Smash EDO: Resisting our local arms dealers
Therezia Cooper from Smash EDO reports on the campaign to shut down the arms dealers
“Every bomb that it dropped, every bullet that is fired has to be made somewhere – and wherever that it, it can be resisted”
Smash EDO is a Brighton based anti-militarist campaign with a direct action slant which campaigns against the arms manufacturers EDO, now part of ITTExelis. The campaign’s motivations can, in short, be summed up by the quote above. We believe that by taking action against arms producers in your local community, you can put a spanner in the works of the global war machine. It is something everyone, everywhere can contribute to.
The campaign started in 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq, when activists found a press release confirming that weapons being used in Iraq were manufactured right on our door step. By then it was already obvious that all the mass outrage against the war had achieved very little beyond awareness raising, and many felt a need to do something more -to target the bottom line of the corporations that profited from this massacre. Around the same time some Brighton activists had returned from solidarity work in Palestine with the request from Palestinians on the ground that they do whatever they can in their local communities to stop the repression imposed on them by Israel. And so the Smash EDO campaign was born.
Who are EDO/ITT Exelis and what do they make?
In the early stages of the campaign EDO MBM was a subsidiary of the EDO Corporation – a US company that was a major supplier of Raytheon as well as an arms manufacturer in its own right. In December 2007, EDO Corporation was bought by the US arms conglomerate, ITT. In 2011, ITT split into three parts and EDO are now part of ITT Exelis.
The EDO site in Brighton make what, in layman’s terms, can be described as bomb release mechanisms and components for bomb racks. Essentially, their products are crucial for bombs to be dropped. Theysupply parts for the Paveway series of laser-guided bombs – which were the most used guided munitions in the aerial bombardment of Iraq- as well as components for F16s used by Israel. They own the rights to the VER-2 bomb rack and the Zero Retention Force Arming Unit. The biggest contracts they have had lately have been for Field Replaceable Connector System (FRCS), which are destined for the F35 fighter jets through arms giant Lockheed Martin. Their components also appear in the reaper predator drone -increasingly used during assassinations in Pakistan and Yemen.
What does Smash EDO do?
Smash EDO is dedicated to taking action against these weapons being produced in any way possible and through the years there have been a great diversity of tactics being used up at the factory and beyond. Examples include, rooftop occupations, blockades of gates and roads, readings of the names of the dead, critical mass rides, “weapons inspection”, sabotage, die-ins, surprise noise demos, streettheatre, art exhibitions, car park invasions, lock-ons of delivery vehicles, phone blockades, mass demos in central Brighton, actions against Barclays (the market makers of ITT Exelis on the NYSE) and even a decommissioning of the factory.
The campaign have had a few victories along the way. For instance, the company lost around £1 million when they tried, and failed, to get an injunction against protests happening around their factory during the first few years of the campaign, and a second EDO location in Fishersgate is now no longer run by them.
The biggest victory of the campaign so far came after the decommissioning, where activist broke in to the factory and smashed it up to the best of their abilities in response to the Israeli operation Cast Lead massacre in Gaza in 2009. After a three and a half week trial, where the managing director spent over four days under cross examination, the decommissioners were acquired by a Brighton jury as their actions had been taken as a last resort to prevent war crimes.
The back bone of the campaign are the noise demos, which have taken place outside the factory once a week since the campaign’s inception. They are not always big, or particularly eventful, but they are a constant reminder for the people working there that what is happening in that factory is not forgotten by the local community.
How to get involved
Despite the successes we are aware that making a dent in the profits of the arms trade is not easy. We never thought that a few big marches could stop a war, but believe that it takes more than that to make an impact. We always need more people to get involved and with a possible attack on Iran in the pipeline, your resistance is needed! Were there to be an attack on Iran there is no doubt that components supplied by EDO will be used.
The easiest way of getting involved is to pop up to one of the weekly noise demos. They happen outside the EDO factory on Home Farm Road between four and six every Wednesday. Home Farm Road is located off the Lewes Road, just by Moulsecoomb train station.
This summer Smash EDO are having a Summer Of Resistance against the factory. The idea is for as many people or groups as possible to pick a day when they want to protest in whatever way they like up at the factory, and to intensify protest over three months starting on the 1st of May. If you have any ideas or want us to come and have a chat with you and your affinity group just let us know. There are also a series of announced dates for everyone to come along to, which can be found on our web-site.
Whatever your interests there is space for you in the campaign. Don’t like the idea of super gluing yourself to a gate? Come and play some annoying music at the ‘mad music’ noise demo. Too shy to shout at arms dealers over the megaphone? Help us design a flyer. Bored by vigils? Lock-on to a delivery van…All involvement is important.
Hope to see you at the factory!
For upcoming dates during the Summer of Resistance click here.
To watch ‘On the Verge’, the feature length film about the campaign see here.
Get in touch!
If you want to be on our mailing list or just have some questions, do get in touch:
E-mail: [email protected]