Police alert over Brighton shop protests


An Israeli-owned shop in Brighton will celebrate its first birthday this weekend — and Sussex police are preparing for potential trouble.

Hundreds of anti-Israel activists and members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) are expected to picket EcoStream, which sells SodaStream recyclable bottles made in the West Bank settlement of Mishor Adumim.

Around 100 members of Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI) are expected to mount a counter-protest.

A police spokesperson said that officers would be present and the situation would be monitored in the days leading up to the anniversary on Saturday. Extra police would be deployed if needed.

Over the past year, the shop has become the focus for regular boycott protests. “We are trying to dissuade customers from using the store,” said a spokesman for Brighton and Hove PSC.

Last Saturday, EcoStream staff arrived at the shop to find the front door lock filled with superglue. They also found a gate leading to the shop’s side entrance had been chained up.

That afternoon, after managing to get access to the shop, an unidentified man verbally abused a member of staff. He is believed to have called the employee a “Nazi”. Police are investigating the incidents.

But EcoStream manager Steve Bannatyne felt that the local force had not done enough to protect the shop and its staff. “It’s not acceptable that these people can continue to do this. Something more needs to be done,” he said.

A police spokesperson said: “People have the right to peaceful protest. Officers will balance this right against those of other members of our community to go about their lawful business.”

Saturday’s celebration will include a performance by SFI member Chelsea Fox, a pre-op transexual singer.

“I’ve got a very big mouth and I’m not going to let them out-sing me,” she said.

“We’ve all been getting a lot of hassle and threatened all the time. But we’ve got more than 100 people coming down to Brighton to support the Israeli cause.”

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