Thursday Bloody Thursday

December 13, 2010

Some quotes about Thursday’s student protests:

Bramantyo Prijosusilo of the Jakarta Globe:

“Monitoring British news stories, it is worrying to see so little support for the students’ cause compared with the media’s efforts to excuse the brutality in which the British police are indulging.  It is as if mainstream news producers are intent on obscuring the root cause of the students’ discontent, which is simply the outrageous price hike in university tuition fees that the government is forcing on them, after expressly promising before elections that it would not do that.”

John McDonnell MP, writing in a letter to the Guardian:

“Young people are leading a cultural revolution, which is beginning to infect a much wider range of individuals and groups within our society. Their action against tuition fees has led on to a widespread questioning of the way our system operates, ranging from who pays their fair share of taxation to how politicians fail to represent us. Industrial action in our public services is about to pose the same questions and more.”

Dr Rob Lutton, Nottingham, also writing to the Guardian:

“As a university academic I joined the march to protest against the rise in fees. I arrived in the north-west corner of the square at around 2pm and it was already dangerously overcrowded because the police had left us nowhere to go. Who took the decision to prevent the march from completing its planned route to Victoria Embankment, when was it taken and why? These are just some of the questions that need to be asked of the Metropolitan police in a public inquiry.”

Hilary Topp (Student Christian Movement) and Symon Hill (Ekklesia) writing to the Guardian:

“It is not only that the majority of protesters have been peaceful. Even the majority of those who broke the law have been peaceful. Much of the discussion has focused on the few who have wrongly chosen to inflict harm on others, while politicians often conflate lawbreaking with violence. The two are not the same. Politicians have accused students of trying to undermine the democratic process. In reality, the people guilty of this are those MPs who reneged on their pledge to vote against any increase in fees.”

Josiah Mortimer, a protester from Cornwall writing in the Socialist Worker:

There were around 100 who got out of the kettle at first, and a spontaneous meeting was established to determine what the plan was – with ideas of occupying neighbouring Barclays. This was abandoned after police caught wind and covered the area. Instead the group resolved to refuse to be kettled ourselves, and a line of young people was formed, arm in arm, to prevent the mounted police infringing our right to peaceful protest and movement…It was an amazing moment, as the line of horses came forward and the police threatened to crush the human-wall. The line surged up with a song – “break these walls between us”, and the mostly female line of teenagers forced the police to back off.

Metropolitan Police Federation chairman, Peter Smyth, talking to the Independent

“If they really think we’re going to stand there and take it, and let them into the Houses of Parliament, or wherever they want to go, they should be in kindergarten. Can you imagine what the French police would have done if they’d tried to break into the French parliament?”

Jody McIntyre, 20 year-old protester also talking to the Independent:

“I was attacked twice. The first time I was hit on the shoulder with a baton and then four or five policemen dragged me out of my chair and put me on the pavement. The second time I was pushed out of my chair by a policeman and dragged off by my arms”

Susan Matthews, mother of Alfie Meadows, a student left with brain injuries after being beaten with a police baton, reported by the Morning Star:

“The ambulance man took us to Chelsea and Westminster hospital. That had been given over to police injuries and there was a stand-off in the corridor. Alfie was obviously a protester and the police didn’t want him there, but the ambulance man insisted that he stayed.”

Brian Paddick, talking to the Independent:

“Problems come when you contain those who want to protest peacefully, enraging them by treating them as criminals”

Simon Lawrence of the UWE Camp for Education:

“Demonstrators began passing fences over their heads to the front to use as a defence themselves from the police violence. This drew further and fiercer attacks from the police. In the crowd masked suspected agent provocateurs urged students to throw bricks that had been left by the abbey. These calls were dismissed as protesters pressed tightly together to protect themselves from horse charges and to escape the kettle…The kettle continued for around 8 hours with many demonstrators unable to get to their transport home. After many hours police began allowing small numbers of protesters to leave via the embankment where many were frustrated to find their National Union of Students (NUS) representatives holding an alternative ‘rally’.”

“Report from the front line of the London mob” Indymedia:

“As we watched students break into the Treasury, I can say proudly that I have never witnessed anything so beautiful. As they broke in and blacked out the windows, it was pure symbolism that we the oppressed, would not tolerate being robbed of our rights in order to fund these buildings that represent the beliefs of the minority elitists who scrounge off us. In a nation where the state values money over the welfare of its people, may the black flag be hung everywhere. May the brick walls be smashed.”

Eyewitness account, also from Indymedia, on life inside the kettle:

“Aware that the exit had been closed, the people in the crowd were starting to get anxious, and others angry. Pushing from the back started, forcing the police and protesters into close proximity. Those at the front, their arms up shouting “we can’t move back, people are pushing”, were summarily crushed by police shields and batons. I saw someone going back through the crowd, blood streaming down from their hair and a blank look on their face. Chants of “Let us go!” went unanswered, and panic started, pushing the line further forward. This advance was met by an unexpected charge of mounted police officers. People scattered and fell over one another to escape, some receiving painful injuries to their legs from sociopathically directed hooves. Firecrackers and placards were thrown in response, hoping to rout them. Asking why animals had to be brought into this, a protester was told to “fuck off” and scared back by one mounted officer. A renewed assault of foot police, now all with shields, surged in the horses wake and met resistance in an increasingly pissed-off crowd. The front rows of protesters seemed to take the hits to the head in stride, linking arms and allowing their bodies to be used as shields for the others. A squad of other police burst through the line and attempted to drag someone out. When they were retrieved and helped away by other protesters, one of these police officers started indiscriminately hitting everyone in front of him before walking back behind the line.”

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