The N09 protest march was not so much a reignition of anger as the resmothering of an ember – the battle over tuition fees was lost in the kettles of Westminster Square on 9th December 2010. While that lit fires for a few, for many more the fight seems beaten out of them. On N09 the students were overwhelmed, penned in on all sides & shuffled through a gauntlet of mocking office blocks & Territorial Support Group riot cops.
The Lincoln SU’s apparent policy of distancing itself from any concern for its students’ future was evident from the fact that it only managed to confirm the coach 2 days before the event, & the president left it until there was only 2 hours left to book a seat. The attendance was good considering the short notice, a party of 15-20 students. The handful of reps that were on the coach deserve thanks for their efforts, they are clearly swimming upstream.
Our coach driver was personally intimidated by an officer on the outskirts of central London & we were told the emotionally blackmailing lie that he would be held responsible for any trouble at the march. The driver is as much a worker as anyone & stands to lose from the government cuts just like us, & I respect that he was not cowed by a thug in uniform.
The amateurish, undisciplined Black Bloc, a far cry from the militant & mobile force seen on M26 spent more time trying to protect its people from the frequent snatch squad invasions & undercover meatheads than being able to engage in any meaningful propaganda actions.
Also protesting on the day were taxi drivers & the electricians’ rank & file militant movement. Keeping the students & sparks apart was a highly damaging tactic – some reports show the sparks were very keen to show support to the student protesters, & separating us is a clear divide-&-conquer strategy – the ingenuity of student protest allied to the experience of workers is a powerful force.
The cops continued their intimidation long after the march had dispersed, herding a group which they far outnumbered down into the tubes & in a circle back to where they started on the ridiculous pretence of ‘keeping order’ – a post-fact justification of the multiple public order powers in place.
It is tempting to ask “why resist an act that was passed a year ago?” Some would answer that resistance justifies itself, but “why resist for the sake of resistance?” is a question that needs addressing or the movement may already be doomed. If our future is not to be one of crushed hopes & dead dreams them we have to remember why we fight in the first place.
The government has no respect for the right to protest & has no grounds to deny that the police are a force used to suppress dissent. The Met, as they were politely informed on several occasions, can shove their rubber bullets up their arse.
The following report is from a comrade who was involved in a mass arrest following the rally at Moorfields. It was originally posted as a comment on this indymedia article: https://london.indymedia.org/articles/10951
That was fun…
Published: November 11, 2011 18:25 by anch0red
I’d assumed that all of the dispersal groups had suffered the same treatment till I heard that the sound system at the back made its way just fine. That’s what you get for being at the front I suppose.
My favourite answer from the police for why we had been arrested was that they’d made a mistake. Cheers guys. Certainly set panic in a couple of siblings I met in there who were on their last arrest before their suspended sentence would stop being suspended.
So after an entirely subdued attempt at a militant demo, full of snatch-squads of so-far peaceful masked demonstrators, after huddling together in fear we all de-blocked after the march was over, having realising people kept wandering off and leaving any individuals left masked was putting them at risk. so the demo had not only been peaceful besides police intervention, but led entirely by the police. I’ve read accounts of a couple disturbances in some parts of the march, but that wasn’t visible from where I was.
So we decided to de-bloc in the crowd dancing seeing as the numbers had dispersed, and we figured that the police would come in at some point, seeing as the shielded cops had lined up nearby. the police actually announced to us that we would need to leave by half 5 and the people on the sound system said that at 5 they were going to go party at St. Paul’s. This seemed like a good idea to everyone, so we walked onwards the police line and said what we intended to do. you could even call it a request.
The Met accepted and led us on a long route, with carefully placed FIT cameras. Eventually they must have gotten communication through that we were not in fact supposed to all go to St. Paul’s, and they wanted to put us in dispersion groups of about 30. we tried to have a rest but they told us to hurry up and not dawdle only for the front end to be kettled. I assumed that the rest of the crowd were getting the same treatment. 5 or so of us were let out to disperse but we pointed out that if we were all heading the same way it was pointless, so they allowed us to choose to go back in to what was now a loose kettle.
After a few minutes the kettle tightened and we asked if we were being contained now, and they said we were arrested, though we got conflicted views for a good 20 mins. One said it was their mistake, and one made a statement to us, which was recorded by a few people. I’d earlier got a text about this ‘section 12’ from Sukey, which made me nonethewiser. I was told that the same had been used for the arrests at the Trafalgar demo to go in tents, so it didn’t make much sense to me.
There was a lot of shock from the more moderate people in the crowd. The time was taken to ensure everybody had a bust card. We were then marched in a small thin line through town, with a bit of minimal conversation with largely well-humoured po-po, though some seemed aggravated that they all had to be out. when they said we were going to the station to be de-arrested I had assumed that they meant the police station so I was a bit surprised to be at a train station. The public seemed baffled.
Went through the barriers. I no commented the questions but I didn’t cover my face with my hand with the cameras and did as they said regards having my image taken because I wasn’t sure about my state of arrest, and I know that at an arrest in the station they can use force for having your photo taken. I wouldn’t mind some clarification of that. we gathered in a group of 5 on the other side of the barrier before being told to get down on the platform. We were offered no receipt for our search, so anyone not aware of the conditions of section 12, and not returning to St. Paul’s would have no help. We got in the train to Moorgate for Finsbury Square. Luckily there were 3 cops available, as we would have had a hard time explaining our lack of ticket at the other end. 2 of our party had no intention of being at Moorgate and instead wanted King’s Cross. The baffled police asked why they had gone in the wrong direction, so we informed them that we had no choice of platform.
So yeah, fun times!