Police In Punch Up With Protestors

The police have been accused of brutality after they pepper sprayed one student and allegedly hit another over the head during yesterday’s protests.

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Police have been accused of brutality after using pepper spray while arresting a student during yesterday’s protests.

As part of a planned protest against the Government’s public sector cuts students marched through central Cambridge yesterday armed with drums, cow bells and megaphones to show their anger.

At the end of the protest Police arrested two of those involved, King’s student Jacob Wills and sixth former Miles Watson. After Watson tried to stop cops arresting Wills he was reportedly pepper-sprayed, throw to the ground, and held in a headlock. Cambridge Defend Education initially released a video of the arrest but it has since been taken down.

The arrest took place on King’s college property, despite King’s porters trying to get rid of the police. Basim Musallam, King’s College Vice-Provost, said: “The police were told by the Vice-Provost, the Admissions Tutor, and numerous porters that they had absolutely not been given permission to be on college property.  The police wilfully disregarded everything that they said.”

King’s college authorities are scheduled to meet with the police today to discuss the incident.

There were also allegations of excessive force used earlier in the day, as the protest moved through the Grand Arcade shopping centre. During the protest, students threw toilet rolls from the balcony of the second floor onto shoppers bellow. Police then tried to question one student who they allegedly saw throwing the loo roll, but other protestors tried to intervene.

Protesters complain as Police hold a student in Coast for questioning

There was then a struggle between protestors and cops, during which one Officer allegedly hit people over the head with his walkie talkie and hit the girl they were trying to question.

The student being questioned, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Tab: “Something hit me on the head and then I saw a walkie talkie fall on the ground. I don’t know who hit me, but I don’t think it was intentional.”

But others who saw the incident were less optimistic. An anonymous student who saw it happen said the Officer: “took out his walkie talkie and was hitting people on the head with it. He hit the girl for no reason. It was police brutality.”

CUSU President, Rahul Mansigani said: “This is not the first instance of police violence against Cambridge student protesters: it must be the last.

“The police must seriously review their approach to policing student protests, and we expect Cambridgeshire Police to enter into serious discussions with CUSU and the University about how they intend to improve their policing of student protests.”

But at least one student defended last night’s arrests. In an email sent to King’s students, an anonymous King’s undergraduate said: “There are two sides to every story. Those that were arrested allegedly spat at police, who at the end of the day were simply doing their job.

“I realise that there are those who like to make the police out to be some horrible monsters intent on crushing the poor students of King’s college, but in reality they are people, with jobs, who when spat at are within their right to arrest people as they see fit.”

Both students who were arrested were released in the earlier hours of this morning.

The protest itself began at 4pm, with 40 protestors gathering outside Great St Mary’s Church. Alice Martin, who studies MML at Emmanuel, said the protest was to show: “solidarity for the national movement against the bastardisation of our education system.”

The protestors marched down King’s Parade, before entering the Guildhall, home of the Cambridge council. Protestors tried to enter a council meeting but were quickly kicked out of the building.

They then marched on the Grand Arcade, trying to enter Topshop chanting: “Topshop shame on you, we pay taxes why don’t you.” However, Police and security prevented them from entering and it was then that they moved to the second floor and began throwing toilet roll.

Police block protestors from entering Topshop

Reaction to the protests was largely positive. Onlooker Elise Jones told The Tab: “I think the Government is taking the piss. I agree with the protests.”

Jenny, from London, said: “It’s quite impressive to see people getting together and actually doing something, which you don’t see in many other cities.”

But those at work were less supportive. Whilst the protest passed by The Cow, one office worker shouted: “Get a job! Hippies!”

Many of those involved in yesterdays protests are expected to file complaints against the police following the arrests and the general handling of the demonstration.