police forced students to change their plans quickly this afternoon. although organisers had furnished and agreed the route of their march from trafalgar square to parliament, within minutes of the start, police began attempting a kettle of peaceful demonstrators. in response, students changed their plans and ran around central london while police tried to contain them. eventually the focus was back at trafalgar square.
both UCL occupation and NCAFC (national campaign against funding cuts) have released statements condemning police actions at the very start of today's protests.
the original plan was to rally at trafalgar square, and then march to parliament square. police had been informed of this plan and according to the statements, agreement had been reached. however, within minutes of the rally beginning, police moved in to try to kettle the protest in trafalgar square, and not wanting to be held in freezing and wet conditions like the week before, the students quickly escaped and ran through st james' park.
groups split off, and while some arrived in parliament square, they soon saw that the square was like some sort of military zone, and barriers had been erected to keep them well away from parliament, so they headed off for a jaunt round london.
i followed one group through st james park, where i met MP john mcdonnell, who told me he thought indymedia was "brilliant".
the students i was with, made it up to oxford circus, but i heard others went via the mall with some serious skirmishes with police, and past buckingham palace and hyde park. another group of more than a thousand were seen heading along the embankment towards the city.
at oxford circus, several hundred people blocked the junction and danced to samba, but as police arrived and tried to contain the crowd, skirmishes again broke out as students rushed to escape a kettle, and some police lashed out at them. one young man was brutally arrested on regent street by members of the TSG.
by keeping to back streets and splitting up further, this group eventually made it down to trafalgar square which seemed to have become a focal point for the protest after all.
thousands of students stood on nelson's plinth, and milled aound the square, while police built up huge numbers at every road exit and brought central london to a halt.
a well-prepared group of protestors erected a small marquee tent and served hot food, while a sound sytem and a samba band provided music.
Original article on IMC London: http://london.indymedia.org/articles/6258