Police make 11 arrests as students march for free education

Event was largely peaceful as thousands of students gathered in London

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The Independent Online

Police arrested 11 people yesterday during a largely peaceful student protest in which thousands marched through London calling for free higher education.

And outside the Tories’ head offices in Westminster, a man and a woman were held after a smaller group of protesters charged at police.

The Free Education demonstration, opposing tuition fees of up to £9,000, was backed by various groups including the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC).

The initial protest started outside the University of London near Euston, and remained peaceful until the demonstrators split up after reaching Parliament Square.

The Metropolitan Police said: “Various missiles were thrown at the officers and protesters pulled down protective fencing around the grass area in Parliament Square.”

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Hannah Sketchley, one of the march organisers from NCAFC’s National Committee, said: “We had an incredible turnout, showing a new wave of student activists are very much committed to the fight for free education.

“The real legacy of this demonstration is the local groups that have sprung up to build for it,” she added.

Controversially, the NUS did not support the march citing “an unacceptable level of risk” to members, a move which NCAFC called “ridiculous”.

Yesterday their headquarters at Macadam House had been spray painted with the word “ scabs”.

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Other buildings were vandalised by eggs and paint including Starbucks and Department for Business on Victoria Street.

Hareem Ghani, a 19-year-old History student from King’s College London said she was protesting because: “The education fees have systematically stigmatised working class families. It has helped promote an atmosphere where only the rich will have access to education.”

She added: “I found the march underwhelming. I think had the potential to be something great, but it wasn’t organised properly. If anything it helps demonstrate how students need to work together.”

Not all details of the arrests have been released, but they do include two for affray, two for assault on police, one for criminal damage and possession of an offensive weapon and one for violent disorder.

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