No to Nuclear

The theme for Wednesday’s protests outside the DSEI arms fair was ‘Arms to Renewables – No to Nuclear’, and as I arrived a street theatre group began their performance of a playlet in which the audience rejected the collusion between Theresa May and an arms dealer to sell missiles for use in Yemen and demanded instead that we promote renewable energy, with two actors tranforming the missile into a wind turbine. It was difficult to photograph as the audience were clustered closely around the performers and so I had to work very close – and for some things even the 18mm of my 18-35 zoom wasn’t wide enough. I would have done better to switch to the 16mm fisheye, but it was so crowded it would have been tricky to get at my bag and change lenses without elbowing peole on both sides.

After that came some poetry, not generally a great subject for still photography, and I wandered around taking pictures of the various banners and posters, including a large Sadiq Khan declaring his opposition as Mayor to an arms fair in London. Then I was told there was a lock-on at the West Gate, and made my way – two stops on the DLR to photograph there.

Three people were joined together with their arms linked through two large boxes which seemed to be filled with pitch and metal grids which were taking the police special unit a great deal of effort to remove without injuring those locked together. While a couple of the police worked away, the rest crowded around, mainly it seemed to prevent photographers from getting a clear view – and at times there were certainly some officers who deliberately moved to block my view, though there were moments when most moved away. One or two protesters did rush in to take pictures before police removed them, but I decided I needed to cooperate with the police.

When they had broken up the first of the two boxes and arrested the person who was freed from the lock-on the police took a rest. The special team wanted to leave the remaining two linked together who were now at the side of the road and causing no obstruction, and only began to remove the second box after being told they must by the officer in charge. A crowd of supporters watched and gave encouragement to the two protesters while police struggled to separate them, and cheered them as police carried them away.

As the second of the three was being put into the police van, people started to move towards the Excel gates across the road, as another lock-on was taking place on the road inside the Excel site by two protesters who had made their way through a side pedestrian route. By the time I ran up the gates they were shut and I could only photograph through the mesh of the fencing from perhaps a hundred yards away. I went back to photograph the third protester being taken to the police van and then decided to return to the East Gate to see what was happening there.

The answer was yet another lock-on, and one that was likely to block the road for quite a while, with the special unit still busy at the other gate, and with all vehicle access to ExCeL blocked for several hours, the protesters were having a successful day. They were on the road with banners and singing and chanting and obviously there was no point in the police clearing them as the road was blocked by the lock-on. And as it looked as if little more would happen I decided it was time to leave for home.

Many more pictures at Protesters block DSEI arms fair entrances.



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