Over 2,000 students joined a "cops off campus" demo today, Wednesday, at the University of London's central London campuses.
It was called in response to brutal policing and mass arrests last week, but was fuelled by wider anger at austerity and privatisation. Students came from across London and beyond. Workers from the UCU and Unison unions at central London universities joined them.
Soas student Nour told Socialist Worker she joined the protest because "we have the right to protest without facing police violence". Eleanor also studies at Soas. She said, "The police response to our protests is disgusting. But this is also about what management are doing with cuts and trying to close our student union."
Nathan Pettefar, a student at London Metropolitan University, agreed. "High rents, selling the student loan book, wage freezes for workers - it all adds to the bitterness we feel," he said. "The cops wanted to make an example of us last week but we won't let them. The turnout today has been brilliant."
Joe O'Neill travelled from Lancaster university with fellow student union officers. He told Socialist Worker, "We are against the commercialisation of education. We face big cuts to some of our courses. The issues we're fighting in Lancaster are the same as students face here."
One UCL UCU member said, "I'm here supporting the students who supported our strike. They got into trouble on our behalf and that moved a lot of us.
Sandy Nicoll is Soas Unison branch secretary and was one of the protesters arrested last week. He spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity.
Sandy described how the mood of solidarity between students and workers has grown. "There's huge hostility towards management," he said.
"Each overreaction has angered people more. Many departments at Soas have issued statements in solidarity with the students in just a few days."
Protesters marched around campus then many took to the streets of central London for over three hours.
They toured other university campuses, stopped at the Royal Courts of Justice and Downing Street before ending up back on their campus. Matilda Macattram cheered the demo as it passed. She told Socialist Worker, "This is excellent - these students are the voice of a million other people.
"We won't be silenced until justice is done."