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Radcliffe reclaimed (Oxford)

The Ox-Fly | 10.12.2010 23:55 | Education | Free Spaces | Public sector cuts | Oxford

In Oxford, 500 people gathered on Cornmarket to protest against cuts to education, and ended up occupying the famous Bodlean Library for over 28 hours. Students from local schools and colleges joined those from Oxford Uni, Brookes and Ruskin.

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

A lively demo quickly made it to the Radcliffe Camera - part of the emblematic Bodlean Library, which has a copy of every published book. Over 300 people clambered over the iron fence, and security quickly gave up trying to stop the crowd.

After celebration and dancing to a soundsystem, a mass meeting was held. Hundreds took part, including many school students who had never been on a protest before. Decisions were made by consensus.

The meeting agreed a statement calling for free education and urging "solidarity with those who are affected by the cuts, and those who are resisting them."

Meanwhile the upstairs room was kept as a quiet study space for anybody to use, not just students.

There were teach-ins on subjects ranging from anarchism to better chants. The atmosphere stayed positive and defiant. People discussed the significance of occupying the Radcliffe Camera, as a symbol of the control of knowledge by a privileged few (ie Oxford University), and whether to make radical or more realistic demands, or to occupy without demands as long as possible. Some even called for direct student-worker control of unis.

Despite our best efforts, the authorities wouldn't let anyone in - then claimed that it was us preventing students' study! There was constant security and police presence at the main entrance, but overnight a dozen people managed to break through and join the occupation. Food and other supplies were thrown through windows by supporters. Others, sent inspiring messages of support.

On the second evening, cops came through an underground tunnel and used a battering ram to smash through a door. Meanwhile the occupation had caused no damage whatsoever. People refused to go, linking arms, but police - without provocation - assaulted one person, forcing him to the ground, grabbed and escorted people out, searching them all.

However no arrests were made, and a trade-union demo was outside, so spirits were high. As the occupiers said, this is only the beginning.

See to get involved.

The Ox-Fly