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Smash EDO accused of hijacking Brighton and Hove's Olympic Torch celebration
6:00pm Wednesday 27th June 2012 in News
Protest group Smash EDO has been accused of trying to hijack another city celebration.
The anti-arms demonstrators say they plan to “inspect” the EDO MBM factory in Moulsecoomb on the same day as the Olympic Torch comes to Brighton and Hove.
Smash EDO has claimed its decision on the timing of the mass action, planned for 1pm, had no connection with the Olympic celebration.
However their timing has been criticised.
In a statement on their website, the group said: “Smash EDO wish it to be known that other events that may happen to be taking place in the city that day are of no interest to the group.
Our intention is, as ever, only to disrupt the Arms Industry and those who |support its continued existence.”
Conservative Councillor Vanessa Brown said: “First it was the Jubilee, now it’s the Olympic Torch ceremony.
“It’s such a shame that Smash EDO feel the need to try and hijack these fantastic events that are taking place in our city in order to further their own political goals.
“Residents I speak to |are incredibly excited about the Olympic Torch passing through the city and I’m confident that they won’t be put off by Smash EDO’s latest pathetic publicity stunt.”
The protest group has cost the city hundreds of thousands of pounds in policing bills and claim the arms factory in Home Farm Road manufactures weapons components used in illegal military action in the Middle East – a claim the company has always denied.
Sussex Police called for the activists to discuss their plans with them so that |both events can be held safely.
A spokesman said: “We are aware of this statement and policing arrangements will be made accordingly.
“We would like the organisers to contact us so that we can discuss their plans and help facilitate any peaceful protest.”
Smash EDO has a long history of action against the factory, including in January 2009 when a group of protestors managed to infiltrate the site.
The activists smashed computers and other items in a bid to “decommission” the factory.
Seven were arrested and charged but cleared after a trial at Hove Crown Court in July 2010, when the activists said they were acting with "lawful excuse" during the break-in.
The group is also planning to picket outside Barclays Bank in North Street on Saturday at 1pm. It claims the bank is the high street’s biggest investor in arms.