Saturday, December 15, 2007

No Christmas Cheer as Arms Giant Lockheed Gets Locked Out

Lockheed Martin, whose corporate slogan is “We never forget who we’re working for”, was paid a visit on Thursday morning by a group of non-violent activists from a Trident Ploughshares affinity group called the Muriel Lesters, and London Catholic Worker.

The group chained shut and blocked off all the entrances to the building for 45 minutes, from around 8am.

The anonymous building (Manning House, 22 Carlisle Place, London. SW1P 1JA), hidden away in a side street near Victoria station, houses the UK corporate headquarters of the arms giant, which makes Trident nuclear weapons (warheads and missiles) and produces surveillance systems used by intelligence services to spy on the public and for commercial espionage.

Several banners and placards were on display, including one that read “Lockheed Martin - Nuclear Crime Scene”, and workers and visitors to the building were leafleted, as well as passers by.

A crowd of workers and visitors trying to gain access to the building had gathered on the pavement within a quarter of an hour.

Several accepted leaflets.

Belgravia police were called to deal with the protesters.

There was a delay as the police awaited bolt-cutters and back-up, but the chains were eventually removed from the front door, after which the protesters blocking the back entrances, including an elderly lady in a wheelchair, decided to unchain the doors and move round to the front.

Police were admitted to the building for discussions, but no arrests were made (either of the peace campaigners or the arms dealers). The protesters were allowed to continue demonstrating and leafleting peacefully outside the building, until finally leaving of their own accord at 9.30am.

Father Martin Newell, a Catholic priest from east London, says: “I feel it is my duty as a Christian to follow the prince of peace and oppose the horror of nuclear weapons.”

Myra Garrett from east London says: “I felt I had to target the company because of the new nuclear weapons facilities they are developing right here in the UK, at Aldermaston.”

Chris Gwyntopher from east London says: “the building had to be closed in the interests of public security and world peace. Unlike Lockheed, I feel my purpose is to save life, not destroy it. I wish the workers would leave the building for good and seek more humane employment.”

Irene Willis from Essex says: “Christmas seems an appropriate time of year to reflect upon the horrific effects the arms trade and nuclear weapons have in the world and to ask ourselves whether we really need them.”

The group intends to pay the company another visit in the near future.

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