Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/296/13899
Student Protesters Charged
"It's difficult to put into words how horrified I was by what I saw in Catford that Thursday. I've always felt safer on seeing a police officer but I doubt I'll ever feel like that again. Now seeing a riot van speeding past I worry about what mayhem they are going to cause and violence they are going to inflict on the very people they are supposedly meant to protect. On that bus I saw more violence than I've ever seen in my life. Violence, in my opinion, entirely and needlessly caused by the police", said eyewitness Jo Sachs-Eldridge.
An ISR member
On Day X, the day the war in Iraq started, Jo Sachs-Eldridge was one of more than 30 school students held hostage on a 185 bus outside Catford town hall by the police.
The students were making their way to Parliament Square to join thousands of other young people protesting against the war in Iraq.
The police stopped the bus and started to take the details of every student at the same time as they started to ask other passengers to leave the bus and obstructed school students who wanted to do the same.
When we questioned the police they seemed very concerned about the truancy laws and had decided that would be the best way to prevent further anti-war action by youth. We waited patiently for this harassment to stop and for the bus to take us to Parliament Square.
After 30 minutes riot vans arrived; more police entered the bus and physically attacked everyone who didn't look like a school student. Shouting that the students needed their parents' permission to be out of school, they violently arrested two parents, leaving their son alone on a bus surrounded by police.
In total six people were arrested that day, three were taken into the police station and were held for up to 12 hours before being released.
The official police story is that the anti-war protesters had started intimidating police and had organised a riot.
The police are charging Ren, Marcella and Karl, the international co-ordinator of International Socialist Resistance (ISR).
Charges include 'assault resisting arrest', affray and 'ABH resisting arrest'. ISR is mounting a defence campaign against these charges, against police harassment and violence and will continue to fight for the right of school students and students to strike.
In The Socialist 19 April 2003: