Fee Demo Gets Nasty
The peaceful protest in London against raising tuition fees descended into violence after the reforms were passed.
Violence erupted tonight as thousands of students from across the country took to the streets of London hoping to get MPs to vote against raising tuition fees.
Despite CUSU Pres Rahul Mansigani promising a candlelight vigil outside of Parliament to bring the day to a close at 5.30pm, the end of the protest was in fact signalled by hundreds of students being kettled.
There was a strong Cantab turnout after Mansigani urged students to book coaches from Cambridge to London so they could take part in the protest.
The demonstration came less than a week after the end of the Old Schools Occupation, and many of those involved were there.
Students began by peacefully marching through central London at noon, and by early afternoon they had reached Parliament on the embankment. Protesters then found themselves blocked by rozzers, who were attempting to stop students getting any closer to Parliament. However, they eventually managed to push through.
Once they had entered Parliament Square the demonstration began to turn ugly. Fires were lit, flares were thrown and several coppers were taken to hospital, with some getting seriously injured. Meanwhile, horse units and riot police were dispatched in an effort to contain the violence. Police even had paint bombs and bricks thrown at them.
One Cambridge student called the atmosphere of the march: “crazy, angry and resolute.”
However, other students argued that the protesters are not entirely to blame. Ben, a 3rd year Johnian, told The Tab: “there were a few people who went just to be destructive, but the overwhelming majority just went with friends to chant slogans and hopefully have their voices heard.”
He added: “You got the impression that some of the riot police were relishing lashing out at anyone.”
Clashes between police and protesters came to a head in the evening, after both resolutions to raise the cap on tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 were passed by a majority of 21; less than the Government’s theoretical majority of 80.
Mansigani updated his Facebook status accordingly: “This Government should be ashamed of itself. Our education system now faces an unprecedented attack.”
When news of the vote broke, more projectiles were thrown, and a window to the treasury was broken as students expressed their anger.
Police were forced to kettle demonstrators and rely on horse units to drive them back. Controversially, police also decided to charge at the kettled crowds on horseback, although their intentions were unclear.
Gordon Pal, a 1st year student from Clare said: “the whole charging on horseback thing is a little Peterloo, and has probably caused more problems than it has solved.”
Thankfully, despite the violence, no Cantabs were seriously hurt. However, todays events have left many feeling disillusioned, disappointed and betrayed by the Government and the police.