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Protest against "absurd" surface-to-air Olympic missiles in Greenwich
A DAY of protest is being organised against the "absurd" surface-to-air missiles deployed in Greenwich for the Olympic Games.
On June 9 residents and trade unions will march from Blackheath to Oxleas Wood, the sites of the two missiles, amid fears they could cause a "disaster" if fired.
The Rapier missiles have a range of up to five miles and would protect against a "worst-case scenario" 9/11-style attack on the games, according to the Ministry of Defence.
Greenwich and Bexley Trades Council is strongly opposed to the military move, fearing the potential damage and casualties in an area of high population density.
Press officer for the trades council Dave Putson said: "It is absolutely bonkers.
"The only thing it’s good for is PR - to show off the missiles."
He added that the missiles could become a terrorist target.
The trades council and Lewisham ‘Stop the War’ Coalition have teamed up with other local groups and the wider South London Against Missiles (SLAM) campaign.
SLAM spokesman Chris Nineham said: "There is a groundswell of opinion that this is absurd. Far from feeling safer, people feel threatened."
Leafleting, a petition on the SLAM website and a public meeting will take place prior to the march, which starts at 2pm.
The PCS Ministry of Justice London Courts Branch has also backed the campaign.
A spokesman said: "Residents have serious concerns about such a disaster and the possibility of accidents."
"Everyone wants the Olympics to be safe, but such measures are in danger of turning the Olympics into a festival of the global security industry."
The missiles, which can travel more than twice the speed of sound, were unveiled at Blackheath on May 3 and are expected to return in time for the Olympics.
Speaking at the opening day at Blackheath, Army commander of joint ground based air defences Colonel Jon Campbell said the rockets were designed to deter terrorists.
However, Col Jon Campbell refused to comment on the impact to residents if they were fired.
Responding to news of the protest, the MoD told News Shopper that the importance of ensuring the safety and security of the Olympics was recognised by the majority of residents, councillors and MPs that had visited the sites.
An MoD spokesman said: "The proposed sites would be secure, with a small restricted zone.
"No residents or businesses would need to be relocated from these areas. The sites require little support in operation, minimising the impact on local traffic.
"The locations were identified after careful analysis, as giving the best possible protection to the Olympic Park and surrounding areas against any air threat."
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