weaponry components to the Israeli Government, claims the company denies.

The Argus detailed the progress of the march in this live blog. Here’s what Tweeters in the city centre made of it – and here’s a gallery of pictures on Flickr by James Devonport, Heather Buckley and Josh Jones.

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