“Yesterday we witnessed an utterly brutal police response to a peaceful sit-in at Senate House. People were thrown to the ground multiple times, kicked, throttled, wrenched into headlocks, threatened with tasers, CS sprayed, grabbed, struck, assaulted, and forcibly carried out of the building. That brutality should be the focus of today’s solidarity demo – but it must be situated in perspective. It must, for example, be considered only as a microcosm of the routine harassment, violence and abuse people of colour and of other minorities endure daily – this is a day too to remember Mark Duggan, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, to remember the abhorrent judicial manipulations, the mendacity and deceit, the base and visceral and terrible realization that they were murdered, with complete impunity; this is a day to remember their lives and their hopes and their yearnings and how they were tragically seized from their loved ones. This is a reality the majority of us here have the privilege to not often confront. However many bruises and scars I’ve received from cops, however many times I’ve been punched and kneed and slammed to the ground, however many times I’ve been misgendered by them, I have the choice to phase in and out of that violence. I am, for the most part, shielded from it on a daily basis. Mark Duggan did not have that choice. Eric Garner did not have that choice. Mike Brown did not have that choice. Our struggle is significant, but only if it is conceptualized within the context of that privilege, within the framework of liberation: only if it is integrated into a broader recognition of the police as a racist, transphobic, classist institution of state violence, as enforcers and protectors of a violent and oppressive socio-economic regime. We should not simply say cops off campus: we should say cops out of our communities. We should say abolish the police entirely. We should say cops are antithetical to the ideals of free education because they are responsible for imposing and sustaining the very same system which results in the marketization of our universities, which persecutes and represses our University communities, which engineers the very same disadvantage and oppression which prevents people from accessing Higher Education. We should, too, challenge and dismantle that system which demands this violence, which requires it to maintain itself, which is predicated upon violence and propagates violence.
But as well as saying ACAB, we should realize that although there is an acute terror in confronting the reality of that system, there is also a unique inspiration and empowerment. Activism is arduous – it is, for myself and I know many others, a flurry of sleepless nights; shirked self-care and study; perpetual vacillation between punishing, disenchanting sadness and the utmost euphoria; it is seconds, minutes, hours in prison cells which can’t quite be traced, which dilate and mystify and fade into oblivion; it is a state of flux, bound somewhere between fantasy and reality, a stasis of promise and despair; of internal conflicts and multiple houred debates which will never find resolution; it is mental health problems we can’t quite process or understand; it is daring to dream within a world of horrors and atrocities. It is all-consuming and obsessive, incarcerating as much as it liberating. In that prison cell after the Free Education Demo, and yesterday, I felt every surge, every motion, of that turmoil. But I walked out of the police station and was greeted by groups of cheering comrades, by hugs and food and drink, by phone calls and facebook messages from people across the country, by solidarity in its most pure and beautiful form. Despite everything, despite that pain and brutality, people were there – people cared, not for some functionality of comradeship, but because of genuine and intrinsic affection. My bail conditions are suspension from campus apart from pre-scheduled lectures and a prohibition from contacting Alistair and Daniel, two comrades – two friends – whom I love dearly. This is how power seeks to demoralise and dismantle movements – by isolating us, by rending the connections which bind us together.
Security are not there to protect us, police are not there to protect us, and management are not there to protect us. They do not operate in our interests. We cannot politely supplicate them and expect change – because they benefit from our repression, they profit from our subjugation. But it is in those moments outside police stations, it is in caring and supporting one another in the fallout of repression, it is being there for one another through our hardships and experiences of oppression, and not just in the elation of action, where we realize: we do not need them. We have found strength and courage in one another. We only have each other to depend upon – and there is solace in that. There is a shattering of the illusion that some higher authority or power will safeguard our welfare – and, though at first that exposes us and makes us feel vulnerable, it is also empowering. It is also the realization that we are agents, that we are responsible for our futures and for each other. It is the recognition that change, revolutionary change, is rooted in those bonds we share with one another, in the expanse of our compassion, in the fortitude of our companionship, in the depth of our empathy and trust. When we endure adversity, we endure it together: when we occupy, we occupy together; when we are lost and anguished, we are lost together, and we find our way together. Today is an incredible, interconnected amplification of the solidarity that exists and which tempers our day-to-day struggles and friendships. I want to thank everyone here today – I want to thank everyone who’s posted on social media, who was prepared to sleep in a police waiting room so we wouldn’t be alone, everyone, especially from Birmingham; I want to thank my Warwick comrades, and I want to apologise for not being at the demo today. But most of all I want to thank them not just as comrades, but as friends who have been alongside me through police brutality, through struggle, through sadness, I want to thank them for their kindness and for every hug and every piece of advice. The revolution is here; it is between us. We must fight together, but we must also heal together. So the focal point of this demo is not simply that cops are scum, but rather that they will not break us. They will not break our movements, and they will not break our love for one another.
Love and solidarity.”