UK Social Struggles Newswire Archive
Yesterday’s student demonstration in London ended in a mass arrest of 144 people, being described by protesters and legal groups as an exercise in information gathering by Metropolitan Police.
After being surrounded by moving ‘kettles’ throughout the day, Police forced protesters back to Trafalgar square where at 6.20pm a Kettle was formed around the remaining people followed by their mass arrest for breach of the peace.
Ashley, who was inside the demo last night, said “The police took me from the kettle with another person to be searched and questioned in front of cameras. They told us that if we gave our details we would be released but after giving my name, address and date of birth I was arrested.”
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as the light faded in trafalgar square, the crowd tested two or three of the exits and more fighting broke out. at one point, police in the north-west corner made a charge into an angry crowd, and in the process a young woman was knocked unconscious. police refused to allow medics in, claiming they feared for their officers safety, even though students offered to stand well back. arguments went on for some time while the woman laid there, until eventually a group of police and medics moved forward, picked her up (without a brace or any check on her condition) and ran her behind police lines.
NB if you didn't realise, you can see larger versions of pics on indymedia london by clicking on them
some petty pilfering at tescos gave the police the excuse to close it down, and some fighting occured and a window was damaged. as riot police flooded that area, one particular inspector, pictured, lashed out at someone simply because they were "too close" (not having much room to move back because of others behind him). again, there was a serious injury as the protestor fell back and was wounded. some people screamed for medics and then carried the wounded man to the police line, also shouting at the inspector that he had done this.
this police operation eventually stood down. during it, press were not allowed in or out of cordons even with press cards.
riot police then removed protestors from the plinths, sometimes aggressively, and making at least two arrests. this large group of police guarding the plinth were taunted by the crowd who shouted "you're kettled".
again, these police withdrew, but not for long.
suddenly, hundreds of police charged across the square in full riot gear from several directions. backed up by mounted police, they formed an impenetrable kettle at the entrance to the strand, capturing probably around a couple of hundred protestors (and passers-by).
there were certainly far more police than there were students, but the students remained unfazed, shouting slogans, doing the hokey-cokey, singing carols, or just sitting under the heavy sleet and snow.
police made occasional snatches to arrest individuals alleged to have been involve in criminal damage.
i was disturbed once again (having seen a medic using fire extinguishers in the faces of protestors last week) to see medics acting like bully boys. one completely lost control at someone outside the kettle who he said was standing too close to him. other officers had to actually restrain the medic to stop him attacking the by-stander!
over the next couple of hours, police began allowing people to leave one at a time.
customarily, kettles are employed when a section 60 has been enforced, and as people leave, they are photographed with any face-coverings removed, and they can be searched for any offensive weapons, although police often use the search as an excuse to go through any identifying documents even though strictly this is not allowed in law. however, there is no legal requirement to provide a name and address.
this evening though, police used a new technique. as each person was escorted out, they were placed in front of one of three forward intelligence teams, who interviewed them in front a bright light and video camera. they were told they were being arrested for breach of the peace, and that they therefore had to give their name and address. some were loaded into vans - others were, after giving all their details and being photographed and videoed from every angle, told they were now de-arrested and allowed to leave - many of these were under-18.
this is a worrying mass addition to the police database of young people not guilty or suspected of any crime, but simply protesting about ideological and political education cuts by an undemocratic and unelected government.
i aslo saw a line of police writing up their note-books and openly chatting and collaborating while doing so.
mainstream media are quoting around 150 arrests, although i think this includes the mock and temporary arrests as people left the kettle. however, dozens were taken away in vans and there had been several arrests earlier during the course of the day.
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.
Web Link to Video
01-12-2010 02:03Students occupy the Stannary at the Tremough campus where University College Falmouth and Exeter are based.
30-11-2010 23:32Students in London today did a brilliant job of avoiding and evading police kettles, keeping the coppers on the run for most of the day. Rapid movement and a spontaneous route kept the demo ahead of police lines. The Met, clearly run ragged, whinged that the demo had started too early and caught them out!
30-11-2010 23:24Video shot at approximately 2.30 pm Tuesday 30 November 2010, between Brighton Pavilion and University of Brighton's student-occupied Pavilion Parade building. Shows the very start of march toward Hove Town Hall.
30-11-2010 20:58“We are sitting on 5GB from Bank of America, one of the executive’s hard drives,” Assange said in the Oct. 9, 2009, interview with Computerworld magazine, referring to five gigabytes of data. “To have impact it needs to be easy for people to dive in and search and get something out of it.”
WikiLeaks plans to release “either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it,” Assange said in a Nov. 11 interview with Forbes, declining to identify the bank from which the documents came."
30-11-2010 20:29"In a national broadcast exclusive interview, we speak with world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky about the release of more than 250,000 secret U.S. State Department cables by WikiLeaks. In 1971, Chomsky helped government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg release the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret internal U.S. account of the Vietnam War."
30-11-2010 17:42A protest was held today (30th Nov) in Lancaster city centre by school students, adult college members and uni students.
Around 300 were there. March took place and participants were roughed up by the police and directed during this.
Protesters were kettled in Dalton Square with protesters who attempted to break out being roughed up and thrown back. Protesters were kettled again while attempting to march past Lancaster Royal Grammar School. Protesters were also denied (by the police) access to the University Of Cumbria campus.
30-11-2010 10:54On 24th November, as part of the first National Day of Action Against Fees and Cuts, the Radcliffe Camera, a central library of Oxford University, was stormed and occupied by around 200 people. The building was occupied for 28 hours until being raided and evicted by police. The occupation involved students from Oxford University, Oxford Brookes University, Ruskin, and many other educational institutions in Oxford. The intention of the occupation was to open the university library as a resource for the entire community. However, police and security colluded to deny access to anyone who attempted to enter. Below is a text begun within the Radcliffe Camera and completed after eviction. It was composed by a few not all of the those involved in the Radcliffe Camera Occupation, and neccessarily does not represent everyone's views.