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Report from Lockheed Martin HQ Shutdown (London, England)

category international | anti-war / imperialism | feature author Tuesday December 18, 2007 11:06author by Ciaron O'Reilly Report this post to the editors

featured image
Muriel Lesters block access to the London headquarters of Lockheed Martin

Well apparently they weren't all Grannies,

......but they were definitely ragin' in the best nonviolent sense and it certainly was an interesting demographic that kept knocking on the London Catholic Worker (LCW) door the previous night. Knocking for a meeting that was down at the Catholic Worker cafe. So my humble role of redirecting more militant traffic in the direction of the last fine tuning meeting remained constant.

I got to play a minimal support role. Did my best to maximise the support by dragging along Amy the Aussie visiting the LCW from Perth's Peace Tree community, my cousin heading to work near Victoria and Amanda visiting London from Dublin. Admittedly the cousin and Amanda didn't know what they were going to before they got there, but hey these are the high security "need to know" norties we're operating in!

The action faction were the Muriel Lester's affinity group of the Trident Ploughshares 2000 network - that's one network that has no sense of their use by date! This affinity group, most of whom are in their '60's & '70's, have no concept of a use by date on their activist lives. 40 year old Fr. Martin Newell, Passionist priest & London Catholic Worker appeared quite youthful in such company.

It was a chilly morning alrighty as we assembled outside Victoria Station at 7.30 am. Around 8am we hit a critical mass of double figures and made our move. The wheelchair picked up speed and as we hit Lockheed HQ folks spread out. The front entrance was chained shut and those risking arrest disappeared from view around the back to chain and block other exits & entrances. They were really serious about shutting this building down! I was directed to stand on my lonesome at the secured public entrance holding a "Lockheed Martin Nuclear Crime Scene" sign. As Lockheed staff arrived, and began failing to access their usual entrance to their daily grind of WMD production, I tried to muster all my charm to greet, engage and offer leaflets.

The central London Headquarters of U.S. arms firm Lockheed Martin (slogan "We never forget who we're working (murdering/spying) for!") is an anonymous building (Manning House, 22 Carlisle Place , London . SW1P 1JA), hidden away in a side street near Victoria Station. In Britain, Lockheed Martin makes Trident nuclear weapons (warheads and missiles) and produces surveillance systems used by intelligence services to spy on the public and for commercial espionage.

Belgravia police were called by Lockheed and arrived at the front entrance with quite a flourish. They found the door chained shut, pretty much me on my lonesome and a growing number of disrupted Lockheed Martin workers. Those risking arrest who had chained the front door and strung up a banner were now around the back outta sight outta mind (of the police) securing the building from any possibility of business as usual.

The police initially assumed I was fully responsible for the disruption. I assured them I had just got here before them to be pleasantly surprised by finding the front doors chained. I hoped they would be pleasantly surprised too, they weren't! I humbly declined responsibility for such a serious disruption to the business of Lockheed Martin. I offered one officer a leaflet, he brusquely declined. I said "This could be an important piece of evidence!" He enthusiastically accepted the leaflet.

More police arrived and then finally more police with boltcutters. After 45 minutes the chains were snipped and the Lockheed Martin employees made their entrance to produce what? Anything that will satisfy human needs - food, shelter, nourishment - no they have harnessed their intelect and labour for production of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Once the building was accessible the folks blocking access around the back came to the front maintaining vigil, leafletting employees and passers by until 9.30 am.

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

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

Chris Gwynthopher, Quaker from east London, stated: “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 blockader from Essex stated: “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.”

My cousin said, "Wow that was interesting, meet you for a pint tomorrow!"

Aussie Amy said, "I haven't done this before, must try this back in Perth!"

The Trident Ploughshares affinity group structure and praxis has always impressed me - whether it be with the high risk disarmament actions, the mass blockades at Faslane or these more decentralised interventions around England and Scotland on varied points of the nuclear war assembly line. Non-violence, direct democracy & direct action can't beat 'em as organising principles. Trident Ploughshares (they dropped the 2000 with the passing of the millenium!), ten years old and still going strong.

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

Notes:

1. Lockheed Martin , Serco and - currently - British Nuclear Fuels Plc (BNFL) are equal shareholders in AWE Management Ltd, which the UK Ministry of Defence has awarded a multi-billion pound contract to manage and operate the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield, both in Berkshire , until at least 2025. This is where Britain's nuclear weapons are developed and maintained.

2. Lockheed Martin promotes itself thus:

“Our vision: As an increasing number of nations of all sizes around the world indicate the desire and capacity to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, it is necessary to expand our field of vision.

“Our aim: To sustain capability to design a warhead to succeed Trident by facilitating production of British nuclear warheads.

“Our priorities: The key elements of the science-based programme we are putting in place to maintain the country’s nuclear stockpile.

“Our future: We can now look forward to a long-term stable future for AWE and for the UK nuclear weapons programme.”

Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest arms company. Besides nuclear weapons, it produces a host of killing and spying machines, devices and systems, including ‘bunker buster’ bombs, cluster bombs and landmines.

The company also provides military interrogators for places like Guantanamo Bay and Iraq . It is also a leading partner in the Echelon global surveillance network. Its employees work alongside the American NSA (National Security Agency) at Menwith Hill spy station in Yorkshire .

See the following for details of the above: http://censusalert.org.uk/lockheed_martin.html

As well as being one of two lead bidders for the 2011 UK Census (see http://censusalert.org.uk/ and http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/05/09/census_boycott/ ), Lockheed Martin also has civilian contracts in the UK with: Metropolitan Police Service, Transport for London, Network Rail, Railways - Positive Train Control, Royal Mail

More info on Lockheed Martin from Schnews

The company’s corporate websites:
http://www.lockheedmartin.com
http://www.lockheedmartin.co.uk

3. Trident Ploughshares is committed to bringing about the disarmament of British nuclear weapons through peaceful non-violent direct action. They call upon the British government to stop deploying its submarine-launched Trident nuclear weapons system with immediate effect, safely decommission every one of its warheads as soon as practicable, reverse its decision to renew / replace its (US-dependent) Trident system, and insist that the UN adopt a global Nuclear Weapons Convention outlawing all nuclear weapons at the very earliest opportunity.

Reports on recent Trident Ploughshares actions against Lockheed Martin (Oct 2007):
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/10/384043.html
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/10/384284.html

Reports and pics from Trident Ploughshares London ‘weapons inspections’ earlier this year (Feb 2007), which included Lockheed Martin:
http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1485
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/02/363646.html

Reports from previous Trident Ploughshares actions at Lockheed Martin’s UK headquarters:
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/10/384043.html
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/09/351270.html
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/06/314195.html
http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1248
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/oxford/2004/12/3....html

author by redjadepublication date Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

details still coming in - feel free to add confirmed info
SMS from C.O'R:
'Mission Accomplished!
We just shutdown Lockheed Martin HQ in London with chains,
a Catholic Priest & bunch of raging grannies!
Lockheed make nukes Aldermaston!'

more info to come...

author by Fintan Lanepublication date Thu Dec 13, 2007 15:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Redjade, you got that on the other side of the continent? I received it in Dublin! He must have plenty of credit in that phone:)

Well done C.O'R and all those involved in this occupation! Let's hope it brings further attention to the immoral actions of this company.

author by MichaelY - iawmpublication date Thu Dec 13, 2007 15:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well done C. Our loss here is the antiwar movement's gain acrosss the water.
Solidarity
Fraternally

author by lulupublication date Thu Dec 13, 2007 19:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Excellent work all, & v interesting article & links.

author by DMpublication date Thu Dec 13, 2007 22:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's great to know that the CW are carrying on their great work in Britain!

author by Edward Horganpublication date Fri Dec 14, 2007 00:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Great work Ciaron and all involved.
Shutting down such war facilities even for a short while is an important achievement.
Now we need to shut down the Shannon Torture route, since our government is in denial. However, they seem to be getting a bit rattled! Bertie Ahern came very close to lying in the Dail when he said, as reported in Irish Indepedent 13 Dec p 17, that "there is no evidence of people, aeroplanes, or anything else associated with extraordinary rendition at Shannon airport" Not only is this an incorrect statement, it is arguably a deliberate falsehood, because it is inconceivable that Mr Ahern does not know that over 147 CIA "aeroplanes" very directly associated with extraordinary rendition were refuelled at Shannon airport. This is confirmed by the EU parliament TDIP committee investigating rendition.

Its enough to create a few raging grandads.

author by Tim Houriganpublication date Fri Dec 14, 2007 18:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nice report, with a healthy dose of humour and hope.
Well done to all involved.

author by Cath Morpublication date Fri Dec 14, 2007 21:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A Galway-based company, a spin-off from Galway University, does research for Lockheed.
http://www.entemp.ie/press/2005/20051006.htm

author by Martin - {uploaded from Eastern Frontier of EUroLand}publication date Sat Dec 15, 2007 15:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

http://www.londoncatholicworker.org/

Catholic Workers chaining Lockheed shut!
Catholic Workers chaining Lockheed shut!

Lockheed Martin - does what it says on the tin!
Lockheed Martin - does what it says on the tin!

Muriel Lesters block access
Muriel Lesters block access

Ol' Bill arrive
Ol' Bill arrive

wasn't me guv!
wasn't me guv!

author by Ciaronpublication date Sun Dec 16, 2007 12:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

1 photo at top
press release
scroll down....
7 more photos

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/12/387855.html

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/12/387855.html
author by Damien Moranpublication date Tue Dec 18, 2007 11:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

to all involved in this great action. Highlighting the fact that Lockheed Martin are the biggest and nastiest bastards around when it comes to the arms trade is important work. If only we had a bunch of grannies and grandads over here in Poland to do the same.

Related Link: http://www.peacenikhurler.blogspot.com
author by Ciaron - London Catholic Workerpublication date Tue Dec 18, 2007 16:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mmmm wow this is now a feature so it might be worth exploring a few themes.

The article began as an excited mobile phone text from me with an injection of flippant humour, where I described the Catholic Worker & Muriel Lesters as "Raging Graniies". One of the mutually excited recipients of my text slapped it up immediately on Irish indy as the action was still unfolding which is a great thing about indy.

I remember the Halloween night of the Shannon Banshees when the news went up on Irish Indy while the action was going down and the "security" was unaware of their presence airside at Shannon warport. Text updates, mobile phone photos and voice recording of the names of the war dead being read from Zelda (yep the same one here at Lockheed Martin HQ) and Elaine flowed from Shannon airside through the night. They were slapped up as comments on Irish indy. From memory. Irish insominacs and others in other time zones were slapping up comments before "security" woke up and were disaptched to bring Elaine and Zelda in frrom the Shannon Warport cold!

Anyways, I thought I better write an article for indy making a distinction between the Muriel Lesters & Catholic Worker affinity goup and the "Raging Grannies" who operate in the U.S. In writing, I lent heavy for my stats and references on the media release by the direct actionists and wrote from my perspective as a support person on the margins of this wonderful NVDA at Lockheed Martin's London HQ.

In reponse to the original text I recieved quite a few emails and texts to the effect... "please dispatch some Raging Grannies to Ireland/Polska/Hungary we need some!"

So why is there this demographic willing to do anti-war NVDA here (England/Scotland) and not these other places?

I think in terms of Ireland, there isn't the history of the anti-war NVDA of the anti-Vietnam '60's and the anti U.S. nuclear bases '80's to draw upon. This was evident when we organised around Shannon (02-07) and organised around the 3 ploughshares trials in Dublin - in a lot of ways it was like starting from scratch.

Most significantly in the anarchist/libertarian scene, Trident Ploughshares organised on affinity groups commited to direct democracy and nonviolence has been wonderful in terms of cross generational anti-war activism. A cross generational organising that is not always evident in a lot af anarchist/libertarian scenes. This is evident at the big big annual blockades at the gates of Faslane nuclear sub base (Scotland) and the trials that follow the more hi risk disarmament actions. In the meantime, folks might have affinity groups organised around age group, musical tastes, spirtual traditions, geographical location for the smaller acts of NVDA like this one at Lockheed Martin HQ. When they come together at the bigger blockades and trials they work well cross generationally.

The recent generation of anarchists in Ireland seem more formed by the anti-globalisation movement, than those of us who were initially politcised by the wars on Vietnam, Central America, East Timor etc, The connection has not been made that to have a robbery (global exploitatioin) you need to have the arms (neverending low intensity warfare, the threat of nuclear escalation, troops going through Shannon, the arms trade etc).

I guess the local community of Rossport was always going tho be more welcoming of NVDA than that of Shannon and that had its effect on what folks prioritised in terms of organising in Ireland.

Anyways nothing difinitive here just some further musings......

Related Link: http://www.londoncatholicworker.org
author by Irene Jailed - Muriel Lesters Trident Ploughsharespublication date Tue Dec 18, 2007 19:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

*Irene Willis is pictured above wearing mult colored socks, sitting on the ground blocking access to Lockheed Martin HQ

Pensioner Jailed for Opposing Trident Nuclear Weapons

IRENE WILLIS , a 62-year-old peace activist from Southend, Essex was today sentenced to seven days' imprisonment by City of Westminster Magistrates ’ Court for refusing to pay a fine of £50 (+ £50 court costs). The fine was for deliberately obstructing traffic around Parliament Square during an anti-nuclear protest on 14th March 2007 , the day Parliament voted to replace Trident, despite a huge Labour backbench rebellion.

Anti-nuclear campaigners argue that by agreeing to replace its Trident nuclear missile-carrying submarines, and constructing new facilities to enable the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons at Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire, the Government is in breach of a number of laws and international treaties [1]. One of these is the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by Britain in 1968, which commits the then recognised nuclear states, including Britain , to act in good faith to decommission their existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons and not seek to develop new ones.

At the same time, Britain continues to condemn Iran for its uranium enrichment programme, despite there being no evidence of an intended military use. Britain also joined the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 under the pretext that Saddam Hussein was thought to possess weapons of mass destruction, none of which have ever been found.

Ms Willis, who is also an environmental campaigner, is unrepentant: “although I have been found guilty of a ‘crime’, I must ask why, if we are all equal under the law, the British government is not also put on trial for breaking international law.

“Regardless of today's outcome, I will continue to challenge the state, which is committing itself to spending up to 100 billion pounds of taxpayers’ money renewing a nuclear weapons system which ministers say they intend never to use. Two-thirds of this sum would be enough to reduce our carbon emissions by the 90% needed to avert climate catastrophe.

“I would ask anyone who feels we should not have nuclear weapons to take a moment to write to their MP and suggest that they vote against any new nuclear missiles or warheads. The majority of the population does not support nuclear weapons, and the Scottish Parliament strongly opposes them, so let’s aim to remove this threat in 2008.”

Irene is expected to serve her sentence at HMP Holloway.

ENDS

Notes for editors:

1. Laws and international treaties contravened by continued possession of, or threat to use, nuclear weapons:

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) - came into force in 1970
Hague Convention 1899, 1907
Geneva Protocol 1925
UN Charter 1945
Geneva Convention 1949
Nuremberg London Charter 1945/6
Genocide Act 1969
Additional Protocol 1977
Manuals of Military Law

author by Ciaronpublication date Thu Dec 20, 2007 01:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

LINK-Photo of Irene's Arrest & Local Newspaper Report on Her Jailing!
http://www.echo-news.co.uk/display.var.1914081.0.0.php

*Irene Willis who is pictured above doing the Lockheed Martin HQ Lockdown is presently jailed for earlier nonviolent resistance to British nuclear war preperations.

If you would like to send a solidarity letter or postcard of support to Irene and maximise your chances of your correspondence getting to her write

Irene Willis
c/- LCW
16 De Beauvoir Rd.
London N1 5SU
...and we will redirect the mail to her upon release!
Ciaron

Related Link: http://www.echo-news.co.uk/display.var.1914081.0.0.php
author by mepublication date Thu Jan 17, 2008 21:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lockheed Martin does good in the world, they have large healthcare programs in the US where they work with the federal government to research and cure infectious disease such as AIDS and they contribute to research for the National Cancer Institute, they dont just develop weapons. Plus, all countries should have a defence system, you're foolish to think otherwise!

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