Warwick Students’ Union absolutely condemns the disproportionate use of force by Police on protestors at yesterday’s Free Education demonstration. While the full facts surrounding the incidents are still being established, the use of CS spray, excessive physical force and the threat of tasering is unprecedented on our campus, and the footage captured by students in attendance last night is deeply disturbing.
Our current understanding of the timeline leading up to the incident is that police officers were called following an allegation of assault on a member of Campus Security during the initial entry into Senate House. Once the officers arrived, the situation escalated, leading to the arrest of 3 members of the group (one on suspicion of assault and two for obstructing police) who have subsequently been bailed. CCTV footage is currently being consulted by local police to ascertain the exact sequence of events.
Once again, we stand in solidarity with students who were unnecessarily harmed in this action, and our primary concern is obviously with the welfare of those who were directly affected by yesterday’s events. Students who were in attendance last night are urged to contact the SU’s Advice Centre for support and further information regarding formal complaints procedures, while the University’s Residential Life team is also offering pastoral care where relevant for those who live on campus.
The role of debate, discussion and dissent are a key part of a democratic society, and students have the right to protest both within the University community and beyond. We are appalled by the severity of the Police’s actions last night and, as a matter of the highest urgency, the Sabbatical Officer team have been in constant contact this morning with members of the University’s Senior Management team to demand clarification and answers on behalf of the student body.
A further demonstration is planned outside Senate House at 3:30pm today, at which Sabbatical Officers will be in attendance. This is intended as a peaceful rally to protest against last night’s actions, and we therefore urge all those attending to exercise good judgement, caution and restraint when participating in what are understandably emotional circumstances for many. Student safety and welfare remains our highest priority, and we echo the hopes of many that this demonstration passes without further incident.