Between seven and 10 people have been arrested at the DSEi dinner protest this evening after the police imposed conditions on the protest, and ordered it behind metal cordons.
The DSEi dinner is one of the key ingredients to the world’s largest arms fair, where dealers can hob-nob with each other in one of the fancy restaurants around Hyde Park. Since 2003 each DSEi has seen vocal protests outside the dinner, where it’s usually the best chance to get anywhere near the delegates attending.
Though small, this year was no exception, with about forty people massing outside the London Hilton, after the dinner was moved at the last minute from the Dorchester Hotel, where it was held in 2005 and 2007.
From 6pm people started to stand with banners outside the main entrance of the the hotel with two huge banners, ‘No bombs, no borders’ and ‘Destroy the arms trade’, spanning the width. Whilst pots and pans were banged about some made jokes through a loudspeaker, and others asked suit wearing guests if they were coming for the arms dinner. Everyone denied it.
The surprising feature was how few police they were to begin with, and how close the protest was to the hotel itself, having in previous years been relegated to the park several hundred metres away.
Soon after 6.30pm though the police started to bring in some metal barriers, and started to construct a ‘protest zone’. Not surprisingly people protesting were hostile to the idea, and wanted to remain in a visible, and slightly obstructive position. Half an hour later the police started to form a cordon around people to try and move them to the pen using section 14 of the Public Order Act to impose conditions on the protest.
An eye-witness described how, “The police constables, and the hotel security for that, didn’t really like the new policing style of letting us near the hotel, so they just reverted to the old way of doing things!”
As people tried to slip out of the cordon, or the barriers, they started to be arrested. As of writing it’s unclear how many were finally arrested, but people who witnessed them say that between seven and 10 people were arrested.
The demonstration remained noisy throughout the arrests, but soon started to wind down after the arrests had been made.