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Overwhelming police presence at student march: good or bad?

By River Reporter Nov 10, 2011

By Joyce See

Yesterday, students took to the streets of London in the third mass protest against education cuts.

While there was an expected turnout of 10,000 protesters, the final figure at the end of the march stands at less than a third and with over 4,000 police officers said to have been deployed for the march, much attention have been cast on the Met police, once again.

Equal number of police and protesters

Simple math will tell you that there were as many or if not more police officers on site than there were protesters. Having been a part of the march, I can tell you that it was slow, largely peaceful and at times even sedate. Why? Because there was simply no room for protesters to breakaway. After all, there were over 20 times more police officers at this year’s march than last year’s.

News and police helicopters flew overhead, police brought out their horses and dogs and were geared up in riot suits and barricading off large portions of London. At the end of the riot, we weren’t even allowed to get past the police barricade at Moorgate to the McDonalds that was a mere 10 metres away.  

Rubber bullets?

Today, the day after the march, much of the coverage of the march definitely has been on the overwhelming presence and their threats of using rubber bullets. Many have also felt that the police were egging on a fight.

Of course, I am in no way suggesting that a similar lack of police force as in the case of last year should take place again. But it would definitely be nice to have some kind of a balance. Students take to the streets in hopes for their voices to be heard and what happened yesterday was such a tightly controlled march that the whole point of the march almost seems to have been lost in fear of violence.

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