YUSU President Kallum Taylor today condemned police brutality across the UK, in a damning YUSU blog post.
Taylor announced the Union’s allegiance to student activists across the country, urging students to protest at the #copsoffcampus demonstrations in London tomorrow.
The blog follows news that a number of demonstrations across the country including those at Birmingham, Sussex and London, have been banned or slammed by police.
One protest saw police arrest University of London Union President Michael Chessum in connection with a demonstration held in response to the takeover of his Union by University administrators.
Another involved five students at the University of Sussex being suspended from campus services, following their involvement in a series of protests regarding fairer pay for university staff.
Taylor comments: “At a time when students are highly disengaged from party politics – with promises being broken and ladders being chopped down from those who’ve benefitted [sic] from a cheaper, or indeed free, climb to the top – it is discouraging to see that when students choose to use other democratic means to express their views, they are met with a decidedly undemocratic response from both the police and university authorities.”
Taylor, speaking to the Telegraph, further comments: “It’s vital that seemingly isolated incidents like this, dotted about the UK, are highlighted; as it’s these small battles which go onto justify national attacks and demonisation of people who speak out in a peaceful manner.”
The current scale of police response has never before been witnessed at British universities, with students allegedly beaten, strangled, having teeth punched out, dragged across roads, and violently bundled into vans.
However, University of Sussex student and activist, Gillian Love, appeared to be hopeful: “The decision to suspend the Sussex 5 has backfired hugely on management. Students and academics who were previously ambivalent about the anti-privatisation campaign are now turning up to protests and meetings, outraged by management’s disproportionate response; ironically they’ve given a real boost to the campaign.”
On the “Sussex 5″, Love describes the toll it has taken: “I heard one of the 5 speaking today about the emotional and mental toll this period of uncertainty has had on him, and how he potentially faces a large fine and the worry this is causing him.”
“It’s really heartening to hear that York are in solidarity with Sussex students and workers, as well as students across the country who are fighting to get cops off campus and defend education.”
The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the campaign organising #CopsOffCampus, has said in a statement: “The past week has seen an unprecedented level of police violence on campus, with draconian injunctions from the University of London and bail conditions banning students from congregating in public in groups of more than four.
“At Sussex, five students have been suspended for protesting, in Birmingham students have faced persecution and court injunctions. Across the country, we are being attacked, but we will not be intimidated.”