More arrests at student protests

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Thousands of students attended further protests in London and Manchester against cuts to higher education and public spending on Saturday.

Sixteen people were arrested in Manchester and a further group detained in London as the government was accused of “betraying an entire generation.”

Students in Manchester marched alongside members of TUC (Trade Unions Congress) and Unite, in a protest which the police said had started out as “very good natured, very convivial.”

A breakaway group of roughly 150 protesters caused disturbances across the city centre, as students joined with trade union to voice their anger at the cuts.

A spokesperson for the Greater Manchester Police said a number were known to have armed themselves with chef’s knives and razor blades.

Neil Wain, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said, “It is clear this group were intent on getting into the city centre to incite violence and cause damage to people living and working in our city.”

The demonstration in London took place without any large-scale confrontations, although six people were detained by police. Students marched through Whitehall and Westminster, some joining the protests outside the Egyptian embassy afterwards, and some “still roaming around the West End” in the late afternoon.

Meanwhile, NUS president Aaron Porter was forced to pull out of a student fees rally after he was surrounded by demonstrators calling for his resignation.

Protesters shouted “Students, workers, hear our shout! We want Aaron Porter out!” and “Aaron Porter we know you, you’re a f****** Tory too!”

Birkbeck University and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) have already passed motions of no confidence in Aaron Porter, as students vocalise their doubts over his fitness to lead the student movement.

The NUS Vice-President, Shane Chowen, had earlier been pelted by missiles, including eggs and oranges, as he spoke at the event and was booed off stage.

An Oxford student who was present at the London protest said, “I found the day quite disappointing, quite tiring. We were much less of a collective force than before.”

Reflecting on a day of anti-government demonstrations, the Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said, “The Government respects the right of all citizens to engage in lawful and peaceful protest.

“No student will be asked to pay up-front costs, there will be more financial support for poorer students and those who go on to earn the highest incomes will make the largest contributions after they have graduated.”

The Oxford University Congregation will meet to debate undergraduate fees and funding in the Sheldonian Theatre on Tuesday of 4th Week.

The Congregation is an official body comprising senior members of the University and its staff. As such, students will not be allowed to attend the debate.

A member of the OEC (Oxford Education Campaign) said, “We have to get as much discussion and noise about this as possible out there. Whether we go down legitimate channels or use more disruptive measures, we have to enable genuine debate.

“It’s not just disruption for disruption’s sake.”

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