Statement from Goldsmiths SU re-affirming their commitment to defending the right to protest and to support Alfie Meadows’ case.
On the 9th of December 2010 students from across the country demonstrated outside parliament against the introduction of £9,000 a year tuition fees. Many students came to protest against the effects of privatisation in their universities; Alfie Meadows was one of them, opposing the closure of the philosophy department at Middlesex University.
The behaviour of the police on the demonstration, as subsequent video footage has revealed, involved kettling students for hours on Westminster Bridge in sub-zero temperatures, charges by mounted police, and attacking the demonstration with police batons. Alfie was struck so hard on the head with a police baton that he needed emergency brain surgery.
After the demonstration the police launched a campaign criminalise students, arresting and charging scores of people, and in the process attempting curtail the right to protest. Not one police officer faced disciplinary or legal investigation following the demonstration, yet Alfie was charged with violent disorder.
The jurors in Alfie’s trial earlier this year failed to reach a verdict, while three other students tried at the time were cleared. Alfie now faces a retrial on the 29th of October.
Alfie and other protesters would not be facing these trials if it were not for the austerity policies – of which the attacks on education are one part – being forced through by the coalition government. His retrial will take place as the effects of cuts and privatisation wreak havoc across higher education.
We plan on continuing those protests this Autumn. We believe our students have the right to challenge these decidedly un-democratic reforms and they have the right to be defended if they are criminalized for doing so.
We stand with Alfie against attempts to criminalise him, call for the charges to be dropped and pledge to join the protest in his support on the first day of his re-trial at Kingston Crown Court.