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Hundreds protest against east London arms fair

Anti-war campaigners blockaded one of the entrances to the ExCeL exhibition centre. Picture: CAAT Anti-war campaigners blockaded one of the entrances to the ExCeL exhibition centre. Picture: CAAT

Monday, September 9, 2013
11:22 AM

Protestors have taken to the streets to show their opposition to this year’s arms fair at the ExCeL exhibition centre.

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Although the four-day Defence & Security Equipment International event doesn’t open until tomorrow, campaigners were out in their hundreds yesterday as they staged a critical mass action which began in central London and made its way to the ExCeL exhibition centre in Custom House.

Although many set off on bikes, they were joined by hundreds on foot who flooded the area around the east gate of the exhibition centre where they gathered in an almost party atmosphere. Carrying colourful banners and a mock police tape bearing the words: Warning: Arms Trade At Work-This Is Not OK, they blocked the road.

Others carried placards bearing the messages “Spend Millions Helping People Not Killing People” and “Drones Kill Babies.”

A group took part in a die-in while others enjoyed an impromptu picnic under the watchful eyes of the police who arrested 18 people for obstruction after scuffles broke out.

Action by a coalition of groups opposed to the arms fair is also under way this morning as protestors gather at the Garden Cafe in Cundy Road, in Custom House before they set off for Royal Victoria DLR station in Victoria Dock Road to stage the Say No to the Game of Drones demonstration. The action is designed to coincide with a day-long drone conference.

A candlelit vigil will be held tonight at 6.30pm in Tidal Basin Road outside Royal Victoria DLR, in sight of the ExCeL exhibition centre.

The arms fair is held every two years and attracts tens of thousands of visitors from across the world who flock to the event which is attended by more than 1,400 exhibitors showcasing the latest military hardware.

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