Published on February 6, 2014 | by William Thomas0
UAL students detained at Birmingham demo
Fourteen people were arrested after West Midland’s Police kettled more than one hundred student protesters at the latest national student demonstration at the University of Birmingham (UoB).
Of the eight UAL students and SUARTS sabbatical officers who attended, five were detained by the police, two were stopped and searched and Marc Dataro, an FdA Art student at LCC, ended up in hospital.
While the police were looking for those responsible for abusing campus staff, throwing smoke bombs and breaking down doors, around 150 students were held at the university’s Edgbaston campus for over three-and-a-half hours.
Students were only allowed to leave the containment after giving their personal details to the police and those who refused were arrested.
Of the fourteen arrested on Wednesday, three later appeared at Birmingham Magistrate’s Court and five UoB students have been suspended.
Free education, with tuition fees being funded by heavier taxing on the rich who “already have enough,” scrapping of university league tables which are claimed to be ‘elitist’ and ‘unfair,’ and an end to the government’s plan to privatise the student loan book were some demands made by the protesters.
“I got out by myself. Luckily, two students from the University of Sheffield saw me lying on the floor as I was in total pain, while waiting for the ambulance that never picked me up.” Marc Dataro
Rosie Black, SUARTS’ Volunteering and Activities officer, explained to Arts London News that solidarity between university and students was crucial to the success of the demonstration.
“I think it’s important that we are here as representatives of the SU, but more importantly that they [the UAL students] are here.”
Dataro, the UAL student who went to hospital, was found in the ‘kettle’ suffering from an intense headache and abdominal pains.
The police let him out and told him to make his own way to hospital, but did not allow anybody else to leave to accompany him.
He said: “I got out by myself. Luckily, two students from the University of Sheffield saw me lying on the floor as I was in total pain, while waiting for the ambulance that never picked me up.”
Dataro claims to have overheard “we’re only providing an ambulance for the police that were assaulted” on a police officer’s radio.
Upon hearing about the incidents that occurred at the demonstration, the UoB’s Student Union – the Guild of Students – were quick to distance themselves from anti-social behaviours.
“The Guild is extremely disappointed with the action at today’s demonstration. We wish to reiterate that this was not a Guild organised protest nor is the Guild affiliated to the campaign group, Defend Education,” they said.
In response to this post online, SUARTS officers wrote an open letter on their online blog the following day, in which they explained that “[they] were disappointed to find that the Guild has been so quick to distance itself from yesterday’s actions, and in denouncing students who were last night arrested.”
“The line put out from the Guild seems almost identical to that of the Vice Chancellor who is so famously an advocate of cuts, fee rises and the silencing of student protest,” SUARTS added.
An online petition calling for UoB to reinstall the five suspended students, “whose only ‘crime’ has been to defend education,” has also been launched.
Video filmed and edited by Becky Crisp