The First National Day of Action

Posted: November 24, 2010 in Protest March

November 24th 2010, somewhere between 2000-4000 students, teachers and lecturers gathered in central Bristol to protest against the proposed cuts in education, probably the best attended Bristolian demonstration since the anti-war protests of 2002. Having congregated outside Bristol University’s Senate House to hear union reps give short speeches at 12:30, the protest moved down to Clifton triangle, past the Wills Memorial building and down Park St, which was filled by protesters, the majority of whom were aged between 14 and 25. At the bottom of Park St the march was blocked from entering the centre by a police cordon, and so most of the march went back up Park St where protesters were hemmed in on all sides by police cordons.

In spite of this, large groups managed to break out, including those who went to the Bristol University Student Union building and have occupied the building. Near the intersection of Park St and Park Row about three small fireworks were set off, injuring no-one and doing no damage to anything. However already this is what mainstream media reports have decided to focus on. Small groups of protesters continued to give police the run around for several hours this afternoon.

In sum the demo was well attended by young people, many of whom have never been on a protest before. There was a general sense of anger and hostility towards the ConDem coalition and in particular the cuts to the EMA and the proposals to triple university fees while completely withdrawing state funding from the arts, humanities and social sciences.

One of the biggest issues at the protest was police officers covering their numbers. Despite having being repeatedly told that it is illegal for police officers to cover up their officer numbers when dealing with public demonstrations, notably after Climate Camp at Kingsnorth and then the G20 demo in London last year, it seems that some coppers still don’t want to comply and make themselves identifiable. The technique used to enable officers act in a violent and unlawful manner without being identifiable by their victims. The police have repeatedly reassured the public that this practice no longer happens. It would appear that this is not true.

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