What do babies and arms sales have in common? Surprisingly, Clarion Events who organise the Baby Show also own and organise Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi), the world's largest arms fair, scheduled for September 2009.
Over the weekend anti-arms trade protesters demonstrated outside London's ExCeL Centre, venue for both exhibitions. The protest was both against Clarion and the ExCeL Centre for agreeing to host the event.
Saturday - Music to their ears
East London Against the Arms Fair (ELAAF) took the lead on Saturday 28 February with a musical protest. Around 30 campaigners from ELAAF, London Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Disarm DSEi, Tower Hamlets CND, Croydon CND, London Catholic Worker, Trident Ploughshares, the Big Red Band and a separate jazz combo combined to make music together.
Members of the public were leafleted and serenaded with music from the Big Red Band and the jazz combo, accompanied by singing with appropriately modified lyrics by other protesters.
The peaceful demonstrators received extra attention from ExCeL security, who tried to move them to the walkway from the station to the far side of the forecourt. Most refused to move. The police were eventually called, but after talking to the protest co-ordinator, the armed officers departed without taking further action.
Sunday – Baby shows his arms (sales)
Sunday morning dawned even more grey and miserable than the ExCeL Centre forecourt but that didn't stop activists from London CAAT showing "big baby" Clarion playing with the toys of death.
Two "big babies" in nappies and babygrows bounced around in their playpen (in reality the fenced-off area which ExCeL deems appropriate for demonstrators) playing with guns and a rocket. There was even a kick around with a plastic globe – the world was really their plaything.
The playpen, colourfully decorated with placards and banners, attracted attention from the many visitors, who were also leafleted at the hall entrance.
Read more about Clarion on the Arms Fairs campaign pages.
All photographs on this page © Dan Viesnik 2009