H&K Shut Down For A Day

Blockade of Heckler & Koch in Nottingham, 18th Feb 2010The international sales office of arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch was shut down on Thursday 18th February by anti-arms-trade activists.

The six activists arrived at H&K’s Nottingham warehouse building before any employees turned up. Using D-locks and arm-tubes, one pair locked themselves to the staff entrance while another pair blockaded the goods gate. Meanwhile the other two gained access to the roof and hung anti-arms-trade banners on the front of the building.

One of the banners accused H&K of “arming repressive regimes” while the other, a German banner displayed in solidarity with anti-arms-trade campaigners from H&K’s home turf, translated as “arms exports are facilitating murder”.

This action succeeded in shutting the company down for the whole day. Employees and deliveries were turned away; the phones went unanswered; no arms deals were done. H&K Managing Director Mike Thornton arrived to personally ask the blockaders to leave but they remained in place until they were cut free by police specialists.

It took police six and a half hours to remove the blockade and nearly eight hours to get the protesters down from the roof. A supportive employee of the company next door to H&K tried to bring mugs of tea to the blockaders, but was prevented by police, who falsely claimed that they could use Section 14 of the Public Order Act to deny the protesters food and drink.

Rooftop occupation at Heckler & Koch, Nottingham, 18th Feb 2010Heckler & Koch was targeted for this action because of the company’s sales of weapons to armed forces that are known to commit human rights abuses, and because of the company’s licensing of other countries to manufacture H&K weapons – a strategy that allows the company to evade arms embargoes and profit from the sale of weapons to repressive regimes.

These concerns were set out in an open letter from the Shut Down H&K campaign to Heckler & Koch in December 2009. The company has yet to reply to the letter.

After being removed from the arms company’s premises, the six activists were arrested and taken to Nottingham’s Bridewell police station. They have been charged with Aggravated Trespass and subjected to bail conditions that prevent them from associating with each other. Their first court appearance will be on Tuesday 2nd March at 09:45 at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.

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20 comments to H&K Shut Down For A Day

  • Sarah Lasenby

    Great Action. I am so pleased that arms manufacturers are learning that the world does not need arms. Keep up the pressure.
    Although it will take time to get rid of war altogether this and the successful blockade of all seven gates as AWE Aldermaston three days before, shows just how many people are prepared to put themselves on the line for peace.
    War and weapons do not make peace – there is a better way.

  • Sam Quaker

    Bravo! Love the website too! Great bit of NVDA.

  • Les

    well done for persistence and returning 😉
    Les

  • Looks like a great action. Well done!

  • Well done! You are so good at this stuff in Britain. Here in Sweden we watch, learn and copy.

  • Alfred Nonymous

    Meanwhile, the holding company is being sued, and its shareholders for alleged fraud.

    See weblink:
    http://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/iscroll/SQLData.jsp?IndexNo=603522-2009

  • Hello~

    No matter what you do, weapons would still be manufactured, traded, and used to kill people. Do not tell me that you believe that you could stop all these things are happening.

    • Evey

      Whether or not we could actually stop weapons from being manufactured, traded and used to kill people, the people who do this must be opposed. It would be wrong to turn a blind eye to the people in our home town who profit from wars and human rights abuses.

  • Thomas Enfield

    I see how hk is arming human rights abusers, child soldiers and criminals. but rather than shut down hk you should work on getting them to fix there legal offices and try to get it so hk aren’t profiting from illicit arms trade. that would be better, because then deserving militarys would still have the weapons needed. i find it funny that izmach, the porducer of all kalashnikov weapons among others has a tighter grip on their more recently produced weapons.

    • Evey

      Tell you what Thomas, you tell us which militaries you think are “deserving”, and I’ll give you a list of the human rights abuses they are known to have committed.

      There is no boundary between the legal trade and the illegal trade in small arms. The weapons being used by child soldiers now are the weapons that were sold legally years ago.

      • Russle Jackson

        You probably dont care for my opinion since your an anti-militerist and im a mercenary, but i think you guys are wasting your time here. If you shut down this one building, so what, they have others. And since your against all guns, what are you going to do when your country has none and the “bad guys” try to take over. Good luck Defending yourself.

        • Evey

          If we shut down this building, it would be a serious blow for the company, disrupting their operations, costing them a lot of money, and rallying anti-arms-trade campaigners elsewhere.

          Ultimately, opposition to the arms trade needs to be as global as the arms trade itself. If the company opens a new factory in another town or another country, it needs to be opposed there too.

          And Russle, if you’re a mercenary, you are the “bad guys”.

  • Russle Jackson

    Now see, thats not a fair statement Evey, I may be a merc but I dont enjoy taking the lives of others, and i only do so if they are a threat to me or others. Not all of us are bad guys. We have families just like you. Instead of fighting to people who arm British, US, and NATO forces why dont you try to support them and help them fix their flaws, so NATO and the US can find and eleminate those who use weapons of war to oppress and kill poeple.

    R. Jackson

    • Evey

      A mercenary is a hired killer – someone who fights, not out of necessity or conviction, but for a paycheque. I can’t actually think of a more unethical career.

      So you have a family. So do people who work in the arms industry. So do the people you fight. So do dictators and despots. So what?

      You still don’t get it – NATO and the US are the ones who “use weapons of war to oppress and kill people”. Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan.

  • Haava Kluue

    Wow, never seen so many ‘idealists’ refusing to leave fantasyland.

    Humans are inherently evil. War has been waged since the beginning of time. You can only prevent war when you can prevent the continuation of society. The useless and pathetic ‘quest’ to stop arms production in any form shows how truly powerless and ignorant of humanity you really are. But, if that somehow makes you able to sleep at night, well…

    What’s next after H&K? Picketing cricket bat manufacturers?

  • Haava Kluue

    Skektek,

    You missed the point. You can’t stop arming. As long as there are humans, there are weapons. ‘Intent’ makes war, not the tools. I see people daily use common cars to intimidate and injure in road rage. The list is endless. Total up the people killed yearly by shovels, spoons, rocks, bungee cords, etc., etc. it would dwarf any direct kills associated to equipment manufactured by companies like HK. This has existed since the dawn of man, and it has never changed. So you suddenly think with a protest and a website you can convince all of mankind to suddenly cease being predators? To quite making or buying weapons? Run along now, boy..

    • Skektek

      Arms trade experts have estimated, based on UN and Red Cross figures, that H&K guns have killed at least 1.5 million people so far. Now, maybe it’s possible that even more people have been killed by spoons, but that seems unlikely.

      As you point out, intent is crucial. Cricket bats, shovels, spoons and bungee cords are not made to kill people, whereas assault rifles have only one purpose – to kill people or to make people do what you want through fear of being killed.

      If a man wanted to buy a kitchen knife from you, but you knew that he intended to use it to kill his wife, would you still sell it to him? If you did, what sort of person would that make you?

      What if people working for an arms company knowingly sold assault rifles to regimes that use the weapons to kill civilians? How would that be different?

      Finally; if, as you say, campaigning against the arms trade is not going to have any effect, then why does it bother you so much?

  • Haava Kluue

    Skektek,

    Doesn’t bother me at all. Just pointing out the obvious to you.

    If a man wanted to buy a kitchen knife from you, but you knew that he intended to use it to kill his wife, would you still sell it to him? If you did, what sort of person would that make you?

    What if he concealed the purpose of his purchase from me? He kills his wife, and I find protesters in front of my store? They impede my business and deface my property? What sort of person does that make you, the protester?

    As you point out, intent is crucial. Cricket bats, shovels, spoons and bungee cords are not made to kill people, whereas assault rifles have only one purpose – to kill people or to make people do what you want through fear of being killed.

    So why avoid addressing intent? That’s the entire issue. Cricket bats or rifles..it doesn’t matter. The operator determines the use of the object. I can kill you just as quick (probably quicker)with a Subaru than a rifle. Plus I would be air conditioned doing it. Rifles have been used throughout the last two centuries or so in legitimate defense of homeland. The US sent thousands of rifles to England in WWII so they could protect themselves after they foolishly banned them in the 20s and 30s. If it wasn’t for those rifles and other ‘warlike’ services rendered by Allies, you’d be speaking German right now. But, you didn’t learn a thing from history, pursued the same political course again recently, and find yourselves being devoured by crime in a society where criminals enjoy more freedom than you do.

    Instead of slogging around in the same ‘intellectual’ rut of ‘banning’ objects that can’t be banned really, try something else. Think past the third century. I know it will require effort, certainly more than trespassing and protesting.

    • Skektek

      If a man wanted to buy a kitchen knife from you, but you knew that he intended to use it to kill his wife, would you still sell it to him?

      What if he concealed the purpose of his purchase from me?

      No, that doesn’t work. H&K cannot be unaware of the human rights abuses committed by the forces they sell arms to. Numerous times the company has deliberately circumvented arms embargoes that were put in place precisely because of ongoing human rights concerns. Recently H&K was caught illegally supplying guns to Mexican states such as Oaxaca, where it is well known that police commit serious human rights abuses, including shooting unarmed people.

      I can kill you just as quick (probably quicker)with a Subaru than a rifle.

      No you can’t. There is a reason that soldiers around the world are armed with rifles and not Subarus. Think about it: What would you rather try to dodge – an SUV or a bullet?

      I take your point that other objects can be used to murder people, but your assertions that any old thing will do the job as easily as a modern assault rifle are starting to sound ridiculous.

      If you think the UK is being “devoured” by gun crime, you need to check the facts: Per 100 000 people, the US has 40 times more firearms murders than the UK.

      Our campaign is not an ‘intellectual’ exercise; it is a moral imperative – part of a wider movement to expose and dismantle an unethical industry that profits from war and repression. If you can think of more effective tactics that we could use to achieve our aims, please let us know.

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