Today (7 September 2023) in Wolverhampton Magistrates Court Tom Franklin, 64, Chair of York Green Party was convicted of causing criminal damage to a weapons manufacturing site and given conditional discharge and compensation order of £241.
Franklin was accused of damaging UAV systems by spraying red paint on their forecourt. UAV systems is part of Elbit Systems which makes drones for the Israeli army which are used to kill and maim Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
On 4 July 2022 Tom Franklin and 4 others including his co-defendants Randeep Samra and Cat Scotherne blocked the entrances to UAV systems with a memorial to all those killed by weapons made by Elbit. The memorial comprised a lock on tube and red paint to represent the blood of those killed.
UAV make the engines for Elbit drones. The military drones have been used to kill and terrorise Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Gaza, and are also sold to other countries as “battle tested”.
Tom Franklin said “I cannot stand by and allow these murderous weapons to be made without trying to stop it. The damage we did was minimal as we simply sprayed red poster paint on the site. The drones kill and maim people.
“It is important that we always resist evil in any way we can. I do not apologise for closing Elbit, even if for only one day.”
It is worth noting that whilst Tom has been convicted and now waits to be sentenced, the manufacturers of these and other lethal weapons carry on their business as usual. As I write this, the 2023 Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) takes place in London. This is a biennial trade fair for the defence and security industry (an arms fair, in other words) where the most up-to-date kit is on offer.
Elbit, the company whose activities Tom was protesting, is one of the companies represented. The fact that their wares – and they are by no means alone in this – are used on and intended to be used on civilian targets doesn’t get much discussion at events like this.
York Green Party fully supports Tom in his courageous action. Whatever his sentence, we will support him in any way we can.
Vice Chair, York Green Party