Monday, March 24, 2008

Police Try to Stop EDO Film Screening

There is a company, EDO, that makes weapons including bomb-release mechanism that are used in places such as Iraq. It has a factory in Brighton, a place that was also named an 'International Peace Messenger City' - a title that was subsequently scrapped due to the EDO factory. In the meantime, a group of people acting for peace and around the idea that; "Every bomb that is dropped, every bullet that is fired in the name of this war of terror has to be made somewhere. And wherever that is, it can be resisted”.. created the campaign group 'Smash EDO' This campaign used various forms of protest and non-violent direct action to achieve its aims. The group, who quote both Gandhi and the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal following World War II as validity and inspiration to the campaign seemed to be doing quite well in getting the message out. And then the repression against the campaign began. Targets included UK Indymedia who received legal threats from lawyers Reynolds Porter Chamberlain in 2005 over articles posted on the site;

"We act for EDO MBM Technology Limited. Our client has become aware of false and defamatory information about our client that has been posted on your website at
We refer in particular to the statements that our client "war-mongers", is "complicit in the deaths of innocent people" and makes "things to kill children" ...Provided that you comply with our client's requirements, our client will refrain from commencing proceedings against you for libel in respect of your unlawful activities to date, although, of course, our client reserves all its rights in the event of any breach by you of the undertaking."

Indymedia stood its ground and their lawyers ultimately withdrew the writ. There has also been massive police complicity with the bomb-makers with arbitrary arrests and detentions of protesters on flimsy pretenses - until the whole sordid affair began to unravel;

After evidence came to light in the High Court that Sussex Police may have colluded with EDO Corporation to exaggerate the threat posed by demonstrators to the safety of employees, defence solicitors in related criminal cases began to investigate further. Then in what appeared to be a domino effect, the Crown Prosecution Service proceeded to drop all criminal charges, against all protesters, in all related cases, in an effort to protect the confidentiality of internal Sussex police documents which may have helped defendants prove such collusion had taken place.

Complicity that continues to this day. With echos of the whole 'Injustice' film saga, the film made about the protests, 'On The Verge' was canceled after Sussex police pressured the venue. The police denied that they had anything to do with the censorship, then the council confirmed the police had and the police had to scrabble around to make their lies fit the facts. Not only this, but the police have been busy putting pressure on screenings in Bath, Southampton, Oxford and Chichester too!

One of the venue people who had found their planned event canceled remarked;

“I grew up in South Africa and this feels awfully familiar. This has nothing to do with protecting the public - this is nothing but censorship”.

Indeed. This is all against a backdrop of a company that seems to be able to flout the law, gets a personal police censorship service and is still loosing money;

Last week EDO MBM published their 2006 accounts nearly five months late, a criminal offense under the Companies Act.....As a result financial business information firm Creditgate now list the company under a maximum risk credit rating of ZERO and colour code of RED for danger....The 2006 accounts that were signed and ready to file in August 2007 are particularly embarassing for the company as they reveal a year end loss of (£497,000) down from the 2005 profit of £923,000- a plunge of around 150%. A exceptional expense item (£842,000) is blamed on the closure of EDO RUGGED Ltd, a subsidiary of EDO MBM that was closed in 2006, but the cost coincides with a massive unexpected payout by the company when their high court injunction bid against anti-war protesters failed in the same year. However no mention is made of this legal cost in the accounts, while parent firm EDO Corp accounts for the same year refer to legal costs of $2.7million.

As was noted, the screening in Bath got pressured to close, but the Bath Activist Network made alternative plans to fight this censorship and screened the film anyway.

There is a screening due at the Kebele in Bristol on the 27th - will the cops try to close that one too?

No comments: