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As you will know the student protests have been raging over the past month but it was today that they came to the boil. Across the country, but particularly in London and Parliament Square, the protests over student fees were at their largest on the day that the vote was passed in the House of Commons.
The NUS had arranged a peaceful protest in London to coincide with the vote taking place on the future of UK student fees. However as you will have seen in the news today the protests took a sour turn as 153 arrests were made and some police officers injured.
Nick Clegg and David Cameron did not stay for the duration of the debate which raged on throughout the afternoon. At the same time as the debate the student protest was heating up in London. Students took their protest to the parliament square where they were kettled in by the police.
It was after the vote was passed to increase the fees to £9,000 a year that the protests took a nasty turn. The pictures in this article show the police line that was there to stop the students and a fire that was started. After the vote was past many students heard the news and a roar could be heard in parliament square along with chanting.
The BBC reported that student protesters were throwing breeze blocks at police and had made their own riot shields to charge forward. The protesters also attempted to smash the windows of and break into the treasury building. Alongside this protesters threw paint and smoke bombs and daubed graffiti all over parliament square.
This violence caused the police to retaliate as they charged the crowds with horses and used force to push the protesters back. By kettling the protesters into parliament square they aimed to slowly let small numbers go home. This was an attempt to keep violence at a low but it seemed to enrage many of the protesters.
The protests then moved to Oxford street where some trouble makers smashed the windows of Topman’s flagship store in protest against Sir Philip Green. There was disruption in this area to many tourists and Christmas shoppers alike. Eyewitnesses said that there was a hostile atmosphere.
One of the major stories to come out of the protests was the attack on Prince Charles and Camilla. They were on their way to the Royal Variety performance when their car was attacked by a minority of trouble makers. They set upon Charles and Camilla’s car with paint and managed to smash the back window. Photos can be seen of Charles and Camilla looking shocked as they were attacked.
It is unfortunate in some ways that the protests took such a violent turn. This interest will not only have effects on short-term politics, but well into the future as young voters become weary of pledges and promises made by power-hungry politicians.
Finally, with the vote passed today, many protesters have said that this is not the end of the protests and that they intend to show their discontent with the decision that was made.