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More political persecution of student activists

Dan Edmonds reports on the latest round of students going through the courts after the protests

AS THE courts prepare to give recent alleged rioters punitive sentences and the right wing media clamour for harsher punishments, we should not forget the attacks that the state launched on protesters in the aftermath of the student and youth movement last year.

Over 200 people were arrested on the demonstrations against the slashing of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and the tripling of university fees. Many demonstrators have been handed lengthy sentences by a court system desperate to turn them into ‘examples’ and scare future would-be protesters into staying at home.

Edward Woollard, the 18-year-old sixth-former who infamously threw a fire extinguisher off the roof of Tory HQ, was jailed for 32 months in January. He was given a longer sentence for his moment of madness than many people convicted of robbery or rape. Recognising his actions were potentially dangerous, protestors reprimanded people on the roof to stop throwing things.
In July, Charlie Gilmour was given a 16-month sentence for kicking a Topshop window, setting fire to some paper, and carrying a mannequin leg on the 9 December demonstration. The right-wing press has further tried to demonise him by repeatedly describing him swinging from the cenotaph, alleging that he tried to attack the royal car, and showing him holding a rock and a REVOLUTION flag.

As if these cases of political prosecution weren’t bad enough, there is also the case of Alfie Meadows, who was beaten into a coma by police batons on the same demo. He now faces charges of violent disorder after nearly being killed due to his beating.

The courts are passing disproportionate sentences to discourage future radical protests against the Con-Dems and their vicious cuts. These attempts to criminalise young people, ruining their lives and robbing them of their youth, are part of a drive to ensure that working-class people and youth are forced to pay for a capitalist crisis. While police can murder, assault and falsely imprison with impunity, we face victimisation and lengthy jail spells for fighting for a decent future.

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