Yesterday’s festivities involved terribly misguided activism and dubious crowd control. SmashEDO had not spoken with police or each other, and as such the demo began in the same way it finished – messily and with much confusion. Sussex Police escorted thirty people from a squat to Wild Park in a procession down Lewes Road involving about a hundred officers. The police kept them in a small group, where they chanted a bit and made horrible speeches. Meanwhile, hundreds of other demonstrators turned up unannounced, and about half an hour later everybody was running through the woods.
The police were firm but fair, so you can basically ignore any reports of brutality or undue lenience, but the demonstration passed largely without incident. One man decided he’d try to tackle a dozen policemen by himself – he was quickly overwhelmed and hauled off. One man was found with a “bladed article”. All the other arrested protesters were nicked to prevent a breach of the peace, not for actually doing anything. The police never found the pair who tried to glue themselves to RBS.
The whole fiasco yesterday seems to have left Brighton feeling relieved, but has also consolidated the city’s dim view of SmashEDO. The ENA tried to pick a fight with them on London Road, but even the rest of the city is more irritated by the protesters (and by the six-figure cost of the police operation) than by the presence of an arms factory. I don’t know if this is indicative of SmashEDO’s violent tactics or Britain’s ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality.
Who saw my Tweets? Many of my Tweets were rapidly ReTweeted, and I’m pleased that my legwork sped up the process just a tad. It goes to show how slow the Argus website is at reacting to stories – I was ahead of their game by about an hour and a half.