Some 40 Middlesex students and lecturers, present and past, gathered outside Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith, west London, today to hold a vigil for their friend and fellow student Alfie Meadows.
Alfie is recovering from brain surgery after he was hit on the head by a police truncheon during the student protest in London yesterday. He walked around dazed before being found by a friend who tried to get police to call an ambulance.
His friends say police initially refused, despite the fact that Alfie was bleeding from his head. But eventually the police did call an ambulance.
Alfie lost consciousness in the ambulance and had to undergo emergency brain surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain as a result of the blow. His friends and fellow students, concerned and angry, have decided to call a protest outside Scotland Yard on Tuesday of next week against the police violence on the student protests.
“I was outraged and scared for Alfie”, said Johann, a Middlesex University student. “I was afraid something like this would happen because the police were so violent yesterday.
“People call smashing buildings violence, but it isn’t. Police repeatedly charged and provoked the crowd—that’s the real violence I witnessed.
Greg, a friend of Alfie told Socialist Worker, “When we got to Parliament Square we were kettled. A lot of people feel we’ve done everything we can—how else do we express our anger?
“I feel sad and angry seeing my friend like this. We have to keep protesting—Alfie would agree.”
One of Alfie’s lecturers, Christian Kerslake, was also at the vigil. He told Socialist Worker, “I’ve come to find out how Alfie is. We are all very concerned. I went on the protest to express solidarity with the students. I am shocked at the police behaviour. It seems to have been a turn for the worse.”
Students formed a campaign group today, determined that the police be held responsible for Alfie’s condition. But they also want to raise the tactics of the police on protests.
Cas, one of the students involved in setting up the campaign, told Socialist Worker, “This morning I woke up and read about Alfie on the internet. I am very upset and shocked even though I saw how aggressive the police were yesterday. It made me think of the case of Ian Tomlinson on the G20 protest, and Blair Peach who was killed by police on an anti-Nazi protest.
“We want to make this part of a larger campaign against police violence.”
The campaign is calling on students and workers to kettle Scotland Yard—the home of the Metropolitan Police—on Tuesday.
“We want everyone who can to join us, wearing hard hats to symbolise police violence,” Cas said. “We want to highlight the dangers of kettling and the dangers of containment, especially when riot police and horses are sent charging into a crowd of contained protesters.”
When discussing where to protest one student said, “We should go to Scotland Yard, we shouldn’t be afraid”. Others agreed, “We have to go to the source of the problem,” said another.
Over 100 messages of support have flooded in since news of Alfie went out today. Messages of solidarity have come from school and university students and trade unionists including Tony Kearns from the CWU. and the PCS national executive.
Mark Bergfeld, an NUS executive member, told Socialist Worker, “Our thoughts and with Alfie and his family. The police behaviour yesterday was horrendous. It was like watching a scene from a repressive regime. It shows the political impotence of the coalition government—they voted through a brutal assault on students, protected by their watchdogs, the police, who were brutally attacking students outside. We have to bring this government down.”