Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Fees demo brings chaos to streets

Protesters target a police van in Westminster
Students protest against an increase in university tuition fees in central London
A protester smashes a bus shelter during a demonstration against an increase in university tuition fees

Protesters angered by proposals to increase university tuition fees have brought violence and chaos to the streets once again.

Tens of thousands of students were joined by lecturers and parents during a national day of action against the controversial changes.

Organisers said the marches, occupations and sit-ins were an opportunity for protesters to make their voices heard peacefully. But 17 people were treated for injuries sustained during the protests.Thirteen of them required hospital treatment, including two police officers.

At least 32 people were arrested in connection with the protests as barriers were thrown and fires lit in the street. The clashes centred around a stranded police van that was ransacked and looted a short distance from the entrance to Downing Street.

Police were forced to "kettle" hundreds of protesters for around four hours a short distance from the Houses of Parliament as tensions ran high - a tactic defended by the Met as a necessary "last resort" to control the crowd after some demonstrators became violent towards police.

Protesters threw missiles at buses in central London, smashing windows and causing many routes to be diverted away from the Whitehall and Trafalgar Square area.

Street cleaners attended the site of the demonstration in Parliament Street, and Westminster City Council estimated it would take them around six hours to clean the area up.

Thousands also joined protest marches in Manchester, Liverpool and Brighton as pupils walked out of school in Winchester, Cambridge, Leeds and London, while students occupied buildings in Oxford, Birmingham, Cambridge, Bristol, Plymouth and in the capital.

Two protesters were arrested in Cambridge for obstruction, one in Liverpool for egg throwing and four in Manchester for public order offences and obstruction. Two people, a 15-year-old boy and 41-year-old man, were also arrested in Brighton.

Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said: "People obviously have a right to engage in lawful and peaceful protest, but there is no place for violence or intimidation."

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