Friday, 26 November 2010

Liverpool Students march and occupy against cuts

On Wednesday, thousands of students, school pupils and supporters marched through Liverpool in protest against the coming cuts in education. The march began at the University of Liverpool's Student Guild building and converged at Liverpool town hall, where Nick Small, a Labour councillor, desperate to make political capital from the movement against the cuts, made the usual noises about the cuts being driven by “Tories” and the need for those fighting the cuts to act “responsibly” (presumably meaning that we shouldn't do anything that might actually have an effect on the ability of the government to implement the cuts). Perhaps we would have been better off with the proposed Labour cuts, rather than the current Tory ones, but the marchers seemed disinclined to allow things to end there.

The march attempted to head towards the Tory HQ on Hanover street and were met with a police blockade. Protesters ran around the police, occupying the Liverpool One shopping centre en masse before breaking into several small groups which marched through the city chanting “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts” and “Tory scum, here we come”, blocking traffic and leading police on a surprise tour of Liverpool's streets. After some of the marchers reached Hanover Street and the Tory HQ, breaking a police kettle in the process, the march reconvened and headed back to the Student Guild building, stopping again for a sit down protest at the top of Bold Street.

On arriving at the Guild, a group of around 50-60 occupied the building, with large numbers gathering on the roof, within a few minutes, police arrived to remove the occupiers, though some were able to occupy a room within the building for several hours before deciding to leave on their own terms.

All in all, the day was encouraging, with large numbers of people showing a willingness to take direct action and defy police attempts to keep the protest from being anything more than a routine walk from one end of the city to the other. Many onlookers were supportive, honking their car horns, clapping and cheering as the march passed. While today won't be enough to stop the cuts on its own, it showed the beginnings of a growing movement to fight the cuts in Merseyside, if we build on this momentum and continue to take action, we can win.

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