Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/656/11092
Police attack 'save EMA' protest in Leeds
School, college, and university students in Leeds were met with police violence on a recent peaceful protest against Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) being axed.
Jay McInness, Leeds Met Socialist Students
Protesters were violently attacked with batons outside Lloyds TSB in the city centre.
A number of completely unprovoked injuries were inflicted. The most horrific was the arrest of college student Matt Dawson after he was set upon by multiple police officers.
Eye witnesses and film footage on YouTube show officers snatching a flag from him before unleashing a savage and unwarranted hail of abuse. In the assault his arm was broken before he was dragged 300 yards and thrown into a police van.
The remaining protesters were then subjected to the infamous 'kettle' technique used by police on the student protests last year. One police officer made it clear that they were 'kettling' our demonstration to make it less visible to the public, less likely to get news coverage and to have less resonance.
After police officers were heavily reinforced, the protest was then force-marched to nearby Leeds Metropolitan University.
The protest then regrouped and marched to Bridewell Police Station where Matt was thought to be held and demanded his release. A heated negotiation ensued which gained some media attention. More arrests were attempted but were prevented by the crowd.
Since then West Yorkshire Police have refused to comment but have charged Matt Dawson with possession of an offensive weapon (his belt buckle).
Socialist Students demands that the charges against Matt Dawson are dropped. Due to pressure so far an internal investigation has been launched bringing further into question police handling of peaceful demonstrations.
This is not the first time that police in Leeds have harassed peaceful protests - they 'kettled' the 30 November demonstration and repeatedly harassed and threatened to arrest Socialist Students activist Ian Pattison.
In The Socialist 2 February 2011:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party Marxist analysis