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Rough night for Birmingham occupiers

Defend Education | 24.11.2011 16:18 | Occupy Everywhere | Education | Public sector cuts | Repression | Birmingham

At 23:30 as the occupiers were settling down for the night, university security began harassing the students. Simon Furse a second year International relations student said “It was disgraceful, I have never seen like it university security are just hired thugs who seem to enjoy violence and causing distress with no regard to the law. I was at the window that we use as an entrance to the occupation. The security guard tried to drag someone out of the window. We peacefully resisted and got the person inside at which point the security guard kept the window open and punched me three times in the face. The security then adopted a policy of open harassment ringing the doorbell for long periods of time, knocking on all the windows, pointing lights and cameras into the toilet and shouting insults and abuse.”

University security harassed the occupiers further, John Holland a 3rd year chemistry student said “they were constantly ringing the door bell, banging on the windows and laughing despite being told to leave us alone, by the police.”

After midnight, university security attempted to gain access the occupation breaking open the front window, damaging the window frame in the process. After failing to gain entry the a standoff between occupiers and security developed. University security backed off after a large group of supporters rallied outside the occupation at 1am after running to the occupation from halls and houses in nearby Selly Oak. As security backed off to deal with the new protest outside the occupiers managed to fix the damaged window and have now re-locked it. John Holland said “people power really works, our supporters started linking arms around the occupation to protect us, as security dealt with this we were able to fix the window”.

The occupiers remain determined to carry with their protest to defend public education.

We believe the university is not acting against us because we are being unreasonable or because we are disrupting its functions but because they have a mafia mentality that makes them meet any sign of dissent with disproportionate force. The only way we can respond to their threats is by a show of strength not by capitulation. We wanted to consult widely with the student body in order to come up with a series of goals and demands but for obvious reasons this has not been possible. We therefore issued the following statement to the university. We will vacate the premises of this building if the university signs the VC pledge…

1. To publicly condemn the White Paper and call for it to be withdrawn

2. To guarantee no course closures

3. To guarantee no job cuts and no adverse changes to staff terms and conditions

4. To provide bursaries for all students who need them – not fee waivers

5. To guarantee no cuts to library, student support or learning resources

6. To guarantee no cuts to access schemes or foundation courses

7. To guarantee that the university will remain public, and a not-for-profit body.

8. And does not victimise those who have taken part in the occupation.

The university can afford to pay for all these things however it is choosing to invest in pointless prettification of the campus instead of defending education.

Defend Education
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