In protest at incidents of police brutality and allegations of prejudiced views of the Metropolitan Police, the #CopsOffCampus movement had organised a protest against Chief of the Met Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who was speaking on campus inside the Jubilee building.
The #CopsOffCampus movement I witnessed was something of a paradox; intending to cause enough disruption to guarantee journalistic attention, then resenting the attention given to them. Many protesters hid their faces and refused to be interviewed, and one protester even attempted to force me to remove the photos I had taken.
Of those I did manage to speak to, a demonstrator named Anne told me that ‘I hope to show this officer [Hogan-Howe] that we don’t agree with his views. One of the issues that really bugs me is how they [the Met] handle cases of race hate and crimes against women’.
A protester who wished to remain anonymous was of the more aggressive stance that: ‘I believe we should abolish the police. We don’t need to defer power to get people to look after us’.
After the short march towards Jubilee it looked like a standoff had been reached with the security at the main entrance. Then suddenly the protesters got the break they were looking for; security had left a side door unlocked and unattended, and demonstrators were able to flood into the building before being finally blocked on the main staircase.
Jubilee was still open to classes, and in the rooms above an audience had begun to gather to witness the spectacle of clashes between protesters and campus security, including sympathisers holding ‘No Justice No Peace’ signs up to the glass walls.
Yet again the moment it seemed an impasse had formed protesters were splintering off again, bundling a security guard over as they ascended to the higher floors of Jubilee.
On reaching the first floor security attempted to lock the protesters in a small section by the stairs, only for protesters to fight back and prevent this apparent attempt at ‘kettling’.
With the lifts shut down and a number of fire escapes blocked off the security were managing to keep a tenuous grasp on preventing protesters accessing the lecture theatre Hogan-Howe was in, if nothing more. After a rendezvous back at the main staircase the protesters decided to go back outside and wait for Hogan-Howe to leave the building.
Soon afterwards they were re-joined by Students Union Communications Officer Michael Segalov, who had managed to attend the speech by Hogan-Howe. Of the event itself Segalov commented that ‘there was about nine people there, I think all of whom are members of University staff… What happened today is that students and staff weren’t allowed to ask questions to the chief of the Metropolitan Police, which is hugely problematic’.
The day was drawing to a close and my welcome as a Tab reporter was wearing very thin when a massive police escort turned up at a back entrance. Moments later the man himself Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe appeared and was given a teary farewell by the #CopsOffCampus protesters.