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Say no to Olympic guns

By Marcus Halaby

 

THE HEADY combination of big business, land development, local and national politics, and the struggle for international prestige has always ensured that major sporting events like the Olympics are fraught with issues for the communities that live and work near them.

Few people, however, could have expected the news that ground-based surface-to-air missiles would be deployed in residential areas in East London to “protect” the Olympic site in Stratford from unspecified threats from the air.

Residents of the 700-apartment Bow Quarter complex are understandably concerned that a battery of missiles could be based on their rooftop water tower, with one resident, journalist Brian Whelan, mounting a legal challenge against the owner of the complex, questioning their right to allow the Ministry of Defence to place the missiles there.

On top of the fear of accidents or explosions, there is the news that armed police may be required to protect the team of around 10 soldiers who will operate the missile battery, bringing with it the prospect that the area might become a target for terrorist attack.

As a recent Stop the War Coalition newsletter put it, this news gives the lie to the idea that the war in Afghanistan is being fought “so that we don’t have to fight on the streets of London”, showing instead that the war “has made Britain a more dangerous place”.

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