Five Sumud supporters attended the protest against the Israeli-owned Elbit Systems UAV factory in Shenstone on 6 July. Arriving at 7.00am the road was already blocked by police at each side of the factory although pedestrians could pass freely. Protestors were already well ensconced and later in the day various workshops were planned. As more people arrived these experienced difficulty getting off the ground but there was an attempt at kite making. A private security company tried to hand out an injunction, naming the 9 rooftop protesters from last year and any persons unknown who were within 250 metres of the factory. We were advised to avoid accepting an injunction and I found the security officers did not persist if one politely declined to accept one!
From my perspective everything was relatively good humoured in the first hours but may well have hotted up after we left at around 11 o’clock. Mushier al-Farra, probably the only Palestinian from Gaza who was there, took charge of a microphone and led the chanting against the factory. We were told that the workers had stayed in the factory all night. Certainly the only people entering and exiting were in cars.
Whilst we were there the police were intent on pushing us back very gradually and moving those sitting on the ground. If a protestor let their body go floppy their removal was rougher. If a protestor was merely lifted to their feet and allowed themselves to be led to the side of the road the process was relatively aright. If there was pushing and shoving one or other side was more likely to get aerated and hurt.
I’ve since learned that there were 19 arrests and protesters were detained for 24 hours but, at the time of writing, the police had not decided on charges.
There were protestors at drone factories in Tamworth, Broadstairs and in Melbourne (Australia).
There was a letter in the Guardian the following day from Miriam Margolyes, Ilan Pappe, John Pilger, Alice Walker and others calling for the UK government to stop arming Israel by giving government licences to UAV Engines to export drone engines to Israel and to stop arming Israel.
I’m sure there will be more protests and I hope more people who deplore UK policy towards Israel will step up to the plate and join in.