Posts Tagged ‘black bloc’

Free Education – No Barriers, Borders or Business

Thursday, November 4th, 2021

Free Education – No Barriers, Borders or Business was the call by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) on their march through London on Wednesday 4th November 2015 against the abolition of maintenance grants and demanding free education without fees and huge student debts and an end to turning higher education into a market system impoverishing staff and students.

The march began in Malet St outside what had been the University of London Union, founded in 1921 as the University of London Union Society and was run by students for students. In 2013 the University of London decided to close ULU, taking over the building and running it as ‘Student Central’, now managed by the university, though continuing to offer similar services and resources for the 120,000 students, including bars, restaurants, shops, banks, a swimming pool and a live music venue – though some of these were on a reduced scale. But in 2021 it was announced that Student Central was to close and the building would become a teaching space for neighbouring Birkbeck College.

There were some speeches in Malet St before the march began, with speeches from several student representatives from various universities around the country, teaching staff and some fighting words from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP. Green Party leader Natalie Bennett also marched with the students.

Antonia Bright of Movement for Justice spoke about the UK’s racist immigration policies and invited students to protest at Yarls Wood on the following Saturday.

Among the marchers was a ‘black bloc’ carrying red and black anarchist flags and including Class War carrying their ‘WE HAVE FOUND NEW HOMES FOR THE RICH’ banner, along with a ‘book bloc’ carrying large polystyrene padded posters with the names of left wing and anarchist classic books on them or slogans such as ‘Rise, Riot, Revolt.’

The march went through Russell Square Square and down to High Holborn where it turned west and then took Shaftesbury Ave and the Charing Cross Rd to Trafalgar Square.

From there it went down Whitehall to Parliament Square where I left it briefly to photograph campaigners from the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign who had mounted a weekly vigil for his release from Guantanamo and were holding a ‘Welcome Home Shaker’ celebration.

I caught up with the marchers again at the Home Office, where there was a great deal of noise, confusion and coloured smoke before the marchers turned around and walked back towards Victoria St.

They gathered outside the Dept of Business, Innovation & Skills, where a black clad block charged the mass of police protecting the building, but were forcefully repelled. More police arrived and started pushing everyone away, including peaceful protesters and photographers. I was sent flying but fortunately into some of the protesters rather than to the pavement.

Eventually the pushing stopped and the police set up lines across the street which prevented the more peaceful protesters leaving the area. I tried to leave, showing my press card. After some minutes of being refused I found an officer who let me through and I walked along the street to rest and wait to see how the situation would develop. Eventually the students managed to break through the police line and run along to join the others already there, and they moved off. I decided I’d had enough and made my way to Victoria station to catch a train.

More pictures:

Students at Home Office and BIS
‘Welcome Home Shaker’ celebration
Free Education – No Barriers, Borders or Business


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More from May Days: 2012

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

The 2012 march lived up to its billing in bringing together “trade unionists, workers from the many international communities in London, pensioners, anti-globalisation organisations, students, political bodies and many others ” to march through London, and was perhaps even more varied than in previous years.

There were the usual large groups of Turkish and Kurdish socialists and others from around the world, and on My London Diary I wrote:

Among the various key issues for workers raised by this year’s march were the attacks on pensions and other cuts, the closure of one third of Remploy factories with the loss of jobs by more than 1500 disabled people, and the workfare scheme which is being used to compel the unemployed to give free labour to companies or lose their job-seekers allowance, leading to less paid jobs being available.

London May Day March

At the back of the march were several hundred autonomous bloc protesters who stopped to protest on the Strand outside some of the shops using free labour or avoiding paying taxes, including branches of McDonalds, Greggs, Topshop and Pizza Hut. They had been accompanies and harassed on the march by a large group of police, and when they stopped to protest there were minor scuffles and several arrests. Occupy protesters put up several tents when the marchers reached Trafalgar Square, and were forced by police to remove them.

Samantha Rigg speaks about the killing by police of her brother Sean

Outside the IPCC offices on the Strand, Campaign 4 Justice and Merlin Emmanuel, Smiley Culture’s nephew had organised a rally against the corruption of the IPCC which was set up to replace the previous corrupt Police Complaints Authority. The IPCC is dominated by former police officers and they called for a citizen-led body that has proper powers and true independence from the police.

After the rally in Trafalgar Square, London Solidarity Federations and Occupy London led a crowd of several hundred to protest outside various branches of shops which were taking part in Workfare schemes. I joined them on Oxford St, where there were a series of minor skirmishes with police who tried to prevent them entering the shops. The protesters finally returned to Charing Cross police station and the Strand, and suddenly the police went off shift and disappeared.

The protesters held a discussion, undecided about how to proceed without their opposition, and some, led by Occupy London, decided to head for the City with the ‘Reclaim May Day‘ maypole, stopping on the way for a very short protest at the Royal Courts of Justice.

A van of City of London Police came to take a brief look at them before driving away, and they made their way to the Stock Exchange unescorted. After posing for pictures they then occupied the entrance to the closed Stock Exchange and were soon joined by a handful of police officers.

People were beginning to party in the square and it looked as if little was likely to happen, so I left for home. Eventually the protest here ended around 11pm.

Stock Exchange Occupied
May Day Workfare Protest
Abolish The Corrupt IPCC
London May Day March


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