Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/10680
Bristol - heavy handed policing on 24 November
A large game of cat and mouse, is the term that has been adopted by many to describe the demonstration against tuition fees and education cuts that took place in Bristol on Wednesday.
However being on the demo myself, it was a fantastic day which pulled together over a week's worth of activity from students across the city.
4,000 students and workers took to the streets of Bristol, in coordinated action that united students, lecturers and pupils from the University of the West of England (UWE), University of Bristol, City of Bristol colleges and secondary schools.
The march began at Bristol University's Senate House. Students began to march, surrounded by riot police. We marched from Senate House, down Park Street and onto College Green, where the police expected us to stop our protest.
Students however wanted to march into the city centre, we broke though the first barrier they made but were prevented again quite quickly and were unable to get though to the city centre.
Students demanded "let us march" to the police, but soon people on megaphones called for the demonstration to turn back in an attempt to take one of the side alleyways into the city.
However these roads were also blocked off and the protest was forced back up to the top of Park Street by the police.
Students continued to chant and wave homemade placards with slogans such as 'thought is not a commodity' and 'Adopt a Prof.
for X Mas.' The liveliness of the demo did not die down nor did the anger directed towards the Lib Dems and the Tories.
We attempted to march along another route past the BRI hospital, we were again blocked by riot police who were this time more forceful in keeping us from marching.
It seemed that the police were ready for a fight, however the students on the demo just wanted to protest peacefully.
It soon became clear that we had been kettled by police. Some students sat down in protest, then a trickle of news came though that some students had managed to occupy the University of Bristol's student union building.
In solidarity with these students, the demonstration went to march to the student union, but the riot police went to move to block our way.
Luckily a section of demonstrators acted as a diversion and ran in the opposite direction causing the police to follow them, leaving us free to join the occupying students.
The police however pushed through the demo and refused to allow any more students to join the occupation, kicking students back away from the doors.
The protest again turned around and headed back to park street, running down the road back towards College Green and to a nearby college.
Around 300 students were able to get into this college in an attempt to occupy. However this ended quite suddenly when the fire alarms were activated and the building was evacuated.
I don't like writing about this demo and putting so much focus on the police actions, however their heavy handed actions unfortunately did define it to an extent.
This was repeated up and down the country at other local demos, certainly a response to the national demo on 10 November.
But still this demonstration only came together because of the anger and energy of students in Bristol, also the large number of school pupils who came out in their school uniforms in protest at the abolition of EMA, which has been largely unreported in the mainstream media.
The nature of this demo is certainly linked to the fact that this is a generation that has not protested before.
However this is a generation that is taking a lead in saying NO to the Con-Dem government. Frankie Langeland
NB: The occupation of UWE is still going on, see http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/10657/23-11-2010/occupying-in-bristol-against-university-fees-and-cuts for details.