Derry anti-war protesters, including Eamonn McCann, arrested after Raytheon occupation
by Simon Basketter
Nine anti-war protesters, including socialist and civil rights campaigner Eamonn McCann, are in jail in Northern Ireland for occupying an arms manufacturer
The demonstrators stormed the Derry base of US arms manufacturer Raytheon on Wednesday 9 August, barricading themselves into the building.
Raytheon produce software for Guided Missile Units (GBU) currently being used by Israel’s army in its assault on Lebanon.
Raytheon’s computer system was "completely disabled", according to the protesters, and thousands of documents were thrown from windows. A banner was unfurled from inside the building, reading “Raytheon has been decommissioned”.
Speaking from inside as dozens of uniformed police gathered, Eamonn McCann said, “The people of Derry cannot go on feeling shock and horror as they watch TV screens and do nothing.
“People felt they had no option but to take this form of direct action.”
A statement from the Derry Anti-War Coalition reads, “The protest was prompted by the current barbaric Israeli assault on Lebanon and Gaza, which has claimed over thousand lives in just a few weeks. Many of the innocent lives lost have resulted from the use of GBUs produced by Raytheon.
“It is tragic that the Raytheon factory was held up at the time of its opening as an example of the ‘peace dividend’ for the North, when its function is exporting death and destruction to innocent people in Lebanon.
“The Irish people have a witnessed first hand the brutality and conflict brought by colonialism and empire. We should be playing no part in inflicting that suffering on others.
“Given the carnage we are now witnessing in Lebanon and Gaza there is simply no excuse for such weapons of death being produced.”
After eight hours the occupation was ended by over 100 riot police storming the building.
Speaking from the back of a police Land Rover at Strand Road police barracks after being arrested, a handcuffed Eamonn McCann said, “They came in riot gear and surrounded us in the room. We were playing cards at the time. We were arrested for burglary and criminal damage.”
On Thursday 10 August morning a crowd of several dozen people gathered at the court in Derry, chanting anti-war slogans as they awaited the arrival of the police convoy carrying the protesters.
The nine anti-war activists were charged overnight with aggravated burglary with intent to cause unlawful damage. They were also charged with unlawful assembly.
These charges are "scheduled" offences under “anti-terrorist” legislation, meaning that the cases can be heard by juryless Diplock Court.
All nine were remanded in custody until 7 September when they will appear before the same court via videolink.