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category national | anti-war / imperialism | other press author Wednesday August 09, 2006 13:43author by anti war

War protesters storm raytheon
Up to 50 police involved in stand-off
By Brendan McDaid

from belfast telegraph

War protesters storm raytheon
Up to 50 police involved in stand-off
By Brendan McDaid

09 August 2006
Anti-war protesters today stormed American arms manufacturer raytheon's Londonderry base, with nine people barricading themselves into the building and wrecking equipment.

The protesters were soon locked in a tense stand-off with upwards of 50 police officers, after some of them inflicted considerable damage, especially to computers.

According to the protesters, the computer system was "completely disabled".

Amid chaotic scenes at the Buncrana Road site, thousands of documents and dozens of computers were burned and thrown from windows by members of a group that entered the building at 8am today.

Among those who entered the premises to protest against the world's largest missiles manufacturer was veteran civil rights campaigner Eamonn McCann.

An American flag was also set alight and a glass door smashed as debris rained down from a second floor window and littered the area outside.

A banner was unfurled from inside the building, reading "raytheon has been decommissioned".

A dozen more people protesting over the deaths of Lebanese civilians remained outside, with placards bearing anti-war and anti-raytheon slogans.

Speaking from inside the complex, as dozens of uniformed police gathered, Mr McCann said: "The people of Derry cannot go on feeling shock and horror as they watch TV screens and do nothing,

"I certainly would not welcome an arrest and prosecution, who would? But judgment has to be made, people felt they had no option but to take this form of direct action."

Fellow anti-war protester and member of Socialist Environmental Alliance Goretti Horgan, who was one of those protesting outside the building at the Ulster Science and Technology Park on Buncrana Road, said: "There is a bit of property damage but that is as nothing compared to the thousands of people dying.

"We had to do the damage in order to get a chance to put raytheon in the dock. We want to try and stop or slow down raytheon production even for a short while because any kind of delay to getting bombs to Israel to drop on innocent Lebanese and Palestinian people has to be welcomed."

Around 50 police were on the premises both inside and out as the protest developed.

There were minor scuffles as police tried to prevent people leaving the scene without being searched and a police cordon was erected around the building, with the protesters pushed back and informed that the area was a crime scene.

A spokeman for raytheon said this morning that the company is not making any comment "on this particular occasion".

The protest was the latest in a line of actions taken against the arms giant by anti-war protesters in Derry.

In March 2003, 12 people invaded the premises and conducted a short sit-in.

raytheon is the world's fourth largest arms manufacturer and the largest missile manufacturer. It developed Tomahawk Cruise, Hellfire and Patriot missiles and related software currently being used in the war on Iraq.

The company was brought to Derry as part of Northern Ireland's "peace dividend" following the ceasefires after a lobby by politicians.

However raytheon's presence in the city has led to numerous protests and it warned jobs would be lost if the protests - which included a "grave digging" ceremony in November 2004 - continued.

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