Thousands of students take action against cuts and fees

Photograph from Whitehall by @beckpitt

Thousands of students and supporters are due to take part in a national day of action against cuts and tuition fee increases across the UK on 24 November. Post your live updates here.

The main day of action Facebook group has over 22,000 attendees.

We'll be updating this story throughout the day as events unfold, please add your own updates as comments.

Occupations have begun at some universities before the official day of action:

- Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, occupied the Brunei Gallery on Monday, the occupation continues at time of writing, held by around sixty students, updates are being posted to their blog.

- Around 50 of these students are engaged in the occupation of Lecture Theatre 7 in the Manchester Metropolitan University Geoffrey Manton building, the occupation began on Monday.

- Around 40 students at the University of the West of England (UWE) students began an occupation at the Frenchay Campus on Monday afternoon with the intention of staying overnight.

- Students at Royal Holloway occupied a corridor of the founders building last night, they are posting regular updates and have a live webcam feed

- Birmingham and Plymouth universities have both been occupied today.

- 10.45am - School walkouts have begun, with a well-organised protest in Leeds leaving the school at 10am for a march around the town centre.

- Local newspapers are reporting a number of secondary schools and sixth form colleges will be participating in the walkouts during the day.

- 12:10pm - anticuts.com just reported UEL going into occupation following a demo on campus.

- 12:20pm - London Southbank university just went into occupation, more details on on their blog.

- 12:28pm - The Guardian's Paul Lewis on twitter writes: March just broke into a sprint away from police at strand - cops now blocked the road. #demo2010, then March broken from official route to Trafalgar Sq. Now at Embankment. This wasn't supposed to happen. #demo2010

- 12:39pm - UCL occupied . update 12:41pm: Guardian reports that "hundreds of UCL students" have occupied the Jeremy Bentham room in the central campus building). 12:50pm - photo.

- 12:46pm - @paul_sagar writes "There are school kids at the Cambridge demo, in uniform. AND WITH THEIR TEACHERS! #demo2010"

- 12:51pm - traffic stopped in central Leeds (photo)

- 1:23pm - Warwick University in occupation in Arts Centre Lecture Theatre

- 1.30pm - Police van isolated by protesters, then abandoned by police in Trafalgar square, in process of being ripped apart. Protesters are in process of being kettled by several hundred police officers, various journalists and others reporting on twitter that things are still unpredictable.

- 1.40pm - Essex University occupied.

- 1.54pm - Leeds University occupied.

- 2.01pm - Oxford library occupied.

- 2.02pm - BBC live coverage shows police using batons to beat back protesters.

Protester bleeding in Westminster

- 2.04pm - One arrest at Bristol protest.

- 2.24pm - Over 5-600 students marched through cambridge according to the BBC. Several hundred scaled a fence to occupy Senate House. Lots of people in there, beating back people with batons. A few students jumping back over the fence to get out of the way.

- 4.00pm - over 1,000 students walked out of Chiswick community school earlier today according to twitter (no link because the twitter account appears to be the real name of a real student at the school).

- 4.48pm - Dozens of retweets on twitter that Officer U2128 kicked an unarmed 15 year-old girl in the stomach, this was caught on video. Witnesses then changed "You're going on YouTube".

- 5.42pm - video from the Senate House occupation in Cambridge:

- 5.45pm - solfed updates from around the UK:

Liverpool
Initial estimates suggested a turnout of thousands who brought Lime Street to a standstill, with a fast moving march featuring an attempted sit-down in Castle Street. While most commenters are agreeing that the protest has been peaceful, police brought out dogs and horses and there have been complaints of "intimidating behaviour." The march was largely halted as of 1pm but quickly got moving again and reached the town hall at around 1.30pm. Hundreds of people filled all levels of the Liverpool One shopping centre, and the protest broke up at around 2.30pm. The main incident saw students occupy the Guild (Liverpool's Student Union) after the march had broken up, in an interesting twist on the story of over a dozen occupations iat universities across the country - apparently many students have remained unimpressed with the performance of the likes of Aaron Porter.

- Brighton
The city saw a relatively energetic march converging on Dyke Road Park, from age 12/13 up. Numbers were difficult to estimate, but our members thought there could be 500-1000. One noted at 3.30pm: "Speeches were largely ignored, and over half the crowd has broken away on an unauthorised march. Cops are heavily outnumbered, with a total of over 2,000 people on the demo." As it ended many converged on the town hall, where police pushed the crowd back as it attempted to storm the building.

Most spectacular however were the events after the official march ended, with reports coming in of students smashing in their union building and large numbers of police being mobilised. It appears that the police have been totally outmanouvered, with roaming demos which have seen the city's VodaFone shop briefly occupied, 400-500 people holding the major Western Road and continuing struggles at the town hall - with the force's Chief Inspector Taylor noting "No other arrests apart from the earlier one for breach of peace."

As the police's frustrations rise, there has been at least one anecdotal story on twitter that a student in school uniform has been beaten up by a policeman at Priory House.

Extra...
A member in the Northwest notes: "Biggish one in Manchester again, around 700 people but a bloody enormous one in Bury up the road, police saying around 1,200. It's now finished and police say there were no arrests made.
News from Leeds: Protesters have occupied Leeds university. People are on the roof.

Massive list of what's planned for today at http://anticuts.org.uk/?page_id=778

More on libcom:
- Discuss today's events in our forum
- Discuss the 10th November protests
- UK against austerity

Posted By

libcom
Nov 23 2010 23:04

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Comments

gypsy
Nov 24 2010 20:17
Steven. wrote:
Headed to Whitehall after work, the kettle seemed to be over, there were a couple of hundred stragglers left, including quite a few young kids, 15 to 17.

The police will get a telling off for this I think(detaining children). I know the state allready does this with asylum seeking children but 'british children' have more protection than adults under the law I believe?

Auto
Nov 24 2010 20:16
sabotage wrote:
it would be useful for those of us over the pond to know how the majority of these demos and occupations have been organized and by whom? student unions, political groups, what is the analysis of that?

the only people who'd do this shit here are anarchists, and maybe trots, and a few extra students once in awhile. we have no student unions...

A lot of them seem to be honestly spontanaeous, formed by ad-hoc groups. From what I've heard political groups seem to be on the fringes of the protests and definitely aren't 'in-control'. The Oxford occupation was apparently open and democratic with consensus decision making.

Look at the SWP. Their front group called for the big demo to be at 2pm at Lib Dem HQ. A lot of the crowd seem to have very autonomously decided against that course of action, without prompting.

Auto
Nov 24 2010 20:32
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Auto wrote:
Look at the SWP. Their front group called for the big demo to be at 2pm at Lib Dem HQ. A lot of the crowd seem to have very autonomously decided against that course of action, without prompting.

I'm not sure thats the case, the London Evening Standard was carrying an article that showed the agreed route the marches would take which involved going down Whitehall to reach the Lib Dem HQ. It looks like the police had intended on setting up the kettle anyway as the first cordon across the bottom of Whitehall had riot vans parked up behind it to reinforce it.

Fair enough, I stand corrected. smile

Although I still think that, while a lot of political groups would love to be in control of this kind of force, none of them are.

Auto
Nov 24 2010 20:37

*Deleted - Double Post*

Ramona
Nov 24 2010 20:39

At Edinburgh, we've organised with our own Anti-Cuts Coalition which is mostly students, and many of them either anarchists or other lefty types. The students union supported the demo but not *so* much the occupation, we've had hot debates about whether we have solidarity with *all* protestors or just the nice peaceful ones - Students Union just like the peaceful ones and "strongly believe there should be reprisals for anyone who damages property", fortunately they're in the minority.

We're going over our demands at the moment, but consensus decision making between 70 people is slow going.

The University security guards tried to prevent any non-occupying students from accessing the building (we're in a big facility with 24 hr computers) and this made us unpopular, however we've now managed to get guaranteed access for all non-protesting students and are hoping to get freedom of movement for all of us soon.

Also, one of the students has brought her pet rats and they are WELL cute.

Joseph Kay
Nov 24 2010 20:50

In Brighton anarchists and trots were variously involved flypostng etc, but there was a lot of self-organisation, students getting in touch asking for help, setting up their own facebook groups getting hundreds of attendees within hours etc. I've been in Brighton/politics for 9 years and this is the most exciting thing I've been involved in, including anti-war stuff which was similar in many ways. (this isn't heat of the moment talking, I just watched 400 kids try and storm the central police station out of raw anger with the cops, one of the most militant things I'm aware of in the UK for a long time).

Chilli Sauce
Nov 24 2010 20:56

Jason Cortez, if ur about, I'm curious about that school which you posted that report from a while back, what came of it?

Re: The National Union of Students. If we were in the US we'd call it them "student business unions". They are bureaucratic, unnacountable, and the majority of students in the UK are disengaged from them. This is even more evident as the members of the NUS (it comes with a university place) are given a vote in the Labour Party internal elections and the NUS itself is not much more than a staging ground for Labourite politicians. Even Americans know the name of Jack Straw. Well, he was a Trotskyite leader of the NUS, now a New Labour warmongering ballbag.

So it appears the actions, while there may have been a more active minority (at the school where I work students e-mailed around flyers), were pretty spontaneous. The other thing that was probably key was social networking and things like Twitter. Bloody kids!

That said, the university occupations seemed to be have planned somewhat in advance, with an activist group of some sort taking the lead (although the particular politics of that group, not unsurprisingly, seem to color trajectory of the occupation).

Of course, the heartening thing to take from this is all the involvement from non-politicos and their evident appetite for direct action.

Auto
Nov 24 2010 21:02

Judging by the response on Facebook etc, the general attitude of a lot of the kids can pretty much be summed up as:

'Fucking brilliant, let's do it again'.

Chilli Sauce
Nov 24 2010 21:07

Oh, I know someone who's a staffer for the NUS. I saw him earlier in the month and asked him about the big NUS/UCU demo coming up on the 10th. He informed me they were expecting a big turnout, but was worried that 'some people are talking about occupying the street' and if this happened it would prevent them from holding more demos like this again....

Anyway, pretty indicative in my opinion about the role of the NUS: "responsible leadership" and preventing student struggle from, ya know, undertaking actions that can actually disrupt the everyday functioning of society--and win demands.

Auto
Nov 24 2010 21:13

I think the NUS is screwed. They completely misjudged the general feeling of a lot of students towards Millbank and they are just not satiating the apparent desire of a lot of students for real, concrete action.

Auto
Nov 24 2010 21:17

Christ, there's already 5,000 signed up on Facebook for the 'second day of action' on Tuesday the 30th.

To put that in context, it was about 3,000 an hour ago. A lot of people asking 'what next?' are being linked there.

RedAndBlack
Nov 24 2010 21:22
Auto
Nov 24 2010 21:24
Auto
Nov 24 2010 21:26

Double Post.

Seeing as I've double posted, I might as well post to an interview with an AF-member occupying Sheffield.

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/11/468552.html

Chilli Sauce
Nov 24 2010 21:38

Fuck me! This is nuts!

Auto
Nov 24 2010 21:42

This is all fucking amazing... I just wish they'd call a day of action on a weekend so that workers could join in!

Auto
Nov 24 2010 21:42

This is all fucking amazing... I just wish they'd call a day of action on a weekend so that workers could join in!

Auto
Nov 24 2010 22:01
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Us workers should be joining in by leaving work! If this struggle is to develop a real revolutionary potential it needs to spread to the workplace.

I agree with that, but many workers are in isolated positions, where lone action is a massive risk. I'm just saying that a good way to help spread this newfound militancy to workers would be a weekend protest.

Though of course, you are right that it needs to spread.

wheresmyshoes
Nov 24 2010 22:40

Cardiff University occupation right now.

Students from Cardiff University and other institutions will remain in occupation of the Large Shandon Lecture Theatre in the university's Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff until the university management meaningfully respond to their demands.

By a consensus decision of all students in the room, the occupation puts forward the following demands:

* Free movement to and from the occupation
...* No victimisation of participants in this occupation or in previous or future actions against fees & cuts
* For Cardiff University to issue a public statement opposing any rise in fees
* For Cardiff University to issue a public statement opposing any education cuts
* Full disclosure of university finances
* Meaningful student and staff participation in budgetary and financial decisions

The occupation has received the university's Estates Manager, who refused to respond to the demands the students have put forth.

The occupation has received statements of support of Plaid Cymru and
lecturers' union the University and College Union, in addition to the following organisations:

Unison members came down to show their support earlier in the night as well, so thank-you!

Chilli Sauce
Nov 24 2010 22:37
sabotage wrote:
it would be useful for those of us over the pond to know how the majority of these demos and occupations have been organized and by whom? student unions, political groups, what is the analysis of that?

the only people who'd do this shit here are anarchists, and maybe trots, and a few extra students once in awhile. we have no student unions...

One more link for ya.

Auto
Nov 24 2010 22:43

http://london.indymedia.org.uk/articles/6116

Statement from Goldsmiths university students.

wheresmyshoes
Nov 24 2010 23:03
Refused
Nov 24 2010 23:04
klas batalo
Nov 24 2010 23:10

thanks everyone for explaining how everything is happening. i can only imagine then that conciousness has been being raised through struggle, and somehow many of these students are learning how to start up these things autonomously from previous actions etc? it is like make twitter account, make gmail account, make blog account, invite all your friends on facebook, and occupy...a lot of trots are saying look at the UK "do this" but if we tried to do this here they'd link arms and block like i hear elsewhere, or call for outside demos, saying it is not the right moment yet...

also minus california and a few other states, we are not facing massive student austerity everywhere yet, it has more been like a slow boil...

bulmer
Nov 24 2010 23:11

Video message from Leeds uni occupation http://www.twitvid.com/NRAPB

Not sure if its been mentioned so far but there was a protest at Huddersfield uni including students from the colleges, local trade unionists and people from the local community

klas batalo
Nov 24 2010 23:25
ncwob wrote:
That said, the university occupations seemed to be have planned somewhat in advance, with an activist group of some sort taking the lead (although the particular politics of that group, not unsurprisingly, seem to color trajectory of the occupation)..

See if that happened here, it'd be called adventurist! sad

Caiman del Barrio
Nov 25 2010 00:09

London today was awash with positive energy, high spirits and A LOT of fucking anger. I was really really shocked by the amount of young kids, in uniforms, speaking Turkish, Arabic, Polish, etc. I was also surprised by their willingness to break the ongoing kettles, fight the cops and think for themselves. The only folk calling for peace are the leftists and politicos, all the kids I spoke to were absolutely chomping at the bit to confront the cops and fight for their conditions. The other thing that stuck with me was just how scared the riot cops looked. Stories were circulating about them kicking kids' heads in, saying "you'll never fucking protest again", but I can distinctly recall the facial expressions of the two lines of cops with their backs to each other, hemmed in on the pavement by Cabinet War Rooms with furious protestors on both sides.

Whoever it was who said that this has all developed too quickly for any one group to control it has hit the nail on the head.

I have never felt so encouraged in all my 8 years of political activity. What's the bet the £9,000 figure and the EMA are now "revised"?

Steven.
Nov 25 2010 00:23

it was me that said that. However, as to your last point, I think the government can't be seen to be caving in, and while this has been very impressive it is going to take a lot more to actually have an impact. There hasn't been serious disruption caused to the economy, and that is going to have to happen if they are going to go back on any of these measures.

The danger that the government is if they do go back on this, they will look weak, and workers will be more likely to fight them when they come for our jobs, not to mention of benefit claimants

myshkin
Nov 25 2010 01:38

Two things: the inaugural lecture of the University for Strategic Optimism took place this morning in a London bank branch. Check out the excellent film on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5U6u8w3k14.

Second, a statement of solidary from Goldsmiths students who have joined in with the SOAS occupation - a good little bit of writing on the cuts and the protests today: https://london.indymedia.org.uk/articles/6116.

Android
Nov 25 2010 01:46

Don't think there has been anything posted on what happened in Manchester so far. A friend has just published a personal account of what happened (link)