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PROTESTERS blocked access today to an arms factory in Derbyshire where tear gas and rubber bullets are manufactured for use on demonstrators worldwide.
Organised by Extinction Rebellion, Women of Colour — Global Women’s Strike and Global Justice Rebellion, the protest prevented vehicles from entering the PWD Group’s factory.
A parallel protest took place outside the Department for International Trade in central London, demanding that it stop licensing exports of “riot control” materials.
Britain has multiple factories exporting tear gas and rubber bullets globally, including to the United States, where at least 100 law enforcement agencies have used some form of tear gas on civilians protesting against police brutality and racism, according to US media reports.
At least 20 people have suffered traumatic eye injuries after being hit by rubber bullets during the protests across the US in recent weeks, sparked by the brutal police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Former Metropolitan Police detective sergeant Paul Stephens, who took part in the protest in London, said: “We sell coal to our neighbours, yet boast about phasing out coal power stations in the UK. We sell weapons of war, yet live in relative peace.
“We export tear gas and rubber bullets to violently suppress Black Lives Matter protests in the US and pro-democracy protests [sic] in Hong Kong, yet in 30 years of police work I have never seen them deployed on London streets. We put profit above life and it is time for this to stop.”
Protester Jacqueline Bond said that while schools teach children that justice and democracy are British values, people who fight for such values globally suffer bodily harm from products supplied by British companies.
The London teacher added: “We are facing an intersection of global crises: climate breakdown, Covid-19, racial injustice and economic inequality are all driving ordinary people to take to the streets, many of them young people.
“Their right to protest peacefully and make their voices heard, without the use of harmful weapons by security forces, must be protected.
“The UK must cease to facilitate this erosion of the right to protest.”
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