197 Views
1 Comments

Silencing the student voice: London free education demo

The Free Education Demonstration, which took place in London last Wednesday, attracted a large turnout of student protesters – around 10,000, including many Sussex students – all there for different reasons: but the unity of spirit and the common desire for an attainable goal, the abolition of tuition fees, was evident to all in attendance.

Members of the public cheered from their windows, children chanted along with us from the steps of a library as we passed: the feeling at the demonstration was of hope and progress.

Reading about it a day later, you could be forgiven for taking a completely different view. Focusing on the few arrests made, phrases like ‘violence erupts’ and ‘protest turned violent’ can be seen in the majority of mainstream articles about the demonstration, and the Daily Mail’s headline refers to the ‘rabble rousing’ speech by John McDonnell – conveniently ignoring the fact that his speech included the line ‘this will be a peaceful protest’.

As an attendee of the demonstration, and having been unlawfully kettled for more than an hour, I have to say that the violence of the protest did not come from the demonstrators themselves. The instigators in all cases I saw were the police, and the media has mostly taken only their statements into account.

We were detained for more than an hour, threatened with arrest, and told our ‘university careers would be as good as over’ if we tried to leave, and all for standing on the pavement and being young; the officers had no evidence that we were even part of the demonstration.

The question that needs to be asked then is why students, and student protests, are automatically assumed by police, media and the public to be violent and unreasonable.

The Free Education demonstration was an organised event, with a route that was given to the police ahead of time, event coordinators leading the march, and enough backing and organisation to get members of the shadow cabinet marching alongside us. Despite this, the march was disrupted halfway through – not with violent outbursts from members of the procession, but with a police blockade which separated the protesters into two groups and made it impossible to stick to the scheduled route, as all the coordinators who knew it were busy trying to ensure the event even continued.

When police began to run in front of us in an effort to block us off again after the “black block” of anarchists broke through their line, we were forced to run to keep ahead of them, losing the organisers of the event in the confusion and being driven off the route by the police.

The fact that police then used the confusion that they created to justify kettling members of the protest who were on the wrong roads shows, to me, that it was a strategic move used to disrupt and victimise a protest that they felt shouldn’t be occurring – and the only reason I think they would take these actions is because it was a student demonstration.

It may sound like conspiracy theory, but what other reason could there be? The fact that the police themselves disrupted an organised event that had every legal right to take place – and were able to get away with this in every sense despite acting in ways the law does not permit – while the media still sided against students is testament to the deep distrust and antagonistic attitude Britain currently holds against students trying to make their voices heard.

I have no doubt that the police presence, with one police officer to every 5 protesters, was only so huge because the demonstration was primarily students. I also cannot think of a single reason why they would have two helicopters flying above us, almost throughout the entire demonstration, when they cost £75,000 an hour, other than because they expected – or would make sure – it would turn violent.

It seems like the odds in this country are hugely stacked against student protest, and without it, students are made voiceless, which is perhaps exactly the intention.

 

Devin Thomas

Image: Summer Dean

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
731 views1
Campus News
731 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
169 views
Arts
169 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
186 views
Arts
186 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
180 views
Arts
180 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
224 views
Arts
224 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
229 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
219 views
Arts
219 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
211 views
Arts
211 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
336 views
Campus News
336 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
172 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
469 views
Arts
469 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
214 views
Arts
214 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
312 views
Artist Focus
312 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
219 views
Interview
219 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
298 views
Arts
298 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
336 views
Arts
336 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
375 views
Arts
375 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
271 views
Artist Focus
271 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
283 views
Books
283 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
368 views
Science
368 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
340 views
News
340 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…