Britain’s capital London and the city of Manchester were hit by anarchy and chaos Saturday as thousands of students took to the streets in anti tuition fee protests.
In Westminster, Central London where back in December police injured and arrested scores of anti-fee rise protestors, students and trade unionists launched a huge thousands-strong rally chanting anti-government slogans, while, at the same time they adopted some measures to avoid clashes with police.
This time, demonstrators who had tasted the heavy-handed ‘kettling’ of the police, which triggered violent reactions from students last year, devised a mobile phone application to inform one another of police cordons avoiding clashes.
Their plan led to splinter groups spreading across London including in front of Tory headquarters in Milbank Tower, outside Egyptian embassy and at Downing Street.
Those who targeted the embassy chanted “London, Cairo – unite and fight” likening the situation in Britain to the massive anti-government movement in Egypt which is deemed to be spelling the end for President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
At Downing Street, protestors lit fires and shouted anti-government slogans.
The police arrested 4 in London while at least 16 others were taken into custody in Manchester where scuffles broke out after security officers ‘kettled’ demonstrators in the heart of the city.
Protestors in Manchester began their march peacefully surrounded by mounted police.
But a group of students who made a way through the police lines to head for the city center faced police violence with mounted officers chasing them and police on the ground using force to trap them.
Police insistence on the use of kettling to contain rallies comes as the Scotland Yard already faces legal action by human rights activists over its “inhuman and degrading treatment” of teenagers during the November 24 demonstrations.
The human rights group Liberty said back in December that police violated human rights by kettling minor protestors for up to nine hours as they were locked within officers’ cordon, injured and without access to medical help.
The case explains why demonstrators on Saturday went out of their way to avoid solid integrated rallies in favor of scattered gatherings and marches especially in London.