Gallery: Student protester brands tuition fees riot “disgusting”
A 17-YEAR-OLD student protester caught in the middle of Wednesday’s violent tuition fees demonstration has branded the attacks on Conservative HQ as “disgusting”.
The Stevenage teenager, who does not want to be named, took to the capital’s streets with 30,000 other demonstrators to oppose a proposed rise in university tuition fees to a potential �9,000 a year.
He said: “Basically I oppose the increase in tuition fees, I don’t believe in paying for higher education.
“I along with around 30,000 decided to get our voices heard.”
What started as a peaceful protest soon escalated after a small minority headed towards the Conservative Party’s headquarters in Millbank Tower, in Westminster, and attacked the building.
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The 6th form student said: “We were directed by people, I don’t know if they were students organising the march, to storm the place.”
“A big group of people got into the building, I was pushed in as well.”
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The Metropolitan Police soon arrived and threw up a cordon, splitting the protesters and trapping some inside.
The teenager, who describes himself as a liberal socialist, managed to break through the police and rejoin the main protest.
Fires were lit and the police were pelted with missiles by the crowd.
He said: “When the people inside got out they started throwing things, one window was broken and that made people smash all of the windows.
“Rioters got onto the roof and threw things they had found inside into the crowd.
“Someone threw a fire extinguisher off the roof – that was when the crowd started booing them.”
“I thought the violence was disgusting. I don’t think that it helped the cause.”
Fifty people were arrested during the protest and have subsequently been released on police bail.
The teenager had travelled to the protest with three friends and captured dramatic images of the unfolding violence, they escaped unharmed and are now back studying.
He said: “The early part of the march was just what I expected- it was relatively peaceful, just loud, everyone was just there for the cause.”
To see more dramatic photos from the demonstration click the gallery link at the top right of this page.