Friday, 12 November 2010
Newcastle activist's report of student militancy
HERE for the full report by Newcastle Free Education Network activist Simon Childs.
'Throughout the day there were indications that the march would not be the well mannered affair that the NUS had hoped for. At around 14:00 near parliament, activists from Kings’ College attempted to direct students towards the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Skills.
As a King’s classics student explained, “we wanted to lead people to Vince Cable’s department, the department responsible for higher education for a peaceful protest”. Unable to achieve this, the activists settled for a sit down protest on the route of the main march, outside Parliament which, according to the aforementioned student, “succeeded in slowing the march and directing students’ anger towards Parliament”.
One can imagine what such a tactic may have achieved on another day, but unbeknownst to the sit down protesters, a much more significant direct action was happening a few hundred metres along the route.
At the offices of 30 Millbank, amongst them the Conservative national head quarters, militant students had stormed past the seven police officers on guard and occupied the building.
By the time this reporter reached the scene, the courtyard of the offices thronged with students demonstrating in solidarity with the occupiers, some of whom tried to break through the now much strengthened police line to enter the building.
Angry students burned effigies of David Cameron and Nick Clegg while anti- Tory slogans rang out. Missiles were hurled against the police. Those nearest the building, along with some of those already inside, slowly but surely smashed the windows on the ground floor of the building, allowing more to enter.
The occupiers soon reached the roof of the building and waved to the assembled students below to huge applause. Accusations of violence are unsurprisingly being levelled against the students by the corporate press. Whilst there is clearly an element of truth in this, the atmosphere was one of a carnival, all be it one with a very distinct edge. One student who entered the building, who preferred not to be named, described the atmosphere inside as “like a party, with everyone dancing”.'