A student protest at Warwick University against soaring tuition fees was broken up by police and security guards using tear gas and significant force. Protesters were threatened with a Taser, pushed to the ground and rammed against a wall, activists say.
The protest, organized by Warwick For Free Education, occurred on Wednesday as part of a nationwide chain of student demonstrations coordinated by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.
The students had organised a peaceful sit-in at the university’s Senate House in protest at rising fees for higher education that have been introduced under PM David Cameron’s government.
A spokesman for Warwick University said university security guards, who were monitoring the protest, were subjected to a “shocking and unprovoked act of violence,” which prompted them to call for a police presence. But the spokesman’s claims were contradicted by students who insisted the protest was quiet and peaceful.
One of the student protesters told OpenDemocracy.org that approximately 50 students attended a rally on Warwick University’s campus before making their way to occupy the reception area of the university’s Senate House. He claimed his fellow protesters were seated peacefully in a large circle, only to be besieged by security guards and officers.
Following the arrival of West Midlands Police officers, clashes ensued. A formal statement published on the Warwick For Free Education website alleges that “at least 20 students were assaulted by university security and police.”
Protesters were “punched, pushed onto the floor, dragged, rammed by their throat into the wall and kneed in the face,” the protest group claims.
Footage published online shows an officer shoving the students with considerable force, while protesters shout, “What are you doing?”
The YouTube video reveals screaming students, visibly shocked and fearful, being forcibly dispersed by police.
One girl, who appeared to be filming the protest, was physically hauled forward by an officer and subsequently pushed away as she screamed in a terrified manner. A nearby student who witnessed the event shouted at the officer, “Get your hands off her! Mate, what are you doing? This is peaceful.”
The officer appeared to respond by lunging toward the young man in a threatening manner with a can of CS gas.
“A Taser was taken out and was being made to crackle by pressing the trigger, but it wasn’t used,” he added.
The student said the force deployed felt “particularly disproportionate.” “When the police came they didn’t say why they were there. A lot of younger students were visibly shaken and left in tears.”
The activist added the violence the students experienced was a “shock” because the protest was“quiet.”“We weren’t even shouting,” he emphasized.
Read the full story at http://rt.com/uk/211495-student-protest-assault-police/
CS or tear gas is a commonly used agent for riot control. Exposure creates a sensation of burning, and causes excessive tearing of the eyes so that the subject’s vision is temporarily impaired.
One student who had attended the demonstration told the Coventry Telegraph that a police officer“took out his CS spray and sprayed it in one person’s eyes and then into a crowd of about 10 people.”