Since yesterdays highly successful and well attended demonstration against the injunction, I have come under considerable criticism from certain individuals, mainly those with strong connections to the Guild. The nature of the criticism is that I ‘hijacked’ the march and led it off the ‘offical’ planned route.
The protest was ‘hijacked’
I think the question is how could the protest be ‘hijacked’ against its will? What caused the entire crowd of around 200 people to deviate off the route, despite lots of Guild stewards and the rest of the Sabbatical Officer team attempting to physically block them whilst screaming at them not to leave the ‘offical’ route? Those stating so loudly that the protets was ‘hijacked’ are effectively saying that the entire protest ‘hijacked’ itself. They are suggesting that hundreds of people cant think for themselves . The complete deviation from the route came not as the result of one persons actions but the more general will of those involved.
The protest was ‘violent’
People may get pushed at a train station or in a club, however these actions are not violent because they do not involve malicous intent or a dis-proporationate level of force. Just as students trying to move past each other in a crowd is not ‘violent’, as is currently being claimed. I witnessed no dis-proportionate or criminal use of force by students against other students or staff and no one has been charged with assault or any other violent crime. If you feel you were assaulted by someone or witnessed an assault the responsible thing to do is report it to the police.
On the other hand, there was a lot of force directed towards protestors by security and the police. In what is becoming a disturbing trend, security and police came on to campus and openly intimidated and assaulted students, actions which have not yet been met by any condemnation from the Guild or University.
The only ‘official’ route permitted by the University was between the Guild and the Clocktower, a 3 minute walk from A to B. They grudgingly allowed loud hailers after negotiation. Maybe the reason why so many people were willing to deviate from the march route was because they felt that in light of the injunction (the subject of the protest) it was not acceptable for the University to completely dictate the nature of the protest.
So what was my role?
I do accept my reponsiblility for my role in the protest as one of many organisers; a Sabbatical Officer and a participant.
I personally got up on stage at the begining of the demo and read out a health and saftey annoncement, telling people not to deviate from the planned route. Even further to this on stage I personally requested that the demo follow the planned route and did not follow me if I went off route.
The real issue here is not my alleged mis-conduct but the continuing attack by the University on the right of students to express themselves politically on campus, the highly politicised and discriminatory disciplinary of Simon Furse, and now the wrongful arrest of two students.
Ultimately if you believe my conduct warrants censure or even a VONC please bring the issue to Guild Council , it is a far more transparent and accountable way for me to respond to your criticism than endless threads on Facebook forums which hardly any students read.