The kids are united : students take the streets of Bristol

25 11 2010

On wednesday the 24th, as part of the national day of action against cuts & fees anywhere upto 4000 students, lecturers and supporters took to the streets of Bristol. They planned to voice their anger at the coalitions plans, and the result was one hell of a good start. Heres how the kids in school unifrom taught the uniformed officers of the law a thing or two about demonstrations…

The morning began with a few hurried phone calls between different groups arranging to meet up, very quickly fears that today would be a washout were quickly aswayed.
“Where are you?”
“Still on college green, there are hundreds of people here seems like most of CoB college is about to march up park street!”

By the time we arrived at the offical starting point for the days march we were confronted by one of the most energetic crowds i’ve ever seen. thousands of college and university students mingled with excited looking school kids and lecturers, union contingants and several groups of “anarchist infiltrators” (some of them students and some there to show their solidarity with them). For once it wasn’t the anarchist contingent leading the most vocal chants, and the tune of ‘build a bonfire’ could be heard drifting over the crowd before most of us had even arrived, guess we still need to work on that anarchist timekeeping.

As the -occasionally audible- speaches ended and the march set off, the police looked noticibaly worried. Even with backup from their friends in cornwall and devon there couldn’t have been more than several hundred of them, and this was a very big, angry crowd. Still they decided the best thing to do was believe their own hype about peaceful students and dangerous anarchists and a dozen or so ‘escorted’ the section of the march with the biggest red and black banner in it.

As the march swept past the offical end point, and down parkstreet towards the centre it became clear this wasn’t going to be your average A2B march with speaches at either end.

The jubilent air of disobedience nearly came to an abrupt end when a police line formed preventing access to the city centre. Whilst it could’ve been broken easilly with a bit of a push thats a lot to expect when many of the crowd had probably never had cause to disobey a single police officer, let alone two dozen shouting in their faces. Still as more police began to move in, the crowd did react, moving back up towards park street before the day could be brought to an end with a kettle on college green (which is fast becoming the ‘ trafalgar square’ of bristol protests). Several louder – and one would assume more experienced – demonstrators made a swift right to out manouver the police and make it to the centre. However very few marchers followed them – the sight of 4 police horses was enough to cause them to hesitate, even when people were easilly walking past them.

Luckilly this attitude of letting the police dictate what would happen wouldn’t last very long!

The crowds gathered at the top of park street (back at the ‘offical end point) and police moved in to prevent further access to the centre or college green. Thats when the news started to spread “students have occupied the student union and are asking for people to join them”.
As we arrived at the doors a line of police informed everyone they would not be getting past. This time the crowd wasn’t ready to take no for an answer and surged forward, with a heartwarming mix of older protesters and uniformed school kids leading the charge. The police lines inside and out broke, and security was left to do little but watch as hundreds of people rushed in and up the stairs to the occupied anson rooms.

Once the barricades were in place, and the fire alarm had finally stopped ringing (funnilly enough the vice-chancelors call for everyone to evacuate wasn’t heeded by many), everyone settled down to plan their next move. And eat ice lollies that it later turned out were from an ‘occupied freezer’ in the SU building.

Meanwhile…

With the police distracted by the disorder at the union building, another group of protesters had managed to retake park street and start a bonfire in front of the council house on college green. However it wasn’t long before dogs, horses, batons and fists were deployed to kettle this group. Just as a couple of comrades inside were resigning themselves to staying there, chants began to ring out from the otherside of the police lines.

A large slice of the group from the student union, freshly invigerated by their victory over the police there ran across college green, in a couple of minutes the police kettle had been dispersed and the officers stood back in confusion, unsure how to deal with the now considerably larger group in front of them.

They eventually settled on the usual answer of ‘intimidation and violence’, but not before people were already running up park street and some had *literally* got a foot in the door at the council building. Sadly the day didn’t end with the city council under occupation, as many lost their nerve and the police took their revenege pinning one protester against a van and slamming another into the ground and stamping on his head. Both were released after being searched on the technicallity that they hadn’t actually broken the law.

The protester slammed into the ground had to be taken to hospital by his friends after sustaining injuries to his head and wrist. Luckilly he was safe to be released from hospital later in the evening – albeit under strict orders that he must be kept under supervision due to his head injury.

It was whilst waiting in hospital that we got the news that after an entire afternoon spent running round, and through police lines, and disrupting the city of bristol the final large group of protesters was kettled in a side street near park street and it looked like the demo was over for the day.

Still, students did regroup later some lending their support to the new bristol student union occupation and others briefly occupying an area in the city of bristol college.

All round it was a great day out, with school children, anarchists, and members of the IWW, UCU and NUT joining with college and university students. I hope it has been a radicalising experience for many that had previously believed the police to be reasonable upholders of the peace, rather than tools of the state who must be confronted if we are to be effective. Judging by the actions of many later in the day, i believe this has been the case.

As for next time? Well this is going to be a long fight, and i personally hope to see much larger groups from the mainstream unions and socalist groups joining together with even more of bristols students, workers, and others.

To all the politicians, fat cats and police who thought yesterday was a hard day, wait ’till you see what we can do when we’re ALL pushing together, and we’re REALLY angry. See you in the streets fuckers.

-Anarchists Against the Cuts Bristol.

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3 responses

26 11 2010
Legal and practical advice for revolting students and supporters | Prisoner Support Bristol ABC

[…] is a fine report on the 24 November Bristol protest, and here a statement from the successful occupation of Bristol Uni student union. Meanwhile the […]

2 12 2010
GT

“Still they decided the best thing to do was believe their own hype about peaceful students and dangerous anarchist…”

The police acted disgracefully that day, as they did on Tues 30th, but if your suggesting that it wasn’t 100% the police’s fault and that it wasn’t a peaceful march being provoked, – that the students somehow intend to overthrow the police force through their own disorganised force alone – then not only are you playing into their hands, but you’re a dangerous idiot and very fucking stupid. I saw the excellent discipline of the kids on Tues, not a thing was broken or put out of place, and only the police showed how violent they were – and now the ruling class is shaken – but in your world they should have smashed up shops and the cars on innocents, punched old ladies in the face, and set off a firework in the face of a passerby? All of these things have happened recently and probably at the hands of provocateur like you.

2 12 2010
Anti-cuts Action

Ahahaha, thanks. you have made us all giggle. You managed to deduce all that from one quote. You’ve got us! That is exactly what we were saying. As you can tell this blog promotes punching old ladies in the face and then saying how the police are such lovely non-violent fellows.

One, you will notice that this article is about Wednesday 24th not Tuesday 30th. Also the full sentence is “Still they decided the best thing to do was believe their own hype about peaceful students and dangerous anarchists and a dozen or so ‘escorted’ the section of the march with the biggest red and black banner in it.” It’s self explanatory really but in short we are saying the cops put most of their resources into keeping an eye on the anarchists. We (the anarchists) did not set off fire works, punch old ladies, smash shops or cars, maybe you were at a different demo? Also nowhere in the article do we complain that the students were well behaved or suggest that the police acted like choir boys or question why the students did not overthrow the police. I’m not even sure how you can overthrow the police as they are not in power.

Please feel free to explain how this quote makes us dangerous idiots & very fucking stupid, we are dying to know. Alternatively you could just get a job with the Telegraph or Daily Mail.

Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read our blog, but next time please take more care in comprehending what the words mean and finish sentences before jumping to far fetched conclusions.

Yours,
Anarchists Against The Cuts

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