rikkiindymedia(At)gmail[dot]com (rikki) | 14.12.2010 01:22 | London
after their end of term party last week, it looks for all the world as though the students have gone home for christmas, as only around 100 turned up to the protest this evening outside the dept of business innovation and skills. but police weren't taking any chances and westminster looked like it was under siege
the protest, called by the 'education acitivist network' and supported by london region UCU, was called for a 3.30 start in trafalgar square, with a 4pm protest at the department of business, innovation and skills in victoria street.
i took a little look around and found several police vans near palace green, another half dozen outside westminster station, a few more round the back of the square, a dozen sitting in streets off whitehall, four more at the entrance to pall mall, and four parked up near the national gallery.
two teams of TSG stood around near the square, and many other officers and wardens strolled round the square, with another team near the christmas tree.
the protestors had set up a little tressle table and stood chatting and holding some banners . at best, they numbered twenty or so.
still, they set off down whitehall, and the warning went out among terrified police. one team of a dozen TSG officers were receiving a final briefing on parliament square, while another team hid round the corner towards the bridge.
as the students approached parliament, the hidden team pounced and stopped them from crossing the road. thankfully, they controlled their panic, and they kept their batons sheathed. the students then walked round the back of the square to their target in victoria street.
there, a larger group of some sixty people had already converged around their very own trestle table, and cheers of solidarity rang out.
while they worked out where they were going to stand, there was a brief attempt at a roadblock, but with so many restless police around, the protestors were quickly coaxed by TSG onto the pavement opposite the government department, and surrounded by police, their banners could hardly be seen through the sea of yellow tabards.
a FIT team filmed and photographed all the peaceful protestors from across the road, and then for good measure crossed over and filmed the journalists in front of the building.
two lone protestors held their ground right infront of the department and despite some threats were allowed to remain.
the FIT team and some other police spotters seemed to have found persons of interest, and suddenly two snatched arrests were made, with a half-hearted de-arrest attempt quickly swamped by TSG.
police refused to give any information about why the two people were arrested, or to which police station they were being taken. a couple of legal observers were trying to find if anyone knew the arrestees.
soon after, the crowd disbanded, and a small group marched off, towards a public meeting being held at kings college, and followed by several police on foot and several vanloads by road.
tomorrow sees the vote for student fee cuts in the house of lords, but it is unclear whether there will be a mass turnout of anyone other than police.
there has been a call to kettle scotland yard in solidarity with alfie meadows, the student who remains in hospital after being struck by a police baton and nearly losing his life. it's possible his ambulance driver saved his life by refusing to be turned away from chelsea and westminster hospital where a policy was in operation to only treat police.
the scotland yard kettle is called for 1pm tuesday
Original article on IMC London: http://london.indymedia.org/articles/6694