London isn't a great place to be angry, young and educated right now.
Yesterday, 34 student demonstrators were arrested while protesting against student demonstrators being arrested. Say what you like about the police being uneducated knuckleheads, that shows the kind of appreciation for Lyotardian metanarrative that wouldn't seem out of place in an undergrad sociology lecture.
The protesters were taking part in the "Cops off campus" rally, which had actually been planned before three students were arrested and another apparently punched in the face by officers at the attempted occupation of Senate House on Wednesday.
The demo was inspired by a number of events over the past few months that have angered students who want to be left unmolested as they express dissent. First, in July, a student was arrested for drawing a political slogan in chalk on University of London property – something that could probably have been dealt with using a wet rag rather than police resources.
Then, in October, the vice-president of the University of London Union (ULU) was arrested after objecting to police frisking students for drugs. Daniel Cooper claimed that the stop and search campaign unfairly singled out black students. Last month, the president of ULU, Michael Chessum, was also arrested for failing to inform the police about a protest he had organised. Essentially, every time students want to protest, they're either banned from campus or run the risk of being arrested. This isn't something that they're tremendously keen on.
Yesterday, the police were in no mood to confound accusations that their presence is unnecessary and often heavy-handed, with allegations emerging that a man on crutches was tackled to the ground by an officer. As an eyewitness told London Student, "The man was walking near the police when they pushed him, and as he fell backwards the police kicked away the crutch before jumping on him."
Another bystander claimed to have witnessed the incident, and said there was blood left on the pavement where officers had allegedly tackled the man, but the reports have not yet been verified.
Meanwhile, some of the protesters had come prepared with shields painted to look like their favourite books, which they held in a line to form a "book bloc", before letting off some smoke bombs – giving the event that rowdy continental football riot vibe. Benches were hauled into the middle of the road to block police vans and wheelie bins were used as barriers.
Our photographer and London Student editor Oscar Webb being arrested (Photo by Adam Tiliouine)
After some time, kettles were formed and those inside them were arrested. One of those people was our photographer and the editor of the London Student, Oscar Webb. Luckily, he managed to pass his camera to others outside the kettle before he was led away in handcuffs, so we can show you his photos. At the time of writing, we haven’t heard from him, but presumably he’s spent a very tedious night having his details and fingerprints taken.
Students have responded to the arrests by calling for another protest against police brutality. At this rate, there will be more arrests, leading to yet more protests, leading to more arrests, and so on and so forth until everyone gets arrested and the world collapses in on itself.
Follow Oscar on Twitter: @owebb