Brutal Repression of Students in UK Amid Mainstream Media Blackout

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UK students protesting corporate attacks against their rights to education, control over their universities, and freedom of expression were brutally repressed by the British police in cooperation with university officials.

Sussex ASN ‏@SussexASN25m: “#nuspolicylive Abolish the MET and then abolish yourselves. #copsoffcampus

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Security pull on the legs of one of the occupiers. Photo: Oscar Webb, http://london-student.net

An independent network of over 100 students occupied the headquarters of the University of London at Senate House, demanding that ”the University of London Union (ULU) remain in student hands – democratically run by students – and has its block grant returned, that all outsourced workers at the university are awarded a pension, that the ULU oppose the privatization of student loans, and that the financial statements of the University’s academic departments and non-academic services be published so that they can be scrutinized so that the University’s decisions can be properly held to account by the community.”

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Occupiers barricaded themselves in the building’s main management corridor. Photo: Oscar Webb, http://london-student.net/

They demanded free access to the occupation and senate house for students and staff, with the exception of senior management. (Here is their entire list of demands).

Police acting like “like brainwashed military thugs”

Hours later, with no injunction, eviction order, or warning being granted, Met police and university security troops stormed into the building, attacking occupiers and bystanders.

Huw Lemmey @spitzenprodukte: “Major police violence reported in Senate House foyer: kicking and beating students at random.”

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A police officer pins down a protester, who was later arrested. Photo: Oscar Webb, http://london-student.net/

In this picture, which went viral on social media, cops laugh next to the blood of a student, whose head they had smashed on the ground.

@howardsaid copsoffcampus

@howardsaid #copsoffcampus

David Graeber @davidgraeber: “Major police violence reported in Senate House foyer: kicking and beating students at random. “

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The following video shows the brutality of the assault by the police forces against students being forcefully evicted from London Senate House. Students shout at cops: Who killed Mark Duggan? You killed Mark Duggan!”:

No mainstream media showed up to report the events, although The Guardian posted a video showing a cop repeatedly punching a student saying “Don’t sell our debt” and “Justice for cleaners:

At least three students were arrested during the eviction, among them, Oscar Webb, editor @LondonStudent. [Later edit: In the first night of the police attack, they captured 5 students.]

Sussex ASN ‏@SussexASN25m: “Sorry, this horrific video is from last night at #occupysh

A protester posted disturbing images on youtube, exposing the cops’ brutality against a student who was running away after the police violently broke up the Senate House occupation. Another student was threatened with arrest by an out of control cop threatening: “Swear again and you get nicked!” This graphic video was taken on Malet street:

Jamie Bellinger ‏@JamieBellinger23m: “Once again, the @MetPoliceUK have a lot to answer for. Officers are looking more and more like brainwashed military thugs. “

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Aside from the video posted by The Guardian, showing the unprovoked cop punching a student repeatedly, the mainstream media has essentially censored these events. As students organized protests against the police brutality, demanding they be kept away from universities, #copsoffcampus trended 3rd on Twitter in UK.

Knox O ‏@knox_o10m> “The fact we’re getting used to this is scary” – heard at demo #policeviolence #copsoffcampus.”

#sussex

Students fight back against police harassment and surveillance, explain why they need #copsoffcampus

Police infiltration, surveillance, elected student leaders banned from political activities on campus, the arrest of students for simple acts of expression like chalking slogans on sidewalks, send a clear and constant message. There can be no reasoned discussion on these issues. There is no longer anything to talk about. Certainly, democracy has absolutely nothing to do with it. The pursuit of knowledge and understanding have been declared nothing but a consumer product, or else a form of technical training to increase overall economic productivity; these are the only way these matters can be discussed; if anyone wishes to gather to object to this, to gather in places of learning to insist that knowledge and understanding are not mere economic goods but something precious and valuable in their own right, they can only do so by permission of those who are telling them otherwise; otherwise, they can expect to be physically attacked.

The university is dead.

The question to ask now is not, how do we bring it back. That’s impossible and quite undesirable. The question is what new forms of genuinely democratic self-organization might rise from its ashes? To even begin to ask this question we must first of all get rid of the police.

Derek Wall ‏@Anothergreen24m: “The University of London should be renamed the University of shame, freedom to protest, not for a corporate university?”

bookbloc @londonstudent

bookbloc @londonstudent

The Officers of University of London Union issued a statement relating what happened and expressing support for 5 Sussex students who were expelled following protests:

Occupations are a legitimate form of dissent. When our university exploits our staff, shuts down our student union, and are utterly unaccountable to the students and staff that give it life and make it function, students have no choice but to gain leverage in whatever way they can.

Tonight’s events constitute a significant escalation of the dispute on campuses. At Sussex University, five students have been suspended by their university management for taking part in similar action. We send them our solidarity: sign the petition to defend them by clicking here.

The terms of our dispute are clear. On one side is a university management that is attacking its staff, shutting down student representation, and that systematically colludes with police in order to keep control of its affairs. On the other is an increasingly united campaign of the academic community – in all its forms – committed to reclaiming our university. We are clear which side of the line we fall on. Anyone who thinks that what happened tonight was reasonable is not fit to run a university.

Demanding #copsoffcampus, students protested again, peacefully, until 15 police vans showed up.

Sam Goose ‏@gausie31m: ”Today’s protest was as a peaceful rally on the street outside UoL. In less than half an hour, there were three police vans… #copsoffcampus

At Russel Square, police were again very aggressive, but students resisted the cops’ assault, organizing a ‘Bookbloc‘ outside the Senate House. They used a “Homage to Catalonia” shield in their defense.

@rspiscane

Students arrested, resistance spreads: 11th december,  #copsoffcampus National Day of Action

At least 38 protesters were arrested, students and legal observers. The students captured by the police were taken to police stations in remote locations.

UCL Defend Education @UCLanticuts5m: ”38 people arrested at #copsoffcampus being taken to Croydon, Sutton, and Bromley police stations – the furthest away stations the could use. ”

Michael Chessum @michael_chessum8m: ”Arrestees being taken to Croyden, Bromley, Sutton and probably Lewisham. People organising support outside. #copsoffcampus”

Will Black ‏@WillBlackWriter19m: “Students are fast becoming the new miners. #copsoffcampus

Occupy Senate House ‏@SHoccupation18m: ”To those arrested: resistance continues at the station. NO COMMENT. Solidarity, comrogues. #noncompliance #copsoffcampus

Hundreds of people already announced they would join a national protest against cops’ brutality and universities’ privatization. This is how they explain it, on their event page on Facebook:

In the past month universities across the country have been subject to unprecedented levels of violence from the police, targeting a resurgent wave of activism against the privatisation of the university system.

The scale of the police’s response has never been witnessed on British universities. Students beaten, strangled, having teeth punched out, dragged across roads, and violently bundled into vans. This cannot be allowed to continue.”

We stand for an education that is public and democratic, free for all. Campuses should be places for inquiry, critical thinking and dissent. Across the country, students and workers are fighting for that vision. Students and workers united hold all of the legitimate power. We are the people who give our institutions life and make them function. The only power that management ultimately has is police and state violence. They can’t win the argument, but they can – and do – call in the cops, assault and intimidate us. With an agenda of austerity, the authorities are behaving in an ever more violent and repressive way. Our response is to mobilise harder.

Edinburgh Anti-Cuts ‏@EdinUniAntiCuts29m: ”Lots of people touting next Wednesday as a national day of action against police brutality. Let’s make it massive. #copsoffcampus

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Solidarity with 5 students expelled in retaliation by Sussex university

Five Sussex students were suspended and excluded from the University by the Vice-Chancellor, following protest action on campus: “The students received notification by email that their rights to access the campus and teaching have been revoked, citing the grounds that the students represent “a threat to the safety of well being of students, staff of visitors to the University”, “a potential hazard to sustaining the University’s policies on Health and Safety”, or due to “criminal charges… pending or where the student is the subject of police investigation”. You can sign the petition against the suspension of the five Sussex students here.

Sheffield Strikes Back occupy Arts Tower

Sheffield Strikes Back, a newly formed broad left group of Sheffield students, have occupied the Arts Tower – the tallest university building in the United Kingdom. „The group, which includes activists from Sheffield Autonomous Students, Revolutionary Socialists Society, Labour Students, Socialist Students and the Living Wage campaign, walked into the lecture hall at about 7:30pm and have now claimed a major lecture theatre and the building foyer.” They released a statement regarding their decision to occupy the building, which is the second tallest in the city:

“Once again, as students of the University of Sheffield we have gone in to occupation in solidarity with those on strike. Our umbrella group, Sheffield Strikes Back, contains members from a variety of organisations – Revolutionary Socialists Society, Sheffield Autonomous Students, Labour Students, the Living Wage Campaign as well as many non-aligned student activists from a wide range of political viewpoints. However, we are unified in our opposition to the mistreatment of University staff by management, both locally and nationally. Our occupation will further disrupt the running of the University on a day when we believe no staff and no students should be crossing a picket line. We invite anyone who agrees to join us in support.”

Suki Ferguson ‏@SukiKF32m: „At times like this I try to hope that the police & government are simply radicalizing future powerbrokers.” #copsoffcampusoccupy4Facebook event for 11th December Day of Action ##copsoffcampus

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Jennifer Baker is the founder and editor of Revolution News revnewsmedia@gmail.com