STUDENTS DayX3 NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION
Protest and march against University tuition fee increases, 09th Dec. 2010
Over 20,000 students from around the country converged on Central London today to march for a third time to protest against the coalition government's plans to
massively increase University tuition fees, which will ultimately mean that far fewer students from poorer backgrounds will be able to even consider a University
education because of the massive debts incurred which will follow them for the rest of their working lives.
I joined the days proceedings in the afternoon as they were assembling in Trafalgar Square. To throw the police off-guard they suddenly took off, en mass, through
Admiralty Arch in a bid to get to Parliament Square, which had been forbidden. That evening the House of Commons was voting on the Education Funding Bill, and the
students were determined to make sure that Parliament heard their protests.
The day started in a good mood, but by the time they reached Parliament pockets of disorder had started breaking out - Flares were lit and thrown, crush barriers and
construction site fencing ripped up to be used as weapons against the massed ranks of riot police and later on the mounted police. I had to leave by around 3pm, and by
the time I got home and turned on the BBC news all hell had broken loose outside Parliament. Protesters were pelting the police with lumps of masonry, metal poles and
scaffolding. They lit large fires, broke down the doors to The Treasury and the new Ministry of Justice buildings, smashing many windows, daubing graffiti everywhere
and generally smashing up the joint. Many people were arrested and many people hurt, some badly.
As the police gradually started releasing the by-now contained protesters in small numbers, several small groups headed up to Oxford Street, where they smashed the
windows of the flagship TopShop store (owned by Sir Phillip Green who is being attacked for shovelling billions of pounds of what should be UK taxable income into tax
haven accounts owned by his wife as part of a legal tax dodge), and in Regent Street they engulfed the Bentley containing Prince Charles and his horse-faced wife
Camilla who were in the process of swanning orf the the Royal Variety Performance! The protesters started kicking the vehicle. They broke the windows and threw a tin of
white paint over the car. One was not amused!
Needless to say the Bill was passed in Parliament tonight, and the students have vowed to continue their campaign of demonstration and civil disobedience...
All photos ⓒ Pete Riches
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