The arms firm behind the suppression of #OccupyOakland and Palestine's popular struggle

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (

Al-Akhbar Management

With the rise of the Occupy Wall Street, a new generation of mostly middle class Americans is learning for the first time about the militarization of their local police forces. And they are learning the hard way, through confrontations with phalanxes of riot cops armed with the latest in "non-lethal" crowd control weaponry. Yesterday's protests in Oakland, California were the site of perhaps the harshest police violence leveled against the Occupy movement so far. Members of the Oakland Police Department and the California Sheriff's Department attacked unarmed protesters with teargas canisters, beanbag rounds, percussion grenades, and allegedly with rubber bullets, leaving a number of demonstrators with deep contusions and bloody head wounds. It is not difficult to imagine such scenes becoming commonplace as the Occupy protests intensify across the country.

The police repression on display in Oakland reminded me of tactics I witnessed the Israeli army employ against Palestinian popular struggle demonstrations in occupied West Bank villages like Nabi Saleh, Ni'lin and Bilin. So I was not surprised when I learned that the same company that supplies the Israeli army with teargas rounds and other weapons of mass suppression is selling its dangerous wares to the Oakland police. The company is Defense Technology, a Casper, Wyoming based arms firm that claims to "specialize in less lethal technology" and other "crowd management products." Defense Tech sells everything from rubber-coated teargas rounds that bounce in order to maximize gas dispersal to 40 millimeter "direct impact" sponge rounds to "specialty impact" 12 gauge rubber bullets.

[Left: a teargas round fired at Occupy Oakland was manufactured in Casper, Wyoming, the home of Defense Technology]

Defense Tech's literature concedes that "information is somewhat difficult to obtain" on the damage its weapons can do to the human body. However, company researchers were able to determine that a beanbag round fired from a 12 gauge shotgun exerts the same kinetic impact as a .22 caliber bullet. "The result is blunt trauma with no penetration," Defense Tech researchers wrote. Wounds suffered yesterday by protesters in Oakland provided vivid confirmation of the conclusion.

Defense Tech products have injured numerous protesters attending the weekly demonstrations in Bilin, an occupied Palestinian village waging an unarmed struggle against Israel's confiscation of its farmland in order to build its separation wall. Jawaher Abu Rahme, a 36-year-old resident of Bilin, died this year of asphyxiation from Israeli tear gas rounds. Her brother, Bassem, was killed two years earlier when he was struck in the chest by a high velocity teargas shell (see video of his killing here). Activists arriving on the scene after Jawaher Abu Rahme's death found spent teargas shells marked with the Defense Tech label.

[Left: Occupy Oakland demonstrators retrieved a shotgun shell used to propel beanbag rounds and an alleged rubber bullet]

Some Occupy Wall Street activists have argued that Palestine must remain segregated from the movement's agenda. It is a distraction from the essential economic issues that drive the protests, they say, and turns the majority of Americans off. But the issue is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid now that the protesters are confronted with the very same weapons Israel uses to crush unarmed Palestinian resistance.

Defense Tech is owned by BAE Systems, a global weapons manufacturer with customers in more than 100 countries. BAE is currently trading at 280 pounds a share on the London Stock Exchange.


Thank you for some other informative site. Where else may just I get that kind of information written in such a perfect approach? I've a undertaking that I'm simply now operating on, and I have been at the glance out for such info.

Sad story, i'm note speaking english very well but a could anderstand most of what your wrote about thath. Was that you that find these weapons ?

Why can't the police act against faschist demonstrators as the Israelis acting against criminal Islamic terrorists?
The question is valid especialy after I see that OWS want to embrace the violent Falsetinian Arabs into their mobement.

In response to the previous comment, the demonstrators in Oakland and elsewhere in the Occupy demonstrations are not fascists. They are people striving for social justice. And the people that the army shoots at in demonstrations in the Occupied Palestinian Territorias are not terrorists. They are farmers whose land Israel is stealing, they are people who have been kicked out of their houses to make room for Jews, and they are people whose lives are being destroyed by the wall. Standing with them are Israelis and internationals who believe in justice.

Some very deep thinking there :D :D :D

As times progresses and people continue standing against the injustices of War $treet, anyone who becomes involved will be educated about how all these issues are interconnected. To ignore this is to our peril. Bottom line is that the coprorations profit from killing; resource extraction used in building weapons; remaining Indian lands stolen for coal, tar sands and uranium; Black communities where toxic incinerators are literally killing residents; not to mention Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and now Occupiers in the US may soon be dying at the rate overarmed, amped up, militarized cops are going. We live in times where globalization, first highlighted during the WTO protests in Seattle, has unwittingly connected all of us via internet to the common injustices we all face from the greed mongers riding upon all of our backs. It will take all of us to straighten this out in a fair and just manner and it will be nonviolence, not weapons, that win the day.

Thanks for this article, Max.

I am here in NYC so cannot speak for every Occupy everywhere. But I have not heard anyone here argue that Palestine should not be part of our movement. A large majority of the people I've talked to at OWS are new activists who may not know very much about Palestine, but are open to learning about what's going on there.

I'm not in disagreement with your movement, but I beg you to write pieces that will at least stand up to a little critical thinking so that you won't be easily marginalized by some of the more moderate, independent minded folks who come here out of curiosity.

In all fairness, there were probably also the same snack food products, clothing manufacturers and personal electronic devices in both Oakland and Palestine. Riot gear is riot gear. Just sayin'.

Secondly, your contention that police are attacking unarmed citizens needs some tweaking. I've watched a lot of video and have yet to see law enforcement open fire on people who are merely chanting and waving signs. In every documented instance, the people were moving en masse towards a police line and either breaking that line physically or headed for that inevitability. While the people were not holding guns, knives or molotov cocktails, they were, nonetheless, physically overpowering police positions as a group and sometimes punching and kicking the police.

Again, I'm not disagreeing with you guys, I'm just pleading with you to think about influencing people who are undecided on whether they are with you or against you. If your point is to preach to the choir, then carry on. If you want to attract reasonable, fence-sitting people, you have to work a little harder on your due diligence.

Regarding the old fashioned Weathermen, I don't think the vast majority of the US citizenry will stand for violent uprising. Republican seats in congress will grow in direct proportion to the radicality of the Occupy movement. Tread carefully.

Chris, nothing at all wrong with the author's thinking. He is only making one simple point, those profiting from suppressing the aspirations of protestors worldwide can be traced to one company. (And as a secondary point hopes to draw comparisons and cooperation between the Occupy and Free Palestine movements.) Your assertion that the police did not attack unarmed civilians is disproved where in this video (Google: Occupy Oakland - Flashbangs USED on protesters OPD LIES ) police deliberately throw a stun grenade at the head of an unconscious, injured veteran (whom was shot at in the head with a tear gas canister which is a violation of police regulations -- witness took a photo seconds before where he was standing motionless prior to being shot in the head) as a group of people try to get him away from the police line and to medical help. No where in the article is the Weathermen mentioned. Please read the article carefully and critically before you begin to criticize the author, who in no way. shape, or form claims to be a part of the movement. I believe your true aim is to sabotage any cooperation. More than likely you are an AIPAC sympathizer that doesn't want to alienate people in the Occupy Movement.

I think that you are right. This commentator works the other side of the street. The police attack defenseless people. They attack people assembling peacefully again and again in city after city. they think they are controlling a mob but in fact they are attempting to discourage such democratic assembly. But, it's ok. Everytime the police crack a head or tear gas someone, anyone, they create a radical and a fighter for justice. So i say they should crack a head anytime they want because it will radicalize ocw which is very desirable politically. It is only through radical basic change that the Zionists and rich cat financiers will be brought down and begin to subsidize social goals and social fairness.

How can injustice be a distraction?


at least they are using non-lethal weapons. I wonder what will happen if old fashioned Weathermen start more aggressive protest techniques?

Can you imagine what would happen if people used the same steet theater tactics against Rick Perry that they did against George Wallace?

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><img><h1><h2><h3><h4><h5><h6><blockquote><span><aside>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

^ Back to Top