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

Joseph Kay
Nov 25 2010 01:46

i spoke to some kids getting released from the kettle at the end of the night in Brighton, 15-16 year olds. we asked them what they thought needed to happen next, they said 'well we've got to do it again. once they'll ignore us, but keep at it and they'll have to listen'. i fucking love random 15 year-olds having a clearer strategy than pretty much the whole left combined.

also, there was an amazing moment where two trots i know with a mic and PA stood with hands on hips watching 2,000 kids blocking the road and dancing on phone boxes saying 'what the fuck do we do now?' (this was meant to be the end of the march, but there was too much energy for speeches about 'where to go next' so we just went there). and the beautiful moment of Poundland getting looted - it sits between a bank and a McDonalds. possibly the most astute communist target in the circumstances grin

wheresmyshoes
Nov 25 2010 01:47

Cardiff Uni have now got a blog, more will be updated tomorrow morning promise! http://cardiffoccupation.wordpress.com/

Mike Harman
Nov 25 2010 03:04
Steven. wrote:
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

Yeah I don't see any quick climbdown happening either. Michael Gove on BBC last night was saying he wouldn't listen to violent protest, only 'reasoned argument', protestors shouldn't get the 'oxygen of publicity'. When the interviewer asked if would he change his stance on tuition fees/EMA due to reasoned argument instead, he laughed in her face (or that might have been a few seconds later but this was the general gist).

The TUC has already staked out the 26th March demo in London. So far that's going to be the earliest of any official union activity against the cuts, except maybe some localised strikes where cuts are brought in early (is it me or is that also extremely close to the start of the new financial year). If the student movement continues throughout the next four months that'd be great, but it's equally likely that it'll be hung out to dry by itself, and things will have to start all over again (or not really start at all) with everyone else, and a much smaller number of radicalised students being involved by that point. I'd love to be wrong on this but at the moment this seems like a likely scenario.

Auto
Nov 25 2010 08:33
Mike Harman wrote:
The TUC has already staked out the 26th March demo in London. So far that's going to be the earliest of any official union activity against the cuts, except maybe some localised strikes where cuts are brought in early (is it me or is that also extremely close to the start of the new financial year). If the student movement continues throughout the next four months that'd be great, but it's equally likely that it'll be hung out to dry by itself, and things will have to start all over again (or not really start at all) with everyone else, and a much smaller number of radicalised students being involved by that point. I'd love to be wrong on this but at the moment this seems like a likely scenario.

Well the TUC are moving incredibly slowly, no doubt in the hope that Labour will somehow have become relevant by March...

... but I'm heartened to see that there are a *lot* of posts on the events page saying that the TUC is being too slow and calling for action now. Even if the monolithic TUC can't be moved, I'm thinking there might be room for independent action.

mons
Nov 25 2010 09:42

http://www.occupiedoxford.org/
is the website for people occupying Radcliff Camera in Oxford. Maybe about 70 there at the moment apparently, another dozen were smuggled in in overnight.
There's a demo at 11am, and a trade-union organised demo at 5 30, both in support of the occupation.

mons
Nov 25 2010 09:48

I have heard there are still sixth formers, Brookes, Ruskin and Oxford Uni students and others in occupation.
In the education campaign and other meetings, like Auto said, there has been no leftist influence whatsoever. Some anarchists, not sure about most people.
All meetings have used consensus and jazz hands, and everybody seems to like it...
Is it right that only Oxford, Cardiff and UCL are still in occupation?

no1
Nov 25 2010 10:15
Joseph Kay wrote:
also, there was an amazing moment where two trots i know with a mic and PA stood with hands on hips watching 2,000 kids blocking the road and dancing on phone boxes saying 'what the fuck do we do now?' (this was meant to be the end of the march, but there was too much energy for speeches about 'where to go next' so we just went there).

This must also be the moment when a whole new group of students hijacked the protest :

Quote:
Chief Supt Graham Bartlett appealed for anyone who witnessed criminal activity to contact them.

He said protesters who joined the planned march at Dyke Road Park and followed the agreed route caused minimal disruption and used stewards to direct protesters towards Victoria Gardens.

But protesters who were unconnected with the original march "hijacked" the protest at this point and a number of breakaway groups caused disorder, criminal damage and disruption in the city, said Mr Bartlett.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-11837275

Cops are so stupid, always the story of the violent minority that ruin it for everybody else, even a 5 year old will see through that one.

Auto
Nov 25 2010 10:16

I've heard Newcasltle and Plymouth are still in Occupation at least... I think a few others may be as well.

The Oxford Occupation has just recieved a message of Solidarity from BMW workers:

"Keep up the fight, in solidarity all trade union members BMW 5/625 Branch (Cowley)"

This comes in addition to other solidarity messages from oxford community:

Ruskin UCU
Branch seretary of the CWU
Oxford City Council Unison
...Coalition of Resistance
Oxfordshire Union Health Branch
NUT National Executive member Chris Blakely & Gemma Fowler
Community and Youth Workers Union of Oxford (Unite)
Oxford Anti-Cuts Alliance
Dr John Parrington, University Lecturer in Pharmacology, Senior Tutor inMedicine, Worcester College, University of Oxford (pers. capacity)
Councillor Mike Rowley (personal capacity)

...which I think is amazing.

Auto
Nov 25 2010 10:23

Second day statement from Oxford Occupation:

Quote:
Further to a request from the Oxford University Proctor to meet the ‘leader’ of the occupation, the occupation has released this statement:

The Oxford Occupation has no leader. We act on the basis of consensus and, as already stated, our demands are non-negotiable. Until the university makes a public statement reiterating its opposition to cuts to education funding, and pledging not to raise fees or privastise, we will continue our occupation.

It has always been our intention to ensure the library is open to the community and we are committed to keeping the library open today. If anyone is prevented from accessing the library, we would like to make clear that this is entirely the decision of the university, in direct opposition to our expressed wishes.

We are in discussion with library staff as to how to best facilitate the continued use of the library by the public.

// education free for all //

Auto
Nov 25 2010 10:47

After reading the line about 'We are in discussion with library staff...' I enquired as to whether the Library staff were onside. One of the occupiers responded with:

'they are onside and have been really lovely and helpful.'

Which sounds pretty positive.

Joseph Kay
Nov 25 2010 11:05


no1 wrote:
This must also be the moment when a whole new group of students hijacked the protes

'according to police, at this point a group of violent minority anarchist hijackers numbering about 2,000 materialised from thin air while the marchers disappeared. This hardcore minority consisting of the entire demo ruined it for everyone.' mental mental bastards.

no1
Nov 25 2010 16:48

The Guardian estimate that something like 130'00 students took part yesterday. Do people think that's realistic?

EDIT - I mean 130'000

Rob Ray
Nov 25 2010 12:06

You mean 13,000?

Liverpool was at least 3,000, Brighton was 3,000 (according to cops), London was 4,000, Manchester 1,000, Bury 1,200 which puts it at around 12,000 just for the biggest events. Including Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol etc I'd say the total's well above that even at a conservative count.

I reckon that was one of the biggest victories in terms of screwing up cop responses, multiple protests meant their best personnel were tied up dealing with relatively small numbers in London, leaving inexperienced and poorly-supported regional chiefs dealing with big and mobile crowds elsewhere. As long as that tactic keeps up and people don't fall into the trap of centralising protest on the major cities their whole approach of bringing power to a point is fucked.

Auto
Nov 25 2010 12:10
Rob Ray wrote:
You mean 13,000?

No, the number quoted was 130,000. I think he just missed out the last zero. wink

wheresmyshoes
Nov 25 2010 12:27

URGENT update -

40 occupiers remain in the Large Shandon Lecture Theatre. They are happy for lectures to continue but Uni management are refusing to allow this. the Uni also are refusing toilet, food and water access.

At noon the occupiers request a rally in their support, outside Main Building, Park Place. The contact for inside the occupation is 07590008249

Also if you can't make the demo please *politely, but firmly* email or phone the Vice-Chancellors office to protest the denial of human rights to students fighting for their education:

CONTACT VICE-CHANCELLOR'S PERSONAL ASSISTANT

029 20 874835 FarnhamS@Cardiff.ac.uk, copying in casella@cf.ac.uk

wheresmyshoes
Nov 25 2010 12:15
Rob Ray wrote:
You mean 13,000?

Liverpool was at least 3,000, Brighton was 3,000 (according to cops), London was 4,000, Manchester 1,000, Bury 1,200 which puts it at around 12,000 just for the biggest events. Including Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol etc I'd say the total's well above that even at a conservative count.

I reckon that was one of the biggest victories in terms of screwing up cop responses, multiple protests meant their best personnel were tied up dealing with relatively small numbers in London, leaving inexperienced and poorly-supported regional chiefs dealing with big and mobile crowds elsewhere. As long as that tactic keeps up and people don't fall into the trap of centralising protest on the major cities their whole approach of bringing power to a point is fucked.

My sister was at London, she said there was a good 10,000 at least.

Rob Ray
Nov 25 2010 12:34

Yeah thought it was a bit low after I pressed send, but was the last number I'd heard before knocking off work and going for drinks.

ernie
Nov 25 2010 12:37

In Exeter yesterday about 300 students, mainly from the local college, gathered in the centre of the city. They were joined by a few students from the uni, and some lecturers. The atmosphere was militant and jubilant. They really felt they were making a show of their anger. After about 30 minutes there was a spontaneous surge to demonstrate down the Hight Street, which caught everyone by surprise, especially the police and those who appeared to be organising it.. Everyone marched to the Cathedral Green and then marched back again. I missed the last part of the demonstration but there was some form of meeting at the end where people could speak.

Given that Exeter is hardly the epicentre of the class struggle in Britain such a turn out and its militant feeling says something about the wider situation.

One of the slogans also spoke volumes "We want a future".

As an old lady said to everyone at the bus stop "its good to see people willing to stand up for themselves" .

Those participating were very open to anyone who wanted to join their demonstration, and were very willing to take the leaflet we were giving out. We gave out about 200 leaflets in 20 minutes.

As others have said it was the atmosphere of jubilant militancy and openess that rightly struck one. A really heart warming experience and full of promise for the future.

400 kids trying to storm Brighton cop shop, that didn't get on the news!

One thing is for certain many thousands of young people were learning first hand what capitalist freedom of expression really means: kettling and riot police.

Demogorgon303
Nov 25 2010 12:44

According to the local paper, the numbers in Exeter were actually much bigger. The estimate is about 800.

Ed
Nov 25 2010 13:12

Two quick reports from Solfed people in Liverpool and Manchester:

Liverpool SFer wrote:
Yesterdays protests went really well after meeting up at 12pm at the guild of students and were led off into town after around 20 minutes of waiting and the stupid SWP members trying to coral people. We then marched with various shouts “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts” etc. We arrived at town hall where a daft labour councillor tried to agree with the march and tell people labour would have done this how much they are against the cuts. A few people cheered him on which I believe was daft, we then done various sit downs and marches through the city taking over Liverpool one and bold street. We went to Hanover streets Tory HQ, where the people attempted to kettle us then we egged them and the HQ and escaped. We then got back to the guild had a sit down and then occupied a university building and the guild, we occupied the guild for a few hours until the police had to forcibly drag people out. Despite certain idiots trying to hijack the demo all went well and we need to do some more and I believe we should be organising something again soon on a weekend and occupy the universities.
Manchester SFer wrote:
A number of secondary schools in Manchester went to great lengths to stop students leaving schools to join the anti cuts demo. This is not new at the time of the anti war demos one school with a high percentage of muslin student actually locked students in breaching just about ever health and safety law and regulation. This time it seems a number of schools called in the police to prevent students leaving schools.

At one large secondary school in the south of Manchester a well organised campaign had resulted in a large proportion of students intending to walk out at of school at 12 noon in order to join the demo which started at 12.30. However when they attempted to leave by the main get they were met by staff who prevented them from leaving. Not to be deterred a number managed to "escape" by other exits. However when they got to near by bus stops they were met by "pupil support managers" and police who escorted them back to school.

Matt_efc
Nov 25 2010 13:49

I'd have put manchester as much bigger than 1000. The occupation blog is claiming 6000 and the police are claiming 2,500-3000. It was much bigger than I expected, splitting off into 3 different demos at one point to keep the police on the move after they tried to divert the route.

I'll do a proper write up of it later, but I just found out my best mate has been made redundant so I'm off to go and cheer him up first

Mike Harman
Nov 25 2010 13:52

Warwick occupation ended after no access to toilets and 'heavy handed security' - http://warwickagainstthecuts.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/statement-following-this-occupation/

Auto
Nov 25 2010 14:03
Mike Harman wrote:
Warwick occupation ended after no access to toilets and 'heavy handed security' - http://warwickagainstthecuts.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/statement-following-this-occupation/

Still, they seem to be seeing it as a victory and are very enthused so good on them.

Mike Harman
Nov 25 2010 14:24
Auto wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
Warwick occupation ended after no access to toilets and 'heavy handed security' - http://warwickagainstthecuts.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/statement-following-this-occupation/

Still, they seem to be seeing it as a victory and are very enthused so good on them.

Yes the statement is a good one, and the fact they're having a meeting at 5pm the next (same?) day is also great. There seems to be near euphoria after yesterday.

Jason Cortez
Nov 25 2010 14:26
ncwob wrote:
Jason Cortez, if ur about, I'm curious about that school which you posted that report

report here

Auto
Nov 25 2010 15:25

BBC Reporting that student protestors have occupied Simon Hughes' constituency office.

No article as yet.

Auto
Nov 25 2010 15:33

Apparently it's 20 LSE students wot done it.

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/11/468755.html

Mike Harman
Nov 25 2010 15:34

This is on twitter as well, but I don't see anything beyond that the initial announcement.

flaneur
Nov 25 2010 16:04

antoniamautempo
Nov 25 2010 16:06

ciao,

interesting report below from kingston - which describes certain differences in 'rebellious impetus' between school and university students. question is whether the cuts in ema is a major motivation of the kids - which is basically part of a proletarian household wage and could politically be addressed as that...

------------------

About 200 school students marched through Kingston from the council offices via the FE College (where they were joined by sixth formers) to the Kingston Uni arts campus. They stood outside the campus chanting 'walk out, walk out!' but got no response from the uni students there (they said they were 'too busy working, unlike you school students who are obviously enjoying your day off'...). The school students eventually let themselves in, running around inside the building opening the doors to lectures and shouting 'walk out'. They got no response. The fire alarm was set off. So the uni students were forced to walk out but didn't join the march.

The school students then marched to a rally at the other uni campus for a few speeches, but left before the Vice Chancellor spoke, marching around Kingston blocking the roads and the roundabout - a positive response from motorists - and going to another secondary school where they chanted 'walk out!' again. The response there was much more positive than at the uni, despite teachers blocking the exits. Eventually there were about 500 students, who dispersed when the small numbers of uni students who were part of the protest decided to go to central London. Some of those school students have been told they will be suspended for walking out.