At 1pm over 300 students gathered in Bristo Square, Edinburgh, to begin a day of protest in resistance to cuts and fees; meanwhile, 50 workers and benefit claimants were holding a demonstration outside Edinburgh’s A4E offices. The two marches were organised in solidarity with each other, and soon the students were marching down Lothian Road, the workers and claimants joining them, all chanting “No Ifs! No Buts! No Education Cuts!” and “Nick Clegg, shame on you! Shame on you for turning blue!”
The diverse protest marched on to the LibDem HQ by Haymarket, where the students held a sit-down study-in in the middle of the street, encouraged by passing traffic! We heard speeches from lecturers, local activists, politicians, workers, claimants and students, and then posted a copy of Nick Clegg’s pledge to oppose education cuts through the letter box — just to remind them.
The march carried on through the streets of Edinburgh, gaining support from residents and school students. At busy junctions we sat down in the road — the traffic wasn’t happy, but it made our presence known and got our message across. Heavily chaperoned by the police all the way, we paid a visit to the University’s Registry Offices, which we briefly occupied. Here we faced a stand-off with the police, who refused to allow more legitimate and peaceful protesters into the building. Eventually, deciding we had made our point, we regrouped at George Square — and then took everyone by surprise.
Still hundreds strong, we marched to a nearby lecture theatre (Appleton Tower, Lecture Theatre 2) and promptly, peacefully and effectively occupied it. We began a public meeting to discuss the future of this protest, and soon resolved to stay for the long term, until some crucial demands were met. We’re now finalising these demands for presentation to the University, getting our bedding ready for tonight, and trying to secure freedom of movement, so that more people from all walks of life can join and extend our protest.
Come on down! Solidarity!