Police arrested 36 people yesterday after clashes with protesters at the University of London Union (ULU).
The protesters marched in a rally on Thursday against police presence at the campus following the arrest on Wednesday of five demonstrators in an occupation protest. Wednesday’s demo was in protest against the closure of the student union and working conditions of outsourced staff.
“Nothing was said. The police were trying to clear the crowd of people. I turned my back to [the police officer] to kind of walk away, he pushed, I kind of turned round to see who it was – ‘Why are you pushing me?’ The punch came and I went straight to the floor, then I got up and left.”
Another protester, Helen Singh, a philosophy student, claimed she was pushed over by officers, who were “punching people indiscriminately”. “We were walking away from the protest. I was pushed to the ground and my glasses smashed into three pieces.”
We know that protests can be pretty emotionally-charged (and potentially dangerous) places to be, but have the police learned nothing from previous demonstrations? University of London students say the heavy-handed police response is calculated to deter any protest movement. ULU president Michael Chessum told London Student:
“Today there was an unprecedented level of police violence on campus. It was a transparent attempt to assault, intimidate and deflate protest, and it will not work.” He added: “We will only come back stronger.”
In May, the University of London made the decision to close the student union, which has had a high profile in the last few years from mobilising students to campaign against tuition fees. The decision was criticised as a ‘shameful’ attack on student rights.