as the light faded in trafalgar square, the crowd tested two or three of the exits and more fighting broke out. at one point, police in the north-west corner made a charge into an angry crowd, and in the process a young woman was knocked unconscious. police refused to allow medics in, claiming they feared for their officers safety, even though students offered to stand well back. arguments went on for some time while the woman laid there, until eventually a group of police and medics moved forward, picked her up (without a brace or any check on her condition) and ran her behind police lines.
NB if you didn't realise, you can see larger versions of pics on indymedia london by clicking on them
some petty pilfering at tescos gave the police the excuse to close it down, and some fighting occured and a window was damaged. as riot police flooded that area, one particular inspector, pictured, lashed out at someone simply because they were "too close" (not having much room to move back because of others behind him). again, there was a serious injury as the protestor fell back and was wounded. some people screamed for medics and then carried the wounded man to the police line, also shouting at the inspector that he had done this.
this police operation eventually stood down. during it, press were not allowed in or out of cordons even with press cards.
riot police then removed protestors from the plinths, sometimes aggressively, and making at least two arrests. this large group of police guarding the plinth were taunted by the crowd who shouted "you're kettled".
again, these police withdrew, but not for long.
suddenly, hundreds of police charged across the square in full riot gear from several directions. backed up by mounted police, they formed an impenetrable kettle at the entrance to the strand, capturing probably around a couple of hundred protestors (and passers-by).
there were certainly far more police than there were students, but the students remained unfazed, shouting slogans, doing the hokey-cokey, singing carols, or just sitting under the heavy sleet and snow.
police made occasional snatches to arrest individuals alleged to have been involve in criminal damage.
i was disturbed once again (having seen a medic using fire extinguishers in the faces of protestors last week) to see medics acting like bully boys. one completely lost control at someone outside the kettle who he said was standing too close to him. other officers had to actually restrain the medic to stop him attacking the by-stander!
over the next couple of hours, police began allowing people to leave one at a time.
customarily, kettles are employed when a section 60 has been enforced, and as people leave, they are photographed with any face-coverings removed, and they can be searched for any offensive weapons, although police often use the search as an excuse to go through any identifying documents even though strictly this is not allowed in law. however, there is no legal requirement to provide a name and address.
this evening though, police used a new technique. as each person was escorted out, they were placed in front of one of three forward intelligence teams, who interviewed them in front a bright light and video camera. they were told they were being arrested for breach of the peace, and that they therefore had to give their name and address. some were loaded into vans - others were, after giving all their details and being photographed and videoed from every angle, told they were now de-arrested and allowed to leave - many of these were under-18.
this is a worrying mass addition to the police database of young people not guilty or suspected of any crime, but simply protesting about ideological and political education cuts by an undemocratic and unelected government.
i aslo saw a line of police writing up their note-books and openly chatting and collaborating while doing so.
mainstream media are quoting around 150 arrests, although i think this includes the mock and temporary arrests as people left the kettle. however, dozens were taken away in vans and there had been several arrests earlier during the course of the day.
Original article on IMC London: http://london.indymedia.org/articles/6259