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National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts blames ‘heavy handed policing’ after student demonstration in Central London turns violent

Protesters vow to hold another day of action this month and also outline plans for a national student strike in early February 2016

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Wednesday 04 November 2015 22:29
Student protest turns violent

The group behind today’s mass student demonstration in Central London has blamed ‘heavy handed policing’ after the peaceful march turned violent.

Using the popular hashtag #GrantsNotDebt, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) took to Twitter and said: “Policing today most violent and repressive we have seen in years. Horrific attacks on protesters.”

Shortly after, the group - which has been relentlessly campaigning against the abolition of higher education maintenance grants, as well as ‘mounting debt and increasing cuts’ - released a statement on the day’s events.

In the statement, the NCAFC described how, towards the end of the demonstration, ‘the march was met with some of the most heavy handed policing we have seen in years’.

It continued: “Once protesters reached the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - the office responsible for this latest round of attacks on education - riot police violently stormed the crowd.

“The police forced a large section of the protest into a kettle, resulting in panic and confusion. At least 18 protesters were violently arrested. We condemn this unnecessary and aggressive response.”

Witnesses at student protest

According to the Metropolitan Police, however, officers made 12 arrests for public order offences, and added: “Shortly after 15:10hrs today, Wednesday, 4 November, a small group of protesters threw paint outside the Home Office and another group attempted to push their way into the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) building but were prevented by police.

“During this spell, a small number of smoke bombs and eggs were thrown at police outside BIS.

“A cordon was put in place across Victoria Street at the junction with Dacre Street, SW1 to prevent disorder.”

Reflecting on the demonstration as a whole, the NCAFC described how ‘today witnessed one of the biggest and most vibrant student demonstrations in recent years’, and added: “We have shown that this government’s attempts to attack the poorest in society - and the poorest students - will not go unanswered.”

The campaigners have now outlined plans for another day of action on 17 November - and also for a national student strike in early February 2016 - and said: “We will build a movement that can win - and we will not be deterred, either by the violence of the police, or the myth that protest doesn’t work.

“Because from history and from student movements all over the world, we know that it does.”

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