Earlier today the police removed students from an occupation at Birmingham University. Ironically, Defend Education Birmingham , the group behind the occupation, were in occupation in the first place to protest against the repression of protest and the suspension of two Birmingham students for being involved in political dissent.
“The police arrived suddenly with unnecessary and overwhelming force this afternoon. 8 police vehicles (including three vans) and about 40 officers appeared. Police surrounded the occupation and started to break in. At this point the occupiers made a break to escape the cordon and leave without being identified. Most occupiers made it off campus. A few were stopped and searched by the police. One was chased and violently detained with handcuffs until they were searched and their details taken.”
(Full statement on the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts website: http://anticuts.com/2014/11/26/police-break-up-occupation-of-university-of-birmingham/)
Sadly this is not a new situation. It was the violent repression of an attempted occupation of University of London’s Senate House which sparked the wave of #copsoffcampus protests this time last year. Birmingham is also used to these tactics: in January a national demo of 500 students assembled on their campus and a few hours later was kettled outside in sub-zero temperatures for four hours, causing students to collapse and become ill. Police turned away ambulances and (illegally) demanded names of addresses of everyone in the kettle. Those who were refused were arrested by the police and suspended by their university. Later, the police contacted students’ families, intimidating them and suggesting that student protestors were “domestic extremists”. Collaboration between the police and university management has become an established fact of protest on campus. This is why #copsoffcampus was, and remains, a vital cause.
We want to express our solidarity with Defend Education Birmingham. Management cannot repress us forever, and when we stand side by side we will not be intimidated.
On Dec 6th Warwick For Free Education will be attending the Regional Demo for Free Education alongside Defend Education Birmingham (https://www.facebook.com/events/1400045383619412/)