Warwick Students Hold #CopsOffCampus Protest Against Police Brutality and for Free Education
During a peaceful sit-in at Warwick University last Wednesday (December 3rd), students were attacked by police and security guards using CS spray and drawing a taser. Video footage clearly shows police brutality, with a female protester being dragged across the room by her hair, and another student being put in a headlock and slammed to the floor by a police officer.
These actions were a disgrace, and the students rightly called a protest the day after in response. This protest was attended by over 1000 people, and a number of people spoke to the demo including Sierra Leonean activist Mohammed Wurie, who brought solidarity from Coventry University SU and Coventry Socialist Students.
After the demonstration around 200 students occupied the 2nd floor of the Rootes building, and immediately began to discuss the aims of the occupation and the movement for free education.
Dan Crowter, a member of Coventry Socialist Party and TUSC local election candidate, spoke to the occupation to bring solidarity greetings. He read a solidarity statement from Dave Nellist, which was also on hundreds of Socialist Students leaflets that were given out (click here to read the statement)
At the Socialist Students national conference on Saturday this motion of solidarity with Warwick students was passed unanimously:
“The right to protest on campus
Proposed by Warwick University Socialist Students
- The brutal treatment of Warwick university students at the hands of police during an occupation calling for free education
- Similar violence suffered by students at Lancaster, Manchester and Sheffield universities as well as elsewhere
- The defiant, 1000+ strong protest organised by Warwick students in response to this assault on their democratic rights
- The solidarity demonstrations organised elsewhere in the country, including London
- Last year, students responded to police brutality with a wave of ‘cops off campus’ demonstrations
- There are ongoing attempts to undermine the right to protest, including (but not limited to):
- Police violence used against demonstrators
- Kettling and other repressive policing techniques
- The criminalisation and imprisonment of peaceful protesters
- Repressive anti-trade union legislation
- Attacks on democratic rights have gone hand in hand with austerity and are designed to weaken and repress attempts to fight back
- To send a message of solidarity to the students at Warwick as well as around the country who have suffered these attacks over the last week
- To continue to organise and mobilise for ‘cops off campus’ protests around the country in response to these attacks
- To follow this up with a day of action in the new year which raises the demand for free education and an end to austerity, alongside defending the right to protest on campuses.”
It is clear that the police were told to back off on Thursday after the events of Wednesday, with only a small number of Police Liaison Officers visibly present. This shows the power we have – when there’s a mass occupation, police keep their distance. It is crucial to harness the power that we hold, especially those who may be new to political activity.
We need to organise more mass demonstrations and occupations as part of a wider movement to fight for free education and to change society.