The London Review of Books has published several eye-witness accounts of police violence written by academics and students from Cambridge. The incidents recorded took place during the protests against tuition fee rises and cuts in the Higher Education budget.
The accounts in the LRB offer a very different perspective from much media reporting and commentary on these events. They offer convincing testimony not only that the demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful, but that some police conduct was frightening, dangerous and unnecessary.
A focus on student ‘rioters’ by much of the media conveniently sidesteps the fact that students as well as academics recognise the threat to the universities posed by cuts in the Higher Education budget, and that they were protesting against these cuts as well as against tuition fee hikes. It thus attempts to treat student protesters and academic objectors as two separate interest groups. The truth is that that both students and academics are united in their legitimate fears for the future of the whole Higher Education system, not only for themselves but for the nation and its children.
Most student protesters will not themselves suffer from the fee hikes; as anyone who has actually talked to them will know, they have been protesting to defend their younger friends and siblings who they fear will be burdened with debt, or else forced to forgo university education.