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Roaming marches stun Oxford

The Ox-Fly | 10.12.2010 23:52 | Education | Public sector cuts | Social Struggles | Oxford

Large anti-cuts marches disrupted Oxford city centre on 30th November, briefly occupying County Hall, Barclays, Lloyds, and Castle Mound, disrupting traffic, roaming through streets and shopping centres.

Article taken from Issue 2 of The Ox-Fly - Oxford's radical newsletter:

It was clear from the start that this was not a routine demo. It was called by school students, not politicos or union bureaucrats. It was not a dry set-piece ritual, but a group of school students and others expressing their anger and their desires.

For instance, the massive banner saying 'Legalise Weed - Fuck Fees' was - putting politics aside - a genuinely felt sentiment, unlike the dull SWP placards which were dropped later to allow greater mobility. Chants were also angry, fun and honest: 'When I say Cameron, you say Wasteman...'

Cheney schoolkids were locked in by management to try and stop the walkout. But after others rallied outside, the gates were opened and hundreds flooded out, some as young as 14. Other schools involved included Wheatley Park, Oxford Community, Oxford European, Cherwell and Leckford Place, as well over a hundred students from Oxford Uni, Brookes and locals.

There was no planned route and no negotiation with police. After marching up and down Cornmarket, County Hall was stormed by about 100 school students - some making it to the roof. After baton-waving police and mounted police blocked the entrance, people began to trickle back out, cheered by those outside.

Then began a (peaceful) rampage of the city. Some climbed up 'Castle Mound', where people tried lighting a fire on top. Barclays was occupied, then Lloyds - and you could see cops looking worried outside other banks and Vodafone, which were all closed. Mounted police pushed through groups of people who'd linked arms, and again truncheons were raised threateningly. A few snowballs hit a cop and her horse. Cops pulled people out of Lloyds viciously, threatening arrest and grabbing one school student round the neck.

This just riled the protestors. Some shouted that we should go to a shopping centre, and we ran through both Westgate and Clarendon Centres, where police horses couldn't follow. One protestor, around 15, felt it was "well worth a few detentions", and wanted to do it again tomorrow.

Keith Mitchell, Thatcher-loving head of the county council who barricaded himself in his office during the occupation, called the school students: "noisy and scruffy ... oiks".

He later spluttered: "What is driving this national outbreak of unlawful behaviour? I suspect the hard left are working up a campaign to make such lawlessness the norm ... I wonder how many of our teachers are working for this hard left agenda?"

He's one of those politicians who doesn't bother to use hypocritical language to hide his contempt for ordinary people. Well guess what, Keith? The feeling's mutual!

The Ox-Fly