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School and college students step up the pace in Newcastle demonstrations

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On Tuesday 30 November in Newcastle, hundreds of students from schools, colleges and universities made it through the snow to take action against cuts and rising fees. At the beginning of the demonstration, FRFI hosted an open mic against the cuts, including young people who had never spoken in public before, speaking out against the attacks on their future. Following a successful march coordinated by the occupiers of the Fine Arts Building at Newcastle University, hundreds went on to take further action against the banks and corporations whose interests are being served by the cuts. Over the next few hours protests took place inside local branches of Vodaphone, Lloyds TSB and HSBC. A large sit-down protest took place in the middle of Fenwicks, which hosts a Topshop department, owned by the billionaire, notorious tax-dodger and government adviser on the cuts, Philip Green. Police demonstrated once again the interests they serve, attempting unsuccessfully to prevent demonstrators from leaving the university campus to take action against banks in the city centre. But despite being harassed, pursued, threatened with arrest and at times kettled by the police, these demonstrators supported each other and refused to back down, and there were no arrests.

The actions revealed a clear divide within the student movement. Some of those among the SWP and the organisers of the university occupation objected strongly to any action continuing beyond the march that they had discussed and agreed with the police. But the hundreds of young people, predominantly working class school and college students, who took direct action today made it clear that they will not be restricted to forms of resistance which fit the bourgeois and hypocritical ‘respectability’ of the police and government. They are demonstrating the determination and courage that the movement will need in order to stop the cuts. They will not be silenced.

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