Protesters blocked road outside London arms fair

| 9th September 2019
Protesters held seventh consecutive day of protest outside the Excel exhibition centre in East London in protest against the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair.

The arms companies arriving in London right now are fuelling conflicts around the world that are forcing people to flee. 

Police officers intervened yesterday after a group of protesters blocked a road outside of one of the world's largest arms fairs.

Around 200 protesters have held a seventh consecutive day of protest outside the Excel exhibition centre in East London in protest against the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair, which is set to open next week.

Shortly after 2.40pm on Sunday, a group of protesters from groups including Campaign Against Arms Trade and Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants blocked one of the roads near the exhibition centre, prompting officers from the Metropolitan Police to surround the demonstrators.

Exhibition

Officers were seen surrounding the activists as they stood in the road and physically moving two of the protesters from the highway, but no arrests were made.

Over the last week of protest, which is thought to have involved around 2,000 people, 113 people have been arrested for offences including aggravated trespass and obstruction of the highway.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson told the PA news agency: "The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) proportionately responds to any protest activity, balancing the rights of those protesting, with the rights of others to go about their normal business unaffected.

"While the MPS always aims to work with organisers to facilitate the right to protests, we also have a duty to minimise disruption so that other members of the public and local community can go about their day-to-day lives."

Activists have called for the end of the arms fair, which officially opens on Tuesday, and have blocked equipment from entering the exhibition centre.

Prevent

Sam Bjorn, from Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, told PA: "The arms companies arriving in London right now are not only fuelling conflicts around the world that are forcing people to flee, they are also selling the equipment that is militarising our borders and is killing people as they seek safety.

"We are here to defend the right of all people to seek sanctuary, or a better life, without fear of violence, detention and racist borders. We're here to say that migrants and refugees are welcome, arms dealers and oppressive regimes are not."

The four-day event is supported by the Ministry of Defence and includes the dealing of equipment such as warships, tanks and weaponry as part of one of the largest arms fairs in the world.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has told DSEI organisers that he would try and prevent the return of the event to east London in future years, in a letter seen by The Independent.

This Author

Jess Glass is a reporter with  PA.

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