Feedback/reflection on 10-11-10 education demo

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elsquith
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Nov 11 2010 10:13
Feedback/reflection on 10-11-10 education demo

This is a thread for people who actually participated in the anti-education cuts demo to feedback to one another their experiences and reflect on events.

Also for us to share ideas for where to go from here, keep each other up to date with what's emerging out of this at local level, and how to support one another/solidarity with those who will be scapegoated.

Please be careful not to post anything incriminating - to yourself or each other.

elsquith
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Nov 11 2010 10:37

people can sign a statement against victimisations here (also try to get students' union bureaucrats to put their names down)....

http://anticuts.com/2010/11/11/stand-with-the-millbank-protesters-against-victimisation/

ftony
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Nov 11 2010 11:35

i spent most of the time fixing up people's cuts from the glass, but i ran out of antiseptic wipes very early on, and few others had anything resembling first aid kits.

note to self: be better prepared.
note to others: be better prepared.

Jason Cortez
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Nov 11 2010 11:59

I was as unprepared as the police. But one can't help wondering why it so long for reinforcements to arrive? Was this police saying cut us and this is what happens? Either way it got totally out of their control for a very long while. An excellence day that has restored my faith in the youth of this country. The attempts by the media to say it was just a few hundred 'hard core' militants are totally undermined just by looking at pics of the Millbank courtyard it was rammed with students.

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Raz Chaoten
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Nov 11 2010 14:44

I suggest we all call public meetings at our universitys as soon as we can to try and connect to people who participated in the events yesterday but who might not already be known to us. The meetings can be a kind of debreif/ countering mainstream media bullshit events, highlighting the significance of the fact that so many people openly defyed the stewards and bureaucrats wishes for the day and took autonomous direct action. Really fucking effectively! and obviously, promoting the idea that the wider struggle against cuts should follow this trajectory

what say ye?

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spitzenprodukte
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Nov 11 2010 14:53

I think it might have been a turning point. To see hundreds of students turn back from the dull-as-shit NUS rally to join their mates at Millbank really was heartening. The NUS really seemed incompetent, both in organisation and in really reflecting student anger. Despite Aaron "Despicable" Porters protestations, I felt like the occupation of Millbank was really reflective of the mood of the majority of the march.

The job now must be to organise autonomous anti-cuts groups on campus, free of full-time organisers, and based on direct democracy. A series of rolling occupations and other militant activity could really build on the momentum of yesterday, and cut the NUS out of student organising.

phantomrevolutionary
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Nov 11 2010 15:12

i think we need to be careful about potentially incriminating anybody who was there
but i think it's as important to build on momentum of yesterday's events.
many mistakes were made by people who may not have been in such a situation before, and i think it's important to share the skills we have - let's talk tactics, let's discuss masking up, affinity groups, dearresting
i think that yesterdays events can also provide the perfect departure point for talking openly about 'violence', property damage, and the politics of resistence beyond rallys and useless unions
rolling occupations are a great idea - seizing space with no demands of the powers that be other than the autonomy provided by the occupation of that space
open support and effective solidarity with the arrestees is very important as well and there is already a lot of organisation around that.
would a demo in solidarity with the arrestees be a good way to draw together those who support the actions of those at millbank?

Boris Badenov
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Nov 11 2010 15:23
phantomrevolutionary wrote:
seizing space with no demands of the powers that be other than the autonomy provided by the occupation of that space

isn't an occupation by definition a means to an end?
I think what happened yesterday, i.e. the smashing of Millbank, is a good example of students rejecting the frigidity of A-to-B-march politics, but I don't see anything particularly "autonomous" about it. IMO, the demo is supposed to be about stopping the cuts, not an exercise in temporary autonomy.

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 11 2010 15:48
Weeler wrote:
phantomrevolutionary wrote:
seizing space with no demands of the powers that be other than the autonomy provided by the occupation of that space

Wrong lesson entirely to take from the day's event. Won't have much truck here.

well, seizing spaces for the purposes of assemblies isn't making a demand, and could be a very useful thing in the context of a mass movement (should one materialise).

kritkal
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Nov 11 2010 18:10
Jason Cortez wrote:
I was as unprepared as the police. But one can't help wondering why it so long for reinforcements to arrive? Was this police saying cut us and this is what happens? Either way it got totally out of their control for a very long while. An excellence day that has restored my faith in the youth of this country. The attempts by the media to say it was just a few hundred 'hard core' militants are totally undermined just by looking at pics of the Millbank courtyard it was rammed with students.

I agree with all of this.

I was at the Millbank tower before the bonfires were started, and the police helicopter was already circling overhead. At this point it was just a load of students chanting. 30 Millbank wasn't the official rally point and therefore in my opinion as soon as this large crowd gathered they should have been moved on by police, which would probably have been able to be done even with the limited police available (at this point the crowd wasn't violent, so their wouldn't have been too much resistance).

The bonfires were then lit, which should definitely have made it a priority for the police. And a sign that they had underestimated the crowd significantly and that it was time to call in reserves. However, whether down to lack of numbers or bad tactics, the police seemed to step back and let it unfold as if expecting it to die down by itself. Before the crowd got violent (and at the start as just a few eggs/banners were being thrown) me and my friends were in amazement that the police was not doing anything. The bonfires were burning for a good hour before the first items were thrown, and even then it was a slow development into the riot that followed. Surely the metropolitan police have some riot police available all the time, and a slightly larger number for when their is a protest (even if it is rated as low risk). Why were these not sent to Millbank as soon as the fires started?

However I think the protest did go a bit too far (ie. the fire extinguisher being dropped).

Edit: I was there however had no plans before-hand, I stayed in the open and did not: go inside, throw something at/attack any police officers, knowingly disobey any instructions from police officers, cause any damage, burn anything or do anything else illegal.

Caiman del Barrio
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Nov 11 2010 18:43

I think you have to expect heavy police response - probably coordinated with uni authorities - to ANY sort of student organising from now on, as well as moles in anarchist/autonomous groups, etc.

EDIT coincidentally, i also read in the paper yesterday that the Home Office's new counter-terrorism strategy will have Student Islamic Socs as one of its main targets.

EDIT 2 university students need to opening dialogues with 6th formers, schoolkids, non-UCU grade uni workers, etc, etc.

elsquith
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Nov 11 2010 22:25
Quote:
EDIT 2 university students need to opening dialogues with 6th formers, schoolkids, non-UCU grade uni workers, etc, etc.

Yeah, this is crucial. I think there were lots of schoolkids on the march (e.g. see this account) It was already talked about today at Sussex at a meeting... Apparently 24th Nov has been called by a few groups as a day to mark (when legislation gets voted on?) and we talked about the possibility of co-ordinated school/college walkouts on this day.

also, with regard to the question of occupation as a means to an end/lack of demands...

the student struggle has now been unquestionably elevated to the national level. any occupations that take place within universities are going to be understood within the context of the proposed fee increases across the board - making demands of our administrations is no longer really sensical, but neither is making demands on the government through a local action. occupations will be strengthened by one another - that they just occur will itself exert some force. we should always be clear about our objectives in taking action, and these discussions should be had in our organising. and also, occupation without demands in rejection of asking for reform of those in power/acknowledgement of interconnectedness of oppressions beyond education cuts is a familiar tactic from international student struggle (e.g. the california occupation movement's slogan "demand nothing, occupy everything").

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 11 2010 23:35

I dunno mate, I seem to recall people at MIllbank screaming demands at the tops of their voices.

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Steven.
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Nov 12 2010 16:38

I wasn't there because I was at work, but I would like to say well done to everyone!

It would be great if some of you would post up your experiences or accounts of the day here.

Or if any of you took photos you could create an image gallery of them - click submit content - images

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Ellar
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Nov 12 2010 17:55

I went along and like allot of other other people I had spoken to I was quite prepared for just a march from one place to another but once I got there and realised the shear size of the march my hopes were lifted.

I never managed to find the Radical Workers bloc which I assume was just swallowed by the huge crowd, however I did meet a couple of Anarchists from canterbury but eventually myself and my friend also lost them in the crowd. By the time I we got to parliement the sit down protest had started and everyone was just kinda milling around when I recieved a text from my sister who said student's had taken over tory hq! A whole load of students who had heard similiar things started to head down there and we followed.

When we got there the crowd at millbank must have been numbering around three thousand people, the vast majority just seemed to be 'normal students' without masks and very few distinct political groups were visible. Hundreds of students were pushing forward into the millbank courtyard and whenever a group of riot police came in they were hassled by the whole crowd. Once inside I witnessed one of the most amazing instances of spontaneous direct action I have ever seen (and I haven't seen much), a group of about thirty riot police pushed through the crowd to reinforce those at the doors of the building, only to be confidently fought back by student's.

Everytime a window was smashed or a cop was hit directly by a missile a huge scream of joy and support was let off by the majority of the crowd. The general feeling at the peak of the action as I saw it was one of anger focused not just at police but at the idea that these cuts are just and inevitable. I won't forget it for a long time. I plan to write a article in a local Anarchist paper that will be obviously better then this post.

Well done to all those here who were there on the day and to all the other students and workers involved

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 13 2010 11:33

for the hard of reading:

wrote:
Just a note - especially given "This is a thread for people who actually participated in the anti-education cuts demo to feedback to one another their experiences and reflect on events." that threads on this forum will be pro-actively moderated.

a load of petty point-scoring's just been deleted. start a new thread if you must.

phantomrevolutionary
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Nov 15 2010 16:28

The radical workers' bloc was there, but barely. There were a couple of banners and a few flags, and a handful of people dressed up in black. It wasn't tight as a bloc but interspersed with other demonstrators and it didn't stay together to the end of the march, and I never heard any plans or talk of action communicated within this bloc on the march.

One thing that should be wholly apparent to everyone by now is that it wasn't just a 'small hardcore minority' that instigated the gradual storming of Millbank (heard the first group just walked in - it wasn't guarded at all, and there are pictures of people just lounging about with placards in the armchairs) but a massive diverse crowd of really up for it students. Most people did not have masks, and are going to get fucked for it - really useful would be to expend a bit of effort trying to spread understanding of the need for protecting you identity, ie its not just for anarchists!, and maybe a supportive thing to do would be to take extra masks to hand out if things do happen to kick off at future events.

Quote:
The bonfires were burning for a good hour before the first items were thrown, and even then it was a slow development into the riot that followed. Surely the metropolitan police have some riot police available all the time, and a slightly larger number for when their is a protest (even if it is rated as low risk). Why were these not sent to Millbank as soon as the fires started?

Yeah - this is obviously suspect. And only for the Tory party HQ! That's obviously where they wanted us to go. The TSG were ready at Cowley street at the LibDem HQ - when a breakaway crowd ran up the street (100m max) from the main demo route they were ready with a van and jumped out to form a line. I think that the business and innovations centre was also protected when people tried to have a go there?

GuyDeBord's Optician
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Nov 15 2010 22:42

Lots of the chants were not just rubbish 'Boo, hiss, cuts, give us some money 'cause we're students' but included mentions of working-class people, unionism etc which makes me optimistic about the future anti-cuts movement.

I'm not sure if that wasn't just the activist fringe, though - lots of people were clearly at their first demo and rather lukewarm about participating beyond marching; this seemed to disappitate after Millbank, mind!

Mike Harman
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Nov 16 2010 04:11
Quote:
The TSG were ready at Cowley street at the LibDem HQ - when a breakaway crowd ran up the street (100m max) from the main demo route they were ready with a van and jumped out to form a line.

News reports at the time said the van arrived just seconds or a very few minutes before protesters did, so while it might have been there more promptly than at Millbank, I don't think it was sitting there all day waiting.

Harrison
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Nov 16 2010 21:15
Jason Cortez wrote:
The bonfires were then lit, which should definitely have made it a priority for the police. And a sign that they had underestimated the crowd significantly and that it was time to call in reserves. However, whether down to lack of numbers or bad tactics, the police seemed to step back and let it unfold as if expecting it to die down by itself. Before the crowd got violent (and at the start as just a few eggs/banners were being thrown) me and my friends were in amazement that the police was not doing anything. The bonfires were burning for a good hour before the first items were thrown, and even then it was a slow development into the riot that followed. Surely the metropolitan police have some riot police available all the time, and a slightly larger number for when their is a protest (even if it is rated as low risk). Why were these not sent to Millbank as soon as the fires started?

i thought this as well. it was definitely allowed to happen by the police

my lecturer, although some vague kind of leftie, in class the next day went along with the idea that somehow it was 'planned and initiated by anarchists/anti-capitalists'

my only regret was the fire-extiguisher fiasco (the impact of which seems to have a lot of parallels with deaths of people in the burning of the greek bank earlier this year), and that it did not evolve into a full-blown occupation with everyone inside the building.

Jason Cortez
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Nov 16 2010 21:55

It appears that on next Wednesday walkout, folks are being encouraged to blockage the LibDem HQ by the self appointed leaders of the EAN. This seems to a recipe for disaster, with the likely result of people being kettled for hours and possibility severely beaten if attempting to get out. leading to the demoralisation of the students and the re-establishment of authority of the police and the state.I think it is important that we don't just go along with this, just because it has been called. I think we should put out the message of why we shouldn't do this and suggesting a roaming fluid march(es) visiting various targets on the day. What are anyone else's thoughts?

Jason Cortez
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Nov 16 2010 22:13

Actually that was Kritkal.
I am not convinced either way and was just flagging up the possibility. I don't think it is accurate to say that the police let it happen. Over fifty arrests on the day, injuries suffered by numerous protesters and the eventual kettling of 250 remaining protesters speaks otherwise. What I feel maybe a possibility is that senior officers felt the demo was low risk and that they were willing to allow Millbank tower to become a focus, to make point about the cuts they are facing. But regardless of whether it was simply unpreparedness, or degree of slack being given in the beginning, I don't believe that senior officers wanted to suffer such a humiliating defeat or serious risk of injury to their officers. Whilst they will of course use this opportunity to argue against cuts to the force and for a return to the heavy style of policing demonstrations used up till the death of Ian Tomlinson, it would be big gamble to leave officers high and dry to achieve this. As the base line in policing is 'we have got your back, if you have got ours' and if the rank and file thought otherwise it would have a serious affect on morale. So whilst it is possible, I think it unlikely.