This is a call out for an urgent mobilisation at the University of London Union (ULU) in opposition to the continued practices of police intimidation, surveillance and assault on students, workers and higher education activists.
On the 14th November Michael Chessum, the current President of the University of London Union, was arrested for organising a political demonstration on campus. He has been elected to public office to fulfill a specific mandate which the Metropolitan police, by force, will not allow him to fulfill. Furthermore, in his bail conditions he is specifically prohibited from defending the University of London Union from its imminent abolition. The whims of a chief inspector trump the democratic mandate of an elected officeholder. On the same day it is discovered that police officers in Cambridge attempted to hire informants within student activist circles. It must be made clear however that this was not a oneoff, a ‘rogue cop’, this is common practice, on every campus, and on this occasion this particular officer was caught. In a similar vein Cambridge student activists are not uniquely targeted and likewise Mr Chessum’s arrest, while unfortunate, is newsworthy but not especially interesting. Police intimidation, violence and surveillance are most commonly experienced by the working class and minorities outside of university campuses. But this is where we are and by taking this action we hope to extend solidarity to those communities.
In the months leading up to Michael’s arrest yesterday we have seen: the violent arrest of student activists supporting living wage campaigns; increased police surveillance of both students and trade unionists on university campuses; the arrest of the vicepresident of the University of London Union for intervening in the racial profiling of students as they were stop and searched by police officers. Surveillance, intimidation, arrest, assault, malicious prosecution, untrue testimony the hallmarks of a police force whose legitimacy is rapidly diminishing. These trends are palpable throughout the whole of society and extend far beyond the limited parameters of the student body – the violence of the Police is known across the country.
Free assembly is the means to social change, social change that can not be afforded within the current economic context. Otherwise separated individuals unifying around a common grievance or cause present a threat to established institutions of power and it is for this reason and no other that free assembly is increasingly prohibited. The police state is a necessity for enforcing austerity. This situation is not tenable and while the present climate means that those who choose to protest place themselves at risk of this same violence, data collection and intimidation, it is clear that events are now deteriorating so rapidly, almost by the week, that we are left with little choice but to take purposeful collective action.
We urge everyone, students and non-students, alike to come to this protest and publicise amongst your organisations, networks and friends
We will no longer be intimidated.