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Wall Caper

Cordon Bennet! Police robo-kettle blockaded during Smash EDO weapons inspection demo

It was quite fitting that the police brought a barrier designed for use during chemical, biological and nuclear threats to a Weapons Inspection. Unfortunately it was facing the wrong way- the police had identified the 70 odd white-clad citizens' weapons inspection team as the clear and present danger, rather than the factory facilitating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

After the No Iran War demo in town last month, this was Smash EDO's "big one" aimed squarely at the infamous arms factory for the Summer of Resistance (or Downpour of Defiance as it's been unofficially renamed).

Around seventy people gathered at Brighton's Level to march up to EDO-MBM (now owned by evil mega-corp ITT-Excellis) to demand, Hans Blix style, that the factory open its gates and allow the inspectors in.

Sussex Police had drafted in re-inforcements from Kent Constabulary. As well as the usual overkill of riot cops and horses, they had also brought along their latest weapon in the War on Peace – the Cobham CBRN Tactical Communications and Surveillance Integrated Solutions©. With the words "Police Cordon" euphemistically emblazoned on the front, the 'Cobham Solutions' is a high tech sounding name for what's essentially a steel wall on wheels with cctv and antenae, and, as Wikileaks revealed, was marketed back in 2010 as an crowd control device to be used during domestic WMD threats.

As Privacy International explain, "Tools and technology created and purchased for one purpose are often ultimately used for another; this kind of "mission creep" is particularly pervasive in the surveillance context, where technologies that are initially intended for use only in the most serious national security cases gradually enter regular policing.

[As an aside it's worth mentioning that Privacy International wrote the above article after having seen the picture that SchNEWS tweeted out from the demo whilst the demo was still kicking off. It's nice to know that the civilian side has got an intelligence gathering infrastructure that's at least as good and probably better than the other side.]

This wasn't the first outing for the CBRN Solutions. It was "unveiled" by the Met at last year's N30 strike, but before that had been used by Leicestershire Police for separating the EDL and anti-fascist protesters, by South Wales Police to separate Cardiff and Swansea football fans and by Greater Manchester Police at the Tory conference.

The CBRN Solutions has been described by a police operator as “a Transformer” and it in fact morphs from a semi-trailer into a general purpose Kettle-Bot (Coptimus Prime?). Judging by this clip here, it's invention may have been inspired by the cult classic Soylent Green. According to both the company's own literature, as well as Privacy International, it comes equipped with an “IMSI catcher” that can intercept and monitor mobile phone calls. This task can be performed at the same time as kettling a crowd, freeing up officers to randomly beat up and murder protesters and passers-by (or, just as likely in these austere times, free up officers for the sack in the next round of public service cuts).

But as any evil mastermind will tell you, futuristic gadgetry is only as good as its operators, and in this case the CBRN Solutions had the misfortune to be operated by the consistently halfwitted, bumbling plods at Sussex Police. Sussex Plod suffered a major intelligence failure on the day. Under the noses and all seeing electronic eyes of the police, activists snuck lock on tubes disguised as missiles and bombs to the front of the demo where five of them locked onto the barrier itself, turning Robo-Cop into Robo-Block. Traffic to and from the arms factory was stopped dead for as long as the activists wanted.

Eventually of course the police cutting teams arrived and by the end of the day there were ten arrests- one for suspected breach of bail, four for breach of section 14 and five for obstructing a public highway.

Andrew Beckett, long-time spokesperson for the campaign (who unfortunately could not attend the demo due to an attack of the vapours) had this to say, “Even though we announced what we were going to do and where we were going to march we still managed to outwit the police. As we couldn't search the factory for illegal weapons we did the next best thing and blockaded it. The police conveniently provided us with a barrier to help us delay these weapons from leaving EDO and making their way into the hands of terrorist regimes such as our own.”



twitter @smash_edo


Citizens' Weapons Inspectors gather at the Level
locked-on target
protesters' reinforced banner hopelessly outclassed by the police steel one
There is 1 comment on this story...
Added By: pinewomble - 18th August 2012 @ 1:34 AM
great story - thanks for keeping us posted
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Twitter: @SchNEWS