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Students pledge to mobilise after 14 arrests at University of Birmingham

Posted on Friday, 31 January by

University of Birmingham protests

Students have called for “co-ordinated direct action and occupations” in a week when controversial policing at the University of Birmingham left 14 students arrested following a protest that was backed by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.

All but two of the students arrested have not been charged, yet must adhere to bail conditions that include living and sleeping each night at their home address, not entering any university grounds and not meeting publicly with groups of 10 or more people.

On Wednesday, following the demonstration, hundreds of students were kettled in a courtyard outside the Aston Webb Building for between two and four hours, without access to food or water. When students were finally allowed to leave in pairs, West Midlands Police forced all students present their personal details. Some students refused to do so, and were subsequently arrested. In a recent High Court judgment, this action was found to be in breach of human rights legislation.

Bail conditions

According to a report on the protests from the Guardian, West Midlands police say that the protest escalated into a “serious public order incident” that left doors smashed, buildings vandalised and members of staff injured.

Deborah Hermanns, a student with Birmingham Defend Education who was released last night, said:

This week we have faced an open attempt to crush dissent on at our university by an unelected clique of managers. They have shown constant intransigence by refusing to negotiate with us all year, instead spending tens of thousands of pounds getting injunctions, increased security and calling in police – that is the only argument they have left.”

A spokesperson for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, said: “We are witnessing a violent and draconian assault on the right to organise. The student movement is back, under a banner of free, democratic education – and the reaction of management and the police proves our point. Anyone who views what has happened as acceptable is not fit to run a university, and we will make it our business to remove them.”

A joint press release from Defend Education Birmingham, Defend the Right to Protest and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts says that the national meeting student meeting in Birmingham on Wednesday backed a call for coordinated direct action and occupations from 6th February, which is when university staff take strike action.

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Images taken from Defend Education Birmingham.

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Corey Pellatt
22-year-old editor of SQ Magazine and Media Studies student at the University of Sussex. Freelance writer for clients including BHAFC.

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