A group of people opposed to the arms trade have been physically removed by police from the London Graduate Fair after a nonviolent protest against the presence of arms firms. The multinational arms companies BAE Systems and Raytheon both ran stalls at the event to promote themselves as potential employers.
BAE and Raytheon have both been criticised for selling arms to oppressive regimes and exercising undue influence within the UK and US governments. Armoured vehicles made by BAE in Newcastle were recently used by Saudi forces in Bahrain in the suppression of peaceful pro-democracy protests.
The nonviolent campaigners arrived at BAE's stall and displayed a banner reading “Careers in Killing”. They politely declined requests to move and instead began to talk with nearby participants at the fair about the nature of BAE's work. They were then removed by police.
The police also removed another campaigner who was handing out leaflets inside the fair. Others gave out leaflets to people queueing up to enter the event.
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is campaigning against the presence of arms companies at recruitment fairs.
"We were at the London Graduate Fair today because wherever BAE goes, it is important that they face protest and resistance,” explained Beth Smith, co-ordinator of the CAAT Universities Network, after police had forcibly removed her from the building.
She added, “They must not be allowed to present themselves as a legitimate company”.
The London Graduate Fair is run by the University of London Careers Group at the Business Design Centre in Islington. This is the second year running that the police have removed peaceful critics of the arms trade from the building.
In recent years, there has been a significant rise in protests against BAE and other arms companies at universities. The academic year 2010-2011 saw protests at careers events at universities in Bristol, Canterbury, Edinburgh, Exeter, London, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton, Warwick, and York.