By Thomas Foster
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Student encampments resisting across Britain

From Aberdeen to Falmouth there were 38 student encampments or occupations at the start of this week
Issue 2908
At the Palestine encampment in Newcastle (Picture: LoCNewcastle on Twitter)

At the Palestine encampment in Newcastle (Picture: LoCNewcastle on Twitter)

Student encampments for Palestine across Britain are continuing despite increasing repression.

At Newcastle University, police attacked students and at Sheffield university, the administration demanded the closure of the encampment.

In Newcastle the police “shoved, groped, kicked, elbowed, strangled, punched, hit with batons, and threw to the ground” students last Wednesday, according to a statement by students involved in the encampment.

This was after activists decided to escalate and occupy a university building following management’s refusal to meet any of the camp’s demands.

A campaigner involved in the encampment told Socialist Worker, “We started with around 50 people occupying the university building.

Protesters got inside and blockaded all the doors, renaming it Al Shifa Hall.” Batons The activist continued, “We started to see more vans.

And then riot police with batons in their hands arrived. “We decided to try and break the police lines and to get those in the building out.

The administration had locked them inside by this stage. It went up to around 400 people trying to break through the police line.

“The police were beating us badly. Police cracked open heads, cracked people’s knees, punctured lungs, cracked ribs and set dogs on protesters.”

The encampment activist said that after a few hours “the police let those locked inside out”. “We then rallied together and marched down the road to Tyne bridge,” they said.

“We picked up construction barriers, creating a blockade and completely shutting down the bridge.”

After blocking the bridge, activists then “went to the police stations where the police had taken people to, protesting outside of them”.

“Eventually all four people who the police arrested were released,” the activist said. “The cops tried to arrest a lot more but we fought back whenever they did.”

The activist said that the mood in the encampment was one of defiance. “We aren’t letting police brutality get to us,” they explained.

“We are thinking about how we can escalate, how we can stay over the summer, what we can do next.”

And Sheffield university administration has demanded that the student encampment close on Monday of this week. The Sheffield encampment put out a statement in response.

It said, “The University of Sheffield, lacking any serious grounds for demanding our withdrawal, are relying on vexatious and bad faith arguments regarding our fire safety procedures and our safeguarding policies.”

Until management meets the demands of the encampment, students are refusing to move.

“Let us state clearly, to our students, staff and community supporters, but above all to the university administration—we are not leaving,” they said.

Across Britain from Aberdeen to Falmouth there were still 38 student encampments or occupations at the start of this week.

They are demanding action over issues such as ending university links with Israeli universities and stopping investments in firms that boost the genocide.


‘We need to keep protesting’

Palestine campaigners are debating how to use their vote to continue the fight against Israel and its backers.

A march of around 300 protesters last Saturday in east London heard from speakers including independent Palestinian candidate for Ilford North, Leanne Mohamad.

She told the protest in Redbridge that fighting for Palestine “requires more than charity and protest, but political action”.

“It’s imperative we hold politicians accountable,” she said. “The Labour Party and candidates have lost the faith of our generation. Our vote can no longer be taken for granted.”

Protester Firoza told Socialist Worker that she thinks the election is a way for ordinary people to “speak out”. “We’re tired of politicians who only care about themselves,” she said.

Abby, another protester, said that she just doesn’t want to vote for Labour or the Tories.

“I’ll probably vote independent,” she said. “I’ll vote for someone who supports Palestine.

“But we need to keep raising our voices or it’s not going to stop.”

Miriam from Newham Palestine Solidarity Campaign told the rally that while the election is important, maintaining the movement for Palestine is even more critical.

“A cross on a piece of paper is a cross on a piece of paper. It’s you who will continue to put the issue of Palestine on the agenda.

“We need to maintain the mood we have now past 4 July and keep fighting for Palestine.”

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the Hampden football stadium in Glasgow last week as Scotland played a football game against Israel behind closed doors.

That match was delayed by a protester who chained himself to the goalposts.


Join these marches—and more—for the Palestinians
  • The next national march for Palestine in London is this Saturday 8 June, 12 noon. It’s a crucial opportunity to raise the slogans “End the Genocide, Stop Arming Israel” during the election period.

Full details can be found at tinyurl.com/March4Palestine8June

  • The Stop The War trade union conference has been moved to the next day, Sunday 9 June. It will be from 10.30am to 4.30pm at ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DR.

Trade unionists from across Britain will discuss how to stop the warmongers and share their experiences of building pro-Palestine initiatives in their unions and workplaces.

For more details go to tinyurl.com/STWTUConf

  • In Scotland, activists will march on Saturday 15 June, assembling at 11am George Square, Glasgow. It has been called by the Scottish Trade Union Congress and supported by Scottish CND.

Scottish Stop the War and Palestinian groups. For full details of marches and meetings go to stopwar.org.uk and palestinecampaign.org and scottishpsc.org.uk

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