DISARM DSEi at Clarion

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

The above scene seemed to me one of the most bizarre I’ve photographed for quite a while, although so much so that it needs explanation.

A man is being escorted by an armed policeman into his offices past smiling demonstrators whose sole weapon is a plastic boomerang (not visible in this image) being wielded by a small child. It’s hard to penetrate the mindset that finds such an escort necessary.

But then it’s also hard to understand how people can live with themselves and arrange arms fairs to sell the weapons that kill so many around the world – including two million children  in the ten years from 1986-96 (according to UNICEF.) Armed police may make him feel safe against people holding banners, but surely do little to salve the conscience.  Probably this man goes home after work to his own children.  But of course the children who die aren’t like the child in this picture, or his own kids, but are largely black and in strife-torn countries a long way away.

The protest was against Clarion Events, organisers of many events including the world’s largest arms fair, DSEi, which is taking place at the ExCeL centre in East London next month. The 2007 show boasted over 1300 companies from 40 countries exhibiting weapons and related equipment to over 26,000 visitors, although the Space Hijackers were denied entry when they wanted to sell their tank there.

The many people who work in the area and stopped to talk to the demonstrators were surprised to find the connection with the arms fair. But then why should they, as the three companies named in large type on the signs beside the door are all diamond companies – and there is no mention of Clarion Events. If Clarion really feel they are doing nothing below board why do they hide?

More about the picket and a few more pictures on My London Diary, where I comment:

Only a few years ago we prided ourselves that our police were not armed; now they seem to want guns even to help old ladies across the road.

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