The Socialist 15 December 2010
Workers and students unite!
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Interview with 24 November protesters
On the 24 November day of action, 8,000 people tried to march in central London only to spend nine hours being 'kettled' by police with no access to food, water or toilet facilities.
Many of the images used to depict that day showed a rusty old police van that appeared to have been left in the middle of the crowd to provoke an attack.
Here Suzanne Beishon talks to two of the school students who linked arms around the van to try to prevent this.
Why did you decide to join the protests?
We both strongly disagree with the increase in student fees and the cutting of EMA and thought it was a good opportunity to express that.
What was your experience of the protests up until the police 'kettle'?
At the beginning of the protest we thought that the atmosphere was great and it was all very peaceful and enjoyable.
How do you think the police handled the demonstration?
Although a lot of the police we came across were very nice, I know a couple of friends who were hit with batons unnecessarily who were both in school uniform, which shocked us.
What was it like to be 'kettled'?
Being kettled was definitely not very fun at all. It was very cold and neither of us were really dressed for it.
Why were you protecting the police van?
Because we knew that the media was going to focus on the vandalism of the van etc as opposed to the positive side of the protest. A small number of people were getting way too caught up in trashing the police and they were forgetting why they were actually there - which was frustrating.
What do you think of the media's response to the protest?
Most of the media did decide to focus on the small outbreaks of violence and they blew it up to seem like it was much more than it was, using the same clips over and over and not really showing all the good things that were happening elsewhere.
What has the response been like since the protest? Do you think students will be put off further protests and demonstrations?
Though the media made a big deal about the violence, we don't think that it has affected public opinion particularly badly and nobody we know has been discouraged from attending future protests. I think Tuesday's (30 November) protest also proves that students haven't been put off - even though it was snowing!
In this issue
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students