Riots on tuition fees

General comment, Photojournalism

Well you’ve all seen the photos of the student riots, but I thought I’d chuck in the few I took in the first hour or so.

I left about half an hour before it started to get really out of hand. The police were starting to get edgy and I didn’t really want to risk getting caught up in anything for the sake of a few photos that will probably only get as far as this blog… so there you go, I chickened out. But actually I had no desire to stick around and I’m not sorry I didn’t get the shots of police rushing the crowd on horseback or medics treating the unlucky (or was it asked for?) few students to get a baton to the face. I’m not saying I’m with the fee increase or not, that’s not the point, the fact is I got back to see students being interviewed on the BBC news saying that missiles (I saw snooker balls, eggs, firecrackers, flares and knocked down metal barriers) were thrown out of fear, yet for the first couple of hours the police didn’t react in anyway.

From what I experienced there was a surprisingly large amount of students that were happy to push down barriers, swear, provoke police and cause as much vandalism to whatever was in their vicinity as they could. I remember watching the riots on TV before thinking it was just a few individuals that were causing the trouble (smashing in the conservative party HQ’s windows), but in this crowd of thousands there were hundreds that were happy to indulge in a bit of violence. There were naturally a lot that weren’t happy with this behaviour but few of them seemed to care too much as they gathered around the fires and flares that were starting as I left while the sun was setting.

Perhaps the more amusing thing I saw was a group of sixth formers (I’m assuming) that started burning a few banners. It became a challenge as to what they should burn next, as one guy put his school tie on, then another put on the detention that Mr. Blake gave him this morning (huge laugh from his mates) and finally one of them had the bright idea of putting his maths homework on the growing flames. I watched them all empty the contents of their school bags on it. Brilliant. Were they aware that they were making a crushing statement: I won’t be able to go to University because of the enormous debt that will hang over my head, so i may as well give up now.

I’m guessing they were having fun burning stuff and didn’t fancy doing their homework. They were clearly not thinking about their futures…

This disabled student caused a bit of laughter by steering his electronic wheelchair in front of one of the police vans. On the pad he had in front of him, a policeman that lacked a sense of humour read out ‘Nick Clegg is a wan’ noting that he hadn’t finished the sentence.

Students start breaking up their banners and chucking them at the police.

Protesters trample down to metal barriers to the green and storm onto it.

Barriers were quickly used to throw at the line of riot police.

I didn’t quite understand the relevance of this banner. At least the ‘F**k fees’ banners had relevance, and even ‘Cut Nick’s Dick’ attempted to use some key words. ‘We are not your slaves!’ would make sense a couple hundred years ago I guess…

Who knows how the raise in fees will affect the future of students, I would have applied for university still even with the prospect of that debt. Though going into photography I think I would have made sure that I earned less than £21,000 a year for the rest of my life. Certainly for the next decade of my life I’ve got no danger of exceeding that… anyone want a family portrait?

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4 thoughts on “Riots on tuition fees

  1. maybe ‘we are not your slaves’ is a reference to kevin and perry? haha. though that kinda suggests they didnt get the joke…

    1. It’s the closest guess so far. Having said that, there was a guy with a ‘Attack on Iran will lead America Russia to World War III in Iraq’ banner, so maybe there was general confusion as to what the protests were actually supposed to be about…

  2. I appreciate how you photograph…it feels like I could have been there…I heard about this on the radio, but can see the attitude in your photos.

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