. Life on Wheels Week 74 – Student Protests, Part Two | Ceasefire Magazine

Life on Wheels Week 74 – Student Protests, Part Two

In a new installment of his 'Life on Wheels' blog, Ceasefire contributor Jody McIntyre reports on the anti-cuts protests.

Jody Mcintyre's Life on Wheels, New in Ceasefire - Posted on Saturday, November 27, 2010 0:00 - 0 Comments

By Jody McIntyre

As we got on the tube to go into town, a friend in Trafalgar Square told us things were “crazy”, but when we arrived, the last 50 or so students were filtering away. What had happened?

The students were not ready or prepared to hang around. In a spontaneous move, they had begun marching down Whitehall ahead of schedule. We soon caught up with the crowd, numbering thousands again.

The riot van is a set up. That was the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw it in the middle of the crowd. The police knew exactly what they were doing, and there is no doubt about it. They said that the van was following the crowd to see where it was going. Now, if the riot van was following the crowd, how did it end up in the middle? Was the crowd moving backwards? I think not.

It is important for people to realise the true function of the police as soon as possible. The police are empowered to protect the government, and the propertied classes, not to protect us. The sooner we understand this, the better. The riot van is a tactic that has been used many times before, and will almost certainly be used again. We have to be smarter than them.

Back to last Wednesday’s events, and the mood was militant. “Downing Street, Downing Street…”, the chant went up. Actually, it was the by now infamous Treasury that we were heading towards; every bit as legitimate a target. I forced my way to the front of the crowd.

With their under-staffed facade of Millbank out the way, the police were back at their brutal best. As we begun to force the metal barriers they had erected out of our way, Constable Askew VW 872 grabbed my chest and begun shaking me violently, screaming “Get back! Get back!”

Considering the crowd of 500 people behind me, I am not quite sure where Mr. Askew was suggesting I could “get back” to. He began to push my chest in, forcing me to gasp for breath, but luckily the crowd pushed forward again and I managed to escape his grip.

Of course, I had never expected anything else from Her Majesty’s police force, but others at the front of the crowd (clearly, they hadn’t met me before) seemed worried, and started to shout at Constable Askew that I was disabled and using a wheelchair. Undeterred, the Constable continued to assault me.

Eventually, around 30 of us managed to break our way through into the Treasury. Unfortunately, the rest never made it. A long round trip to make our way back into the crowd ensued, via Westminster Bridge and almost stretching back to Trafalgar Square.

What followed was eight hours of illegal detention of thousands of people, most of them 13 and 14 year-old students fighting against the destruction of our education system. The cold was almost unbearable, and only slightly lessened by the fires we made in the street. Nevertheless, a clear message was sent to the government; “They say cut back, we say f*** that!”

The media, of course, were not subjected to the struggle we faced that day. At around 7pm, after we had been standing in the freezing cold for six hours, the TV crews were allowed into the crowd, to film our reaction. Show the animals rattling the bars of their cage, and then leave.

However, we were out to ruin their plan. After shutting down an ITV reporter who tried to tell the country that “the police have begun to let people out”, a complete and utter lie, I was interviewed live by Sky News.

“Who are the real criminals,” I asked, “is it the young students who are out protesting for the right to an equal education, or is it the corrupt criminals sitting in the government buildings behind you?”

Their aim on Wednesday was to break our spirit, but they cannot succeed. Next Tuesday will be the next day of action.

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