I'm intrigued as to how little discussion there has been here about the student protests in London against the coalition government's planned massive rises in university tuition fees and cuts to the education maintenance allowance, so they can get away with the 80% cuts they just made to the universities' budget.
The latest demonstration in London was not organised by the National Union of Students, which has been quite spineless throughout all of this, but by a group of students who oppose the cuts. There have been several protests organised, and almost all have included examples of police violence against protesters. Thousands were "kettled" in Parliament Square, surrounded on all sides by police armed with batons, and subjected to repeated charges by police horses. They were not allowed to leave, nor were they provided with food, shelter or toilet facilities. One protester had to be taken to hospital for emergency brain surgery after being hit on the head by a police baton, and many others suffered similar - albeit more minor - injuries, and were refused treatment by the police. Later, hundreds were kettled on Westminster Bridge in the freezing cold until close on to midnight, without even the room to sit down - the entire reason for this seemed to be to humiliate the protesters, and make sure they didn't try protesting again.
Of course, the violence was not all one-sided. Police were hit with paint-filled baubles, rocks, snooker balls and even homemade riot shields, while several government buildings had their windows smashed. Graffiti was daubed on the statue of Winston Churchill, the Cenotaph was also vandalised, and a car carrying Prince Charles was attacked.
In the end, the bill to treble tuition fees to £9000 pa passed by a majority of 21. The police are now investigating the use of water cannons to quell future protests.
Of major importance is how the protesters were originally denied the right to protest outside Parliament - people had to actually break in to Parliament Square. It seems to me that our right to protest has been eroded, and I for one am not happy about that.
The student community is also divided in this - the NUS did not support the protest, and refused to condemn police brutality. Many students around the country are calling for a vote of no confidence in the president of the NUS, and are looking to replace him with someone who will actively support demonstrations and occupations.
YouTube - BBC Jody McIntyre interview - BBC interviews a protester who was pulled from his wheelchair by police
Rachel Maddow Show - Rachel Maddow on the violence
YouTube - BBC Newsnight - Paul Mason report on Tuition Fees protest, 9th December 2010 - BBC newsnight report from the protests
YouTube - Police horses charge protesters 09/12/2010 - Mounted police charge protesters
Login | Facebook - Piece by someone who was kettled
Police tactics at tuition fees protest questioned after further angry clashes | Education | The Guardian - Guardian article on police tactics