Tagged Students

Wearing a mask is a way the Zapatistas invite everyone into the struggle

PHOTO Shannon on Flickr

PHOTO: Shannon on Flickr

Why do the Zapatistas wear masks?

Wednesday’s student protest includes a call for protesters to cover their faces to protect their privacy. This guest post, by London Mexico Solidarity Group, is a reminder, however, that in the Mexican state of Chiapas, the Zapatistas wear masks to ensure they are seen.

On January 1st 1994, at half-past midnight, on the inaugural cusp of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the US and Mexico, 3,000 masked Zapatista soldiers emerged from the jungle and mountain villages of the southeastern state of Chiapas and occupied seven towns, including the historic colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas.

Behind the black balaclavas or red kerchiefs, were faces with distinctive Mayan features typical of the people native to these lands who have been resisting repression, exploitation, racism and genocide for centuries. Read more

Students – protect your privacy on the Free Education demo

Intelligence gathering at Gaza protest

Intelligence gathering at London Gaza protest in 2014 | PHOTO: Netpol

If you are planning to attend this November’s national student march, you should start planning now to cover up against intrusive surveillance

On Wednesday 4 November, students from around the country will assembly in London for the ‘Free Education & Living Grants For All’ protest called by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. Coming almost five years to the day since the start of a wave of student unrest began in London, marchers will find themselves joined by an array of police intelligence-gatherers. The demonstration is liable to face an intense level of surveillance.

As well as demanding living grants for all and an education system that is free, this is also an opportunity for student protesters to take an important stand to protect their individual privacy while out on the streets and exercising their freedom of assembly. One of the few remaining ways to do so in the current climate of mass surveillance is by covering your face with a mask or scarf and ensuring that in future, this becomes as normal on every protest as carrying a placard. Read more

Anger at police kettle of student activists

birm student kettle 2

Students have spoken out at their anger and frustration at being kettled, filmed and questioned at the end of a demonstration at Birmingham University last night.

There had been a national meeting, followed by a march and an occupation of Birmingham University’s Great Hall. As the students left the occupation, they were met by lines of police. They were then held in a kettle, in cold and wet conditions, for up to four hours.

One student told us she had struggled to cope with the cold and wet and the lack of toilet facilities,

“It felt like forever, I needed the toilet and it was so horrible and uncomfortable and cold. When I finally got out my friends had to hold me up I was so cold and drained. I felt really helpless and wanted to cry.

My friend was in tears – this was the first demo she’d been on. She doesn’t want to go on another one ever again. The police terrify her now.

They kept us like that to keep our morale down, to absolutely smash our morale. I just feel really bitter and angry”

Read more

Kettling the powers of the police – October Policing

Protesters kettled and forced to give details at Occupy LSX

Protesters attempting to set up OccupyLSX on 15 October were kettled in the area outside St Pauls ‘to prevent a breach of the peace’, despite there being a completely peaceful atmosphere. They had attempted to occupy the privately owned Patnernoster Square but had been prevented from doing so by large numbers of police, including mounted officers.

One freelance journalist covering the event, Tom Stevenson wrote “ the police erected a screen which rolled the message “this area is contained to avoid breach of the peace” in deep red letters. Such is the irony of the idea that it’s necessary to surround peaceful demonstrators discussing, dancing and singing, with officers equipped with riot helmets in order to maintain peace, it’s surprising the screen didn’t short-circuit.”

The Met has previously said that “the police use of the tactic of containment (‘Kettling’, as it is referred to in the media, is not a term used by the police), is used as a last resort following violence or the threat of violence by protestors.”
When protesters were allowed to leave the kettle, they were searched, asked to give details and had their photographs taken by FIT officers. The vast majority of police only left after the Dean of St Pauls, Giles Fraser, said their presence was not necessary.

Tasers used during violent eviction at Dale Farm

Riot police broke into the travellers site at Dale Farm on October 19th to begin the eviction of the site. Police broke through protester defences at the rear gate, using both batons and tasers against demonstrators. Several people were injured, including a woman traveller who was later taken to hospital with a suspected back injury.

The use of tasers in a public order situation indicates a potential shift in ACPO policy and has raised fears that tasers may be deployed in other instances of public protest. The last use of these potentially fatal weapons in relation to protest was during raids on a convergence space following G20 protests in April 2009.

Superintendent Trevor Roe of Essex police insisted the use of tasers was in response to violence from a ‘specific individual’, but his account was not supported by eye-witnesses.

Jason Parkinson, a freelance photographer who filmed the incident, told the Guardian the police had only shouted a warning once, and had a hit a demonstrator who was not throwing missiles. “It was within two metres – people were very close. The police were on the offensive and they were not under threat,” he said. “I did not see what happened to him afterwards, but I believe he was one of those arrested.” Parkinson claimed to have heard police shout: “Fuck off or you’ll be shot.” Read more

Why Calls To Ban Demonstrations Are Dangerously Shortsighted

Image of anti-cuts protestors on the student demo. Police in riot gear are also visible. The students have placards with slogans such as 'stop education cuts' and 'f**k fees'Student demonstrators arrested at last years protests have been convicted without sufficient evidence, and have been subjected to disproportionate sentences according to legal support activists.

Samuel Pepper Sharp, age 24 from Scarborough, was last week found guilty of aggravated trespass at the Millbank Tower on November 10th 2010. Students had occupied the Conservative headquarters in protest at the increase in student fees. Samuel was convicted despite an absence of evidence that he had done anything other than simply being in the building. Mere trespass is not, under UK law, a criminal offence.

The judgement, given by District Judge Snow in Westminster magistrates court, suggested there was an assumption of ‘collective guilt’ rather than a decision based on Samuels own actions. In fact, the only substantive evidence against Samuel was a witness statement from his arresting officer, which stated he was arrested in the reception area of 30 Millbank.

Some protestors have said they were carried into the foyer that day by the force of the large crowd surging forward, and that police then prevented them from leaving the building for reasons of ‘health and safety’, as police struggled to contain the demonstration around Millbank.

Taherali Gulamhussein, from the Network for Police Monitoring, stated that the convictions were a “watering down of the requirement to prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt”. Read more

New Netpol report condemns excessive use of force by police on March 26th

Image of anti-cuts protestors on the student demo. Police in riot gear are also visible. The students have placards with slogans such as 'stop education cuts' and 'f**k fees'Student demonstrators arrested at last years protests have been convicted without sufficient evidence, and have been subjected to disproportionate sentences according to legal support activists.

Samuel Pepper Sharp, age 24 from Scarborough, was last week found guilty of aggravated trespass at the Millbank Tower on November 10th 2010. Students had occupied the Conservative headquarters in protest at the increase in student fees. Samuel was convicted despite an absence of evidence that he had done anything other than simply being in the building. Mere trespass is not, under UK law, a criminal offence.

The judgement, given by District Judge Snow in Westminster magistrates court, suggested there was an assumption of ‘collective guilt’ rather than a decision based on Samuel’s own actions. In fact, the only substantive evidence against Samuel was a witness statement from his arresting officer, which stated he was arrested in the reception area of 30 Millbank.

Some protestors have said they were carried into the foyer that day by the force of the large crowd surging forward, and that police then prevented them from leaving the building for reasons of ‘health and safety’, as police struggled to contain the demonstration around Millbank.

Taherali Gulamhussein, from the Network for Police Monitoring, stated that the convictions were a “watering down of the requirement to prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt”. Read more