Thursday, 11 November 2010

Scenes From Yesterday

1. Start of the March - Josh Towers
2. Burnin' Dave - Ahmed Peerbux
3. Bonfire at Millbank - Josh Towers
4. Grandad in Protest - Richard Jones

Background from The Graun: An estimated 52,000 people, according to the National Union of Students [NUS], marched through central London to display their anger over government plans to increase tuition fees while cutting state funding for university teaching.

A wing of the protest turned violent as around 200 people stormed 30 Millbank, the central London building that is home to Tory HQ, where police wielding batons clashed with a crowd hurling placard sticks, eggs and some bottles. Demonstrators shattered windows and waved anarchist flags from the roof of the building, while masked activists traded punches with police to chants of "Tory scum".
Extracts from an opinion piece by Arthur Baker:
As much as the Tory press (and for that matter Aaron Porter [NUS President], the BBC, and The Guardian) are keen to give the impression that a tiny minority of nutters who “probably weren’t even students” were ruining the march for everyone else, this is simply not true. There were thousands of students in front of the Millbank Building, cheering as windows were smashed, adding their placards to the bonfire.
Perhaps the press simply do not want to believe that any significant proportion of students are angry enough to engage in more than a bit of banner-waving, but unfortunately this is no longer the case. The only moment when the crowd in the square was unhappy with the actions of protesters was when they loudly booed and jeered as a fire extinguisher was dropped (quite possibly accidentally) from the roof, and the crowd chanted “stop throwing shit”
.....As much as the press go on about ‘violence‘, the violence was very minimal. Like every protest I’ve ever been to, thousands of people pushing one way, police trying to stop them and inevitably a few people in the middle getting hurt. I saw people lobbing bits of placards and one or two throwing punches at police, and I saw police clobbering innocent teenagers with batons.
I talked to some students who told me that after smashing into another building they were trapped in by police and – despite not fighting back – battered with battons.
All of them should face justice, but for the record, putting a placard or an effigy of David Cameron on a bonfire is not violence, writing on walls is not violence, smashing windows is not violence and dancing on roves is not violence. Even throwing bits of cardboard placard at police clad in bullet proof jackets and helmets, armed with sheilds and battons hardly seems “thugish”.
The ‘occupation’ may not be justifiable, that’s a matter of opinion, but it should have been expected, and circumvented: 20 police lining that part of the road would have been enough to dissuade protesters.
Finally the question of whether the incident at Milbank furthered our cause or damaged it. One thing missing from the news coverage was footage of the building being stormed by protesters in the first place, why? Surely protesters forcing the doors and surging in would make incredible footage? The answer is that the press simply weren’t there. In fact, the cameras only arrived half an hour after the protesters. On a march of 50,000, until the vandalism started, the only cameras I saw were from LSTV (Leeds student television).
In October thousands of students and trade unionists marched peacefully on downing street, and they did not make the news. Peaceful protests make boring news, without causing a bit of trouble we wouldn’t have been as big news, never mind having almost uninterrupted coverage on every TV news channel and dominating every front page.
What’s more, what cause did protesters ‘damage?’ protesters don’t want public sympathy, they want to create a feeling of unrest, and show that the Coalition are unpopular with the eventual aim of taking their votes, and this protest can only have furthered this aim.
Of course Aaron Porter and any elected representative has to denounce any vandalism, but yesterday students sent a clear message that they are furious with the government, that you can’t deprive people of an education or saddle them with life-long debts without some reprocussions, and people are listening. Who cares if it made them unpopular?

full article:


Lily said...

Nice photos. The best one is Cameron burning. Like hell 'we're in this together', Tories and Lib Dems are barefaced liars and there are more protests to come! You can't blame the violence of the oppressor on the oppressed, the cuts are the real violence and this was a response. Well done to the students for getting the ball rolling.


Dr Zhivago said...

for the record, putting a placard or an effigy of David Cameron on a bonfire is not violence, writing on walls is not violence, smashing windows is not violence and dancing on roves is not violence.

Is he mad, smashing a window is not violence? Chucking a fire extinguisher is not violence? Burning things on the roof is not violence? Absolute nonsense! Protest is okay, but violent destruction of property is not. I sympathise with the decent students not those who became thugs.

Anonymous said...

You been in foreign too long sis, you as an international student now find solidarity with people that you will actually be funding? You're subsidizing their costs, ironically the Tories are relieving you of that burden.


KonWomyn said...


Welcome. Agreed.

Dr Zhivago

Welcome. Chucking? How do you know that extinguisher was chucked and did not slip out of someone's hands? Not even the Channel 4 footage from tonight shows that clearly. I think the author is using violence in the sense that no one was seriously hurt as a result of these actions.


Good point. I changed my answer bec I did deliberate on my position yesterday and I wasn't sure where I stood. All I could think of was that these students are protesting about debt not straight up cash they fork out of their pockets, like me. They have a loan facility. I don't. They have far more social benefits than students in other countries do.

When I saw the pictures this morning I felt differently. This protest wasn't simply about student fees but funding to universities and cuts, support for students in education in general and that affects me too - if funding is cut to my department it means a zillion apps for EU funding, I've been through that before. It's painfully boring and there's a chance of huge disappointment at the end.

I'll be honest and say I don't know if I support these protests 100%, considering my status, but student protest is symbolic of wider discontent and trashing Tory HQ is a little bit funny.

Dr Zhivago said...

The fire extinguisher thrower's been arrested now, what do you have to say about that? Still protesting innocence?

KonWomyn said...

He's been arrested but not been charged or tried. Innocent until proven guilty Zhivago. His arrest still doesn't mean the extinguisher wasn't dropped, neither does it mean there was an intent to kill. I don't think such a stupid action warrants a manslaughter or attempted murder charge as some members of The Met are calling for, that's just reactionary anger.

Anonymous said...

international students don't subsidize uk students it's the uk taxpayer so mentioning that is irrelevant to the cause. this is abut cuts to education. u are a student if u if students do not stand up who will? you can't just wake up one day and say ok this protest is okay to support because it's nhs cancer funding at stake but yesterday's protest was a student one and i pay full fees so it's not my problem. cuts affect everyone.

KonWomyn said...


You misread. I never said I was disaffected and unaffected quite the opposite actually. The fact that I'm an international stu is relevant because that's my standpoint. Please understand that everyone has their personal position in regards to this and this is mine.
Thanks for commenting.