VIDEO: Arms protesters forcibly removed

Arms protesters were forcibly dragged out of the Octagon this morning, after staging a protest against Thales.

The company, notorious for the production of arms, are at today’s Spring into Jobs Fair.

The group responsible for the protest, Fund Education Not War, told Forge Press: “The University prides itself on being a values-led organisation; however, its continued liason with arms companies responsible for the murder of innocents around the world throws this claim into serious disrepute.”

“Over 50 per cent of Thales’ total sales comes from selling defence and military equipment around the world, including to countries of major human rights concerns such as Saudi Arabia. Thales is a major manufacturer of drones, unmanned aeriel attack vehicles whose use is becoming increasingly common.”

Drone strikes have recently killed many children in both Pakistan and Yemen, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found.

The protestors laid on the floor in front of the Thales stand, and were soon forcibly removed by security. The protestors were then carried through a back door of the Octagon, as development officer Sara Moon looked on.

One of the protesters, Miriam Dobson, who can be seen being removed by a female member of security staff said: “I don’t think there was any reason for the amount of force and aggression they used, I was physically picked up and thrown on the floor outside the Octagon.

“Chris has been injured by the strength of the guy who pulled him outside. We were not doing anything aggressive, we were actually laid on the floor! We were perfectly within our right to stage a protest.”

A member of security staff was heard shouting: “You’re an embarassment to your University.”



A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield has told Forge Press:

“When a group came into the careers fair this morning, staff felt in a difficult position.

“While we fully support the right of students to express their views, when students and stand holders told us the protesters were causing a disruption, our staff felt they had no option but to ask them to leave.

“We know our students tell us recruitment fairs are an important way for them to meet a wide variety of graduate employers and make informed decisions about their own futures and the companies that are looking to employ them.

“Of course we’ll look into precisely what happened this morning.”





Chris, one of the demonstrators from today’s Careers Fair protest, shows Forge Press the bruise to his arm after security dragged him out of the Octagon.


A witness’ video has appeared on YouTube that shows the protestors being dragged out of the Octagon by their feet


39 Responses to “VIDEO: Arms protesters forcibly removed”

  1. Anonymous

    Probably vegetarians.Maybe they wouldn’t be so easy to remove if they got a bit of protein in their diet.

  2. Joe

    Shameful that Thales were invited and that a peaceful protest (they were lying on the floor pretending to be dead, how peaceful can you get) was treated with violence. The protestors should be proud and could consider pressing charges if they used more than reasonable force

  3. Leon D

    We don’t do weapons research. The link between Sheffield’s world-leading materials engineering output and the use of weapons is, at best, contrived and disingenuous. In fact, we’re the host institution to the nation’s most vocal critic of modern weapon research (Noel Sharkey), who is thoroughly backed by the university.

    • Beth

      Hi Leon, I think you have missed what today’s protest was about. It was not a protest against any alleged weapons research by the university and it is great that Noel Starkey is backed by the university.

      The protest today was against the University’s continued liaison with arms companies such as Thales, who are still invited to careers fairs despite the referendum that was passed by the votes of students in October last year, to implement a policy that states unilateral opposition to the involvement of the arms trade in the Union and University. The statement by Fund Education, Not War on the protest can be seen here

  4. Anonymous

    Also, at the risk of generalizing here, I very, very much doubt any member of the student stop arms campaign is actually studying a degree which would allow them a job with said arms companies. It’s not so bad when you’re trying to remove your own career options, but when you’re trying to remove chances for other people….If you don’t want to be in the arms trade, don’t be. But don’t try to prevent career opportunities for graduates who might.

    • Sarah

      Actually, I know that a lot of the students, myself included, involved with the stop the arms campaign study engineering degrees and there are lots of ways that an engineering degree can be used for the BETTER and not to go and manufacture arms and weapons that are used to kill people.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, there are plenty of uses! If one person wants to design in flight entertainment products for Thales, why stop them? If they want to help maintain and develop the Manchester tram network for Thales, why stop them? If they want to work on the London Underground signals project for Thales, why stop them? If they want to develop commercial aero engines for Rolls Royce, why stop them? If they want to design the next generation of Land Rover Defender for JLR, why stop them? Perhaps they’d like to work with BAE on some Pinzgauers…

  5. Bob

    I would hardly call that violence, if the police had been there to remove you they would have done it in exactly the same way; any minor injuries sustained will have no doubt been caused by people resisting just as ‘aggressively’ as the security staff trying to remove them. If they think it was to aggressive then I would like to know if they report the incident to the police and try to press charges against individuals who can be clearly identified on camera.

    Regarding the presence of Thales at the Careers Fair yes they may object to the company and what they may do but many will not interpret the corporate policies of Thales with abhorrence as they might. If people want to talk to Thales at the university then they should be allowed too, with each individual making up their own mind on the issue. They are hardly press-ganging or pressurising people to take an interest in a Thales career.

    • Alex

      Bob, first of all it’s ‘to’ not ‘too’.

      Secondly, the students do not want the arms companies here, (clearly shown by the referendum held last year). The union (students) clearly oppose the presence of arms companies at our university, and seen as the students fund the university, it is demeaning and disrespectful to the students by allowing arms companies to come to the university.

      • Joe

        Bob surely they should be given the counter-argument to the glossy, well-financed corporate spin Thales puts on its dealings? Do you think Thales will tell students thy build the drones used in Pakistani and Yemen? No it’s their job to recruit students not inform them honestly

      • Jack

        ” the students do not want the arms companies here, (clearly shown by the referendum held last year). The union (students) clearly oppose the presence of arms companies at our university”

        I think it’s more than fair to say that the wording and presentation of the arguments made in the referendum were not at all unbiased and relied more on emotive language than meaningful and well thought out policies and with a turn out of about 12% in this referendum, it’s not safe to say that it is representative of the views of students as a whole.

        • Anonymous

          I quite agree! It has been the same with every one of these referendums, bottled water, arms, Nestle… Always incredibly biased, emotive pieces with no counter argument. It’s ridiculous to think they actually represent student views, these people just don’t seem to understand that in the grand scheme of things, student politics is a worthless endeavour that means nothing.

  6. Pat

    The tone of the article and interview makes it sound like the main the thing the protesters take exception to is the force that was used rather than being removed at all. I commend those who took part but if you are going to cause the disruption and resist removal a little bit of bruising in being dragged out is to be expected isn’t it? The story is should be that they were removed, why and by who, rather than a sympathy piece about a couple of bruises

  7. Anonymous

    As much as it was a peaceful protest, they had no actual right to protest there since it’s private property.

  8. Kyle

    They are ruining the open day for all those students who don’t want to spend the rest of their life working for Green Peace, if they wanted to protest they could have stood outside the Octagon or gave flyers to students on the way there.

    The whole world has arms companies, lots of governments need arms- and not all will be perfect liberal democracies but the the weapons being sold to the Saudis will be being used for military purposes. The Saudi regime may not exactly be a very liberal place to live, but they are not committing genocide.

    • Joe

      “Not exactly a very liberal place” is a bit of an understatement. Saudi tanks were used to suppress the uprising in Bahrain, thousands of people were massacred. Bae systems, a company based in the uk whih receives huge public subsidies and political support, has 5000 staff in Saudi Arabia providing “operational support” to the Saudi army.

  9. Rob

    How would you like it if Engineering student protested against companies who want to employ people with humanities degrees? Oh wait…..

  10. Benjamin

    I am assuming there will be a ‘debate’ event regarding this so that those who are more rational can defend the invitation of Thales to a careers fair? There are so many other, more constructive, ways to get a point across than selfishly preventing an oppurtunity for other students to find out more information about a potential career. The majority of work that Thales does is in the civil sector. If people claim that they protest a company with any percentage of the company being related to work in the defence industry then there would have been a lot more than this.

  11. Anonymous

    “Fund Education Not War” – I bet these people would also protest about the lack of graduate jobs, yet here they are ruining opportunities for other students.

    • Joe

      “Ruining the graduate opportunities”, what an exaggeration. If you want to work for Thales then walk past the protestors pretending to be dead and talk to them, or google them. They’re merely informing potential recruits of what Thales actually does and countering their corporate spin. That way students can make an informed decision about the ethics of company before deciding to work for tem

      • Benjamin

        What a small percentage of Thales does compared to the majority of the company work*

        If people protest Thales for their small part in the arms trade where were these ‘demonstrations’ against Rolls Royce, BAE Systems Jaguar Land Rover etc. etc. ? There’s a much more constructive way to inform people than making the octagon look untidy..

        • Joe

          Students at Sheffield and their allies across the country have taken and will continue to take action against bae systems, boeing, rolls royce and all arms companies. Unfortunately people can only be in one place at once so cannot protest against all arms dealers simultaeneously. If you would like to put your money were your mouth is and organise a protest agaisnt any of the companies you’ve listed that would be great and i’m sure the fund education not war group would fully support you as would campaign against the arms trade. If you feel there is a more constructive way of protesting than this than go for it or at least tell us what it is, over the years students have tried a variety of tactics from lobbying to leafleting to actions like this

  12. Joe

    This all seems a little bit odd to me! Firstly there are some comments which are factually incorrect – the Octagon is a University building, not Student Union, as is the careers fair a University event – so they have every right to remove the protesters, who have no legal right to be there, just a permitted right to visit the fair but not to protest, at which point they become trespassers!
    Secondly, the campaign is called ‘Fund Education not war’ – I think you’ll find that war/arms is funding education – i.e. that provided by the university, even in a very roundabout way via RollsRoyce etc. which the University works with these to do engineering research, not arms research, and therefore they are funding us – vital funds without which the University could not exist (when combined with all of its research income) and which would lead to less education, they are funding the University, not the other way round, so the campaign title makes no sense!
    Thirdly and finally, nearly all progress in medicine and healthcare, technology, science etc. occur because of war and the research done by the companies involved in war and through work that is done by the armed forces during war – such as cures for diseases, GPS, advances in surgery – prosthetics, car crash etc. repair surgery – plastic surgery (reparative) and many other areas, this kind of development and progress would never happen otherwise and therefore, we find that war is funding education, once again, not the other way round!
    I’m not trying to say that there isn’t an ugly, dismal and unfortunate side to war, there is, and there is a lot of tragedy, and loss of life, which are outcomes of war, but there is ultimately a lot of good that comes out of the same research that is done for war and by companies and governments involved and we would be utterly stupid and even crass to turn our backs on the advantages that these bring to the human race as a whole.

    • Joe

      Has more to do with the massive amounts of taxpayers money pumped into the arms industry by governments. If you subsidise an industry and fund its research that much a few technological advance will come out of it. This is the problem, governments are spending money propping up the arms trade instead of industries we actually need (and which engineers can work in) like renewable energy

    • Joe

      And most people would prefer education I be funded by government rather than amoral arms companies who inevitably want something back for their money. Students want this as shown by the referendum result

  13. Anonymous

    Joe said:
    “Thirdly and finally, nearly all progress in medicine and healthcare, technology, science etc. occur because of war and the research done by the companies involved in war and through work that is done by the armed forces during war – such as cures for diseases, GPS, advances in surgery – prosthetics, car crash etc. repair surgery – plastic surgery (reparative) and many other areas, this kind of development and progress would never happen otherwise and therefore, we find that war is funding education, once again, not the other way round!”


    And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why war is so beneficial for the world! Just think, if there wasn’t any war then medical breakthroughs would never be made and education would never be funded!

    You have got to laugh.

    • Joe

      So Mr or Mrs Anonymous, thanks for your reply!

      I think your appraisal of my comment is pretty narrow in its view, I didn’t say that they would never me made or education wouldn’t be funded, just that war/defence research and spending has a major part to play – something like 90% of all medical/scientific breakthroughs (if you want the exact figures I’ll go and find them) are a direct consequence of these things, without research or war medicine and science would evolve much much more slowly!

      War is not something to be laughed at!

    • Benjamin

      Not only that but having the number of people from the university who voted in it would give an indication at what percentage of the university was involved.

  14. Alex

    The Octagon is private property, they didn’t have a right to protest there. It’s owned by the university, which did not pass any resolution about not dealing with arms companies – the agreement linked above was about the Union, not the university.
    So while I appreciate that Chris and his bruised arm will probably require years of therapy and rehabilitation, they were rightfully removed, and pretty gently as well it would seem, from the video.

  15. Rich

    I don’t know where this argument about Thales making drones that are used to kill people has come from, they manufacture the watch keeper surveillance drone, which is currently unarmed. It is the reaper and predator platforms, manufactured by general atomic that are used for drone strikes.

    Also I hope these protestors aren’t using windows as that’s the operating system used for these drones.

  16. Rob

    What a ridiculous protest. For a start, what actual impact do you think the University of Sheffield Students’ Union actually has on these companies? I can imagine them in their board room right now saying “Whoa guys, lets stop building all of these highly profitable machines, just because a minority of students from Sheffield SU have a problem.” They will go elsewhere to recruit, as a lot of universities are lining up to have them at their careers fairs, so the only people these deluded students are actually hurting is the their fellow students, as it looks terrible for the University. I agree with the security on this, the protesters are bloody disgraces to our University, and I am ashamed of them.

    P.S. Poor Chris and his bruised arm… what were they supposed to do? You were on private property, you knew what you were getting in to.

    • Joe

      Actually Rob, arms companies are suffering from a skills shortage of engineering students due to university groups such as this publicising the ethical problems associated with them. It is not just Sheffield student union, on the day of this protest there were also protests in Warwick, Swansea, Lancaster, Bristol and London. There are similar protests in other countries every day. Universities are increasinly refusing to sell careers fair spaces to arms companies because of the reputational damage, instead the careers fair spaces are sold to other more ethical firms that employ engineers but do not have the thousands of pounds it costs to buy a careers fair space. There is also the risk that the arms industry will lose the huge public subsidies it currently receives from the taxpayer. It’s estimated that for every job the arms trade creates the taxpayer pays £9,000 a year.

      • Rob

        You are delusional at best Joe. If they didn’t recruit in the UK, they would just go abroad, and our economy would shrivel up even more than it currently has. What would we replace the arms companies with in the economy? Renewable energy engineering? Renewable energy expends more energy putting up than it will ever pump out. For instance, look at the news reports of wind turbines that set on fire whenever it is a bit more windy than usual. Renewable energy is a false economy, and man-made climate change is a myth. If we are arrogant enough to think that we have an impact on Earth’s climate, then we truly are doomed.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment. is published by Sheffield Students’ Union. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the University, the Union or the editorial team. In the first instance all complaints should be addressed to the Managing Editor, although a formal procedure exists.

All comments on are moderated before publication (or rejection). When you post a comment, it is held in a queue until we approve or reject it.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but personal attacks and defamatory comments are not acceptable.

Any complaints should be directed to the Managing Editor. Upon recieving a complaint we will remove the comment in question from view as soon as possible, so the complaint can be investigated. If a basis for complaint can be established, the comment will be permanently removed.