Police have conducted 6 raids on activists opposing the AOC 2021 Liverpool Arms Fair, according to direct action and solidarity group Palestine Action. The police action was part of a series of reprisals and seemed to be designed to intimidate activists and deter further opposition. Four of the raids were conducted at night, some with small children present. Police seized money, books and posters. A number of activists were arrested, including some who were not involved in actions.
The repression comes after Palestine Action activists occupied the council-owned ACC Arena, with two activists occupying the roof of the building on Monday – the night before the opening of the fair. Opposition to AOC arms fair is part of an ongoing campaign of direct action against companies complicit in the killing and maiming of civilians across the globe. In response to Monday’s occupation, Liverpool police instated a dispersal zone around the arms fair, preventing the residents of Liverpool from protesting the conference of death taking place in their city.
AOC describes itself as ‘an organisation for individuals who have common interests in Electronic Warfare (EW), Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Operations, Cyber Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA), Information Operations (IO), and other information-related capabilities.’ The fair hosted exhibitors from arms companies and featured speakers from across the military-industrial complex, including figures from the British armed forces and defence giants Raytheon. Elbit Systems, long a target of Palestine Action, was also an exhibitor at the event.
Police forces have a long ignoble history of defending arms fairs. In 2017 more than 100 protesters were arrested of a week of actions against the biannual DSEI arms fair in London. With the expected passing of the now-infamous police crackdown bill, likely in an even more restrictive form, we can expect even more restrictions on activists, further protecting the arms industry from the opposition. Such restrictions will require an increased capacity for organising from activists. If you aren’t already, get involved with the struggle.
Been arrested or know someone who was? Check out the resources at Green and Black Cross or get in touch with court supporters Activist Court Aid Brigade. For more on supporting activists facing police repression check out Palestine Action’s twitter for updates.