Following the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of the US police, a huge wave of Black Lives Matter demonstrations has taken place in all 50 states of America. These have often been met with harsh repression by local police forces with many protestors being injured, and a journalist even losing sight in one eye after being shot by an officer. President Trump has since made the decision to deploy around 16,000 troops from the National Guard, the US reserve military force, to quell any further protests. Protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement are taking place globally.
This repression is being enabled by the UK government which has granted export licences to many UK arms companies currently exporting armaments to the US. This also includes several companies involved in the maintenance and replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system; they have been exporting armaments, ammunition and a wide range of military equipment to the US that may be being used by US police against protestors.
Using the database of export licences granted by the UK government, collated by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), we’ve discovered that UK company BAE systems has been granted licences to export goods such as ammunition, grenades, drones, explosives, chemical weapons and much more to the US. Several American companies, which manufacture armaments in the UK such as Boeing, General Dynamics, Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin, Moog and Northrop Grumman have been granted licences to export equipment regularly used by US police such as small weapons, armoured vehicles and even more advanced tools such as tanks, drones and helicopters.
Whilst these companies, which receive taxpayers’ money to renovate and replace Trident, are continually allowed to export to the US, we will remain complicit in the often-brutal repression of these protests.
CND supports calls made by over 160 MPs, hailing from every party, for an immediate end to exports to the US whilst an investigation can take place. We also encourage our supporters to sign the petition supporting this campaign, which has so far gained over 650,000 signatures.
Last year, when it was found UK equipment was being used by the Hong Kong Police Force to repress protesters in the city, the government were pro-active in suspending sales of tear gas and other riot control equipment to Hong Kong. We hope to see similar action take place and an end to UK taxpayers’ money being used to fund police brutality in the US.