Support our Arrested Friends!

As many will know, during the abhorrent events that took place on 3rd December 2014, when activists demonstrating for free education were brutally assaulted by the police and University security, 3 of our beautiful comrades were arrested. Alistair, for allegedly “assaulting a security guard”, and Dan and Luke for supposedly “obstructing a police officer”.

We refuse to acknowledge these police actions as anything but illegitimate acts of state oppression. These totally unsubstantiated claims have been used divisively time and time again by the University management to try to undermine and silence the movement. We will not stand for this.

Although everyone present suffered that day, what these three have beenput through is beyond horrific. At the time of the arrests they were subjected to a disgusting level of violence and aggression at the hands of the police and University security. Collectively, they were thrown to the floor, grabbed in headlocks, kneed in the face and had tasers held to their backs. Since their arrests, they have had outrageous bail conditions enforced on them. This means they have essentially been banned from organising and participating in activism at Warwick and in the local area. They have even been banned from contacting each other. Although the chain of events that followed the attack on 3rd December have been powerful and inspiring, Warwick For Free Education have felt a huge hole in their activism without the presence of our wonderful comrades, and we must not forget that their rights and welfare have been viciously attacked by what has happened.

We also want to make it clear that we could not have achieved everything that took place at the end of last term without our unbelievable network of support, both here at Warwick and beyond, of which these three comrades are an invaluable part. That is why it is our duty and obligation to reciprocate the solidarity that has been shown to us by offering them our unyielding support.

Alistair, Dan and Luke have been summoned to Coventry Central Police Station at 3pm on Monday 12th January, where a further decision will be made on their case. It is totally unclear what will happen. Bail conditions may be dropped, they may be extended. This is a very difficult time for them, but it is fundamental that they know they are not alone, and that their struggle is our struggle too.

So join us outside the station at 2:30pm for a peaceful and non-disruptive show of solidarity; to not only offer our support as friends and comrades, but also to take a stand against state repression and show that we cannot and will not be silenced.

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A New Term Begins: Our Response to the University Management

At the end of last term, we issued University of Warwick management an ultimatum.

Following violent attacks by West Midlands Police against peaceful protesters on university property, captured on film and condemned by countless groups including Amnesty International, we looked to one another for the support and solidarity that the university refused to offer us. Gathering together, we staged a thousand-strong “Cops off Campus” demonstration, followed by a week-long occupation style protest, to remind our university that we would not accept any suffering or intimidation at the hands of oppressive and violent institutions. We would not be silenced as members of our community were assaulted, and we would not be relegated to the role of spectators to watch, displaced, as our concerns were casually denied.

Coming together in the space that we had claimed from our university, we issued a series of demands to the University of Warwick management and West Midlands Police.

These can be found here: https://warwick4freeducation.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/warwick-university-occupation-demands-04122014/

We gave the University of Warwick management just over a month to engage in productive dialogue with us, and attempt to adequately satisfy our demands. Despite media backlash, solidarity campaigns nationwide, and challenge from amongst the staff and student bodies, the University of Warwick management failed on both of these counts. They continue their obstinate refusal to denounce the act of state violence that students were subjected to on their watch. By refusing to acknowledge even the possibility of its illegitimacy, they are refusing to recognise violence towards Warwick students as anything but acceptable. We will not accept this.

Not only did the University of Warwick management fail to meet the demands listed, but in using their vast resources to buy a silencing injunction that effectively outlaws any subsequent similar protests for an indefinite length of time, they have only intensified our concerns over the marginalisation of the students whose voices constitute its community. Their actions embody the discrimination and oppression levied towards any who would dissent from the interests of the corporate establishment, and set a worrying precedent for the future of free thought, free expression and free association at our university. Once again, we will not accept this.

We acknowledge that the University of Warwick’s Centre of Human Rights in Practice has announced intentions to organise an independent summit to ‘explore the future of peaceful protest at our University’ which we shall await with interest and optimism. However, this does not curb our anger at West Midlands Police nor the University of Warwick management, and does not, we feel, constitute an apology or an attempt at legitimately addressing our demands. Moreover, it does not mitigate the University of Warwick management’s attempts to vilify and coerce its students into accepting its false narrative through unsubstantiated allegation and juridical scare tactics.

Our campaign for education which is accessible to all and free from exploitation and greed shall therefore continue to develop and expand. We shall be organising further actions and events over the coming months in order to protest against the grave injustice that is being brought against students nationwide. We will be back on campus and back on the local streets. We will be flyering, chalking, marching, chanting and demonstrating. We will be uniting with other students and workers in the region to form a vast and powerful network of activists that will be a force to be reckoned with. This is a common struggle; a struggle against state oppression and the corporatisation of public services, and we will not rest until these matters are addressed.

We’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us so far, both from within and beyond our movement. Your solidarity has been truly indispensable and an inspiration to us all. The only way we can do justice to our gratitude is by continuing to be as fearless, committed and supportive as you have.

Love and solidarity.

WFFE xxx

How do we Respond? Public Meeting

nigel cops on campus

Last term saw an unprecedented level of student anger on campus.

Following attacks on protesters holding a sit in at Senate House we rallied to support one another, and a huge demonstration – quite possibly the biggest Warwick has ever seen – of 1000 students the next day then led to an occupation, with 150 people taking a section on the top floor of the Rootes building.

This occupation continued after the end of term. We attempted to negotiate with management, but their response was to bully and ignore us. The protest came to an end finally, 8 days after the #copsoffcampus demo, when an injunction was granted to the university. This injunction serves as an INDEFINITE ban on “occupation-style protests” at the university.

This injunction cost tens of thousands of pounds, and it specifically named students involved in Warwick For Free Education in an attempt to recover these costs from them. Thankfully this failed, but the university’s intention is clear: if they cannot pepper spray us off campus, then they will use protest bans and the threat of legal costs to intimidate us.

We call on everyone who supported us to come and contribute to a meeting where we will share information about our situation and decide on how we will respond the university’s ongoing attempts at intimidation and fight for Free Education.

We are entering another phase of the campaign, and we want your help.

The meeting will take place on Friday the 9th, 5.30pm, on campus, specific location tbc

FB event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/747447165371741/