Wednesday, 1 December 2010

In Italy's student-led protests, it's culture itself that's resisting the cuts

Students, schoolchildren and sympathisers took to the streets again yesterday: in Brighton and around the country.

Many were 'kettled' by police in freezing temperatures: Green Party member of the Metropolitan Police Authority Jenny Jones is planning to call for a review of the tactic - and the Met's whole approach to policing demonstrations - at the next authority meeting in London.

Anyone from Brighton who travelled up for any of the London demos, and has anything to say about the way the police there handled things, do let me know and I'll pass their accounts on to Jenny.

There have been fewer complaints about the policing here in Brighton - most comments I have received have been poking fun rather than expressing concern: that said there was some 'kettling', and even a report or two of young people being tasered - so do let me know and I'll make sure all complaints are properly examined.

Education cuts have sparked student demonstrations in Italy too - as this photo shows students wearing crash helmets (and presumably enjoying slightly warmer temperatures than we're seeing in the UK at the moment) were perhaps better prepared for any police violence they may have encountered.

But for me the really interesting thing about this photo was that it shows the protesters were carrying shields adorned with the names of book: Melville's Moby Dick, Plato's Republic and even the Wu-Ming Foundation's 'Q' were among the titles chosen.

By putting literature in the front line, the students and their sympathisers made the excellent point that it's not just the people - it's culture itself - that is under attack from education cuts.

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