Over one hundred students walked out of lessons today in order to protest the proposed withdrawal of Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA). Students from colleges and further education establishments from all over Nottingham staged walkouts and congregated in Market Square for a protest brimming with passion, defiance and purpose. After a number of speeches made by college students and supporters from the local area, protesters set off on a march around the square, targeting tax avoiders Vodafone and Boots in an effort to highlight their role in the current financial crisis and the coalition government’s program of cuts.
Moving onto the Conservative Party Headquarters to voice their anger, the protesters encountered the heavy-handed police response to such public protests first hand as one student was grabbed, detained and arrested outside Tory HQ. As protesters demonstrated for his release, the detained student was sneaked out of the rear of the building and taken to Bridwell police station. Upon realising this, the protesters made the move toward the police station. En route the protest marched through a Boots store and forced the closure of a Vodafone store in the Victoria shopping centre, before staging a thirty-minute sit-down in a third Vodafone store. Under a greater police presence they continued their march to their final destination of Bridwell police station, offering solidarity and support for the arrested student. After a number of hours, the detained student was released with a fixed penalty punishment.
This successful attempt to highlight and protest the removal of EMA was met with wide support from the local community and emphasised the range of protesters campaigning against Government cuts, with university students, further education students, unions and local campaign groups uniting against the disastrous policies of the ConDem government. With many events and protests taking place over the coming weeks and months, the fight against imposed austerity will continue to grow and develop. Nottingham Students Against Fees and Cuts will continue to support struggles against government cuts in Nottingham and across the country.