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#CopsOffCampus: Thousands of London Students Defy Police Order in Day of Action

Organizers: 'We are the people who give our institutions life and make them function. The only power that management ultimately has is police and state violence.'

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Defying a ban on campus protests, thousands of London students staged a mass demonstration Wednesday to demand an end to the presence of police on campus and the privatization of the university system.

The day of action, which exploded across Twitter under the hashtag #copsoffcampus, follows student demonstrations last week that were met with violence and the arrest of 41 protesters. After those demonstrations, the University of London obtained an injunction that prohibits all "occupational protest" of campus buildings for six months and threatens those who violate the order with jail time.

"In the past week, police have violently evicted, beaten, and arrested students from peaceful occupations in London and sent undercover police officers to spy on students," writes the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts on the Facebook page organizing the national day of action. "This cannot be allowed to continue."

Beginning at the University of London Student Union, students marched to Royal Courts of Justice, where the inquest into the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot by police sparking rioting in 2011, is being held, London's Evening Standard reports.

Other reports said protesters also marched to the Senate House, the university administrative building where sit-in protesters were evicted last week—where a small group reportedly tried to break through doors and enter the building—before heading to Parliament and Piccadilly Circus.

Since 2010, London's university students have been engaging in ongoing protests against the privatization of schools, austerity cuts and the rising cost of education. The action which prompted last week's eviction and arrests was a demonstration against the privatization of the British university system and the closing of the Student Union, RT reports. 

The organizers behind Wednesday's day of action say they are protesting against the privatization of student debt, the police brutality and the austerity agenda, standing for fair pay for university staff and democratic campuses.

"We stand for an education that is public and democratic, free for all," they write, adding:

Campuses should be places for inquiry, critical thinking and dissent. Across the country, students and workers are fighting for that vision. Students and workers united hold all of the legitimate power. We are the people who give our institutions life and make them function.

The only power that management ultimately has is police and state violence. They can’t win the argument, but they can – and do – call in the cops, assault and intimidate us. With an agenda of austerity, the authorities are behaving in an ever more violent and repressive way.

Our response is to mobilize harder.


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