Socialist Worker

Student protest runs police ragged in London

Issue No. 2230

Tens of thousands of students defied the government and the police on the latest day of action against education cuts on Tuesday by walking out.

In London, thousands of university, college and school students held a magnificent protest.

Instead of allowing the police to kettle them in Whitehall, as the force had done last week (see pages 8&9), they broke past police lines to demonstrate across the centre of the capital.

They refused to let the police dictate how they should protest.

They drove repeatedly through police lines and marched through the busy Regent Street, Oxford Street and Holborn areas, bringing them to a standstill.

The march broke into a number of different strands. People ran, cheered, chanted against the Tories and Liberal Democrats, and let off flares.

The police even released a statement which said that protest organisers had broken an agreement with them, and insisted that there “was never any intention to contain the protesters”.

Emily, one of a large contingent from the London School of Economics, told Socialist Worker, “We want to go into ­occupation.

“People thought that students wouldn’t be able to fight or that we’d just have a one-off demonstration. But now we’ve shown that we have a national movement—and ideas that can win.”

Lots of people on Oxford Street clapped the march as it passed. At one point, bus drivers honked their horns in support, leading to a chant of “Workers and students, unite and fight”.

Climbing

School students across the country were not deterred by the police’s claims that protesting was not safe. Hundreds walked out of their schools and colleges, some climbing over walls.

Hamit, a 15-year old from Hackney in east London, said, “None of us walked out last week. But when we saw the news and heard from other schools we thought that if those students could be that brave then so could we.

“I’m scared about the future. What am I supposed to do if I can’t go to university?”

Chloe, a school student from east London, told Socialist ­Worker, “I didn’t tell my parents I was going on the protest last week.

“But when I got home they knew I’d been there and they told me how proud they were of me.

“The police have been trying to put us off demonstrating. But we have to come out because that’s how you change things, isn’t it?”

Many students returned to Trafalgar Square in ­mid‑afternoon, where they held an impromptu rally. There were further clashes with the police as officers ­attempted to surround the ­demonstration.

The anger that students feel against the government must be channelled into the next day of action when parliament votes on fee rises.


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