Student whose foot was “run over by a car” during peaceful protests against ‘UWE arms fair’ describes lack of support from UWESU and UWE

Featured image from southerngeekgirl blog.

Almost a year has passed since the repression of peaceful student protests against DPRTE aka the ‘UWE arms fair’ on campus on 20 November 2013, and the launch of the campaign for an independent review into those events.

We’ve sent an open letter to UWE’s Vice-Chancellor and to the Board of Governors and both have ignored us. The university’s spokesperson even claimed that UWE had no information about student concerns after we sent the open letter to the VC, and that he received no information about it from UWE Students’ Union (UWESU) even though the five elected student presidents did receive a comprehensive account of those events from participants on 21 November 2013.
We have asked our student newspaper to relay our story and arguments but the Western Eye — UWE’s self-proclaimed “totally independent student newspaper” — have dismissed our campaign even though we have had local, national and international media coverage. Like the student newspaper, our Students’ Union has silenced us, making it  very hard for us to reach the wider student body. On a more positive note, we have recently learnt that the local branch of the University and College Union (UWE UCU) wrote to UWE to inform them that they are now supporting our campaign and that  they too are demanding an independent review. However, UWE has also been ignoring them so far.
As a further step in this campaign, one UWE student who participated to those protests agreed to anonymously share the witness statement s/he wrote.
When arriving at the arms fair, early at around there was already somebody trouble occurring with the peaceful protesters and the police, causing one person to be arrested. This however did not stop the peaceful protesting and things did not become tense because of this. Many issues arose that day, one of the biggest ones for me being the lack of help and protection from the UWESU.
I was unlucky enough to get my foot run over by a car, with the UWE security turning a blind eye to this. Me and a few others were peacefully holding a banner from one side of the gate to another, when the man in the car become inpatient and frustrated. This then led the man in the car to attempt to drive very very close to me, which I then quickly realised was becoming unsafe for me as he showed no sign of stopping. I then tried to move out of the way when his car was almost touching me, but I could not move my foot in time which then led it to be ran over. I then approached the mans car, asking him why he didn’t stop. He stated that ‘he was in a rush’ and ‘I was going to damage his car’. I am in no way someone who would damage someones car and I certainly wasn’t giving off the signals that day that it was my intention.
Following this matter, the police took my details and asked what happened. I was very upset and concerned that even though the event took place right in front of the UWE security desk at the north entrance, not one member of staff from UWE or UWESU approached me or showed any concern for my wellbeing.

#reviewUWE and #disarmUWE campaign updates

Hi everyone,

On Monday, we bombarded the office of UWE’s Vice-Chancellor and Governors with paper airplanes demanding them to #reviewUWEfollowing the repression as well as issues with health and safety, duty of care and democratic rights, during the ‘impeccable’ protests against the arms fair that took place on campus last November.

That action built the #reviewUWE campaign, not least by triggering the release of our open letter to UWE’s Governors and getting several media interested in our campaign, especially BCFm and Ujima, two influential local radios. Moreover, as part of the Global Day of Action against Military Spending (#GDAMS), the action also highlighted for the first time that our university is stuck between the Ministry of Defence and military industries including several arms dealers.

At the 17 April meeting, we discussed ideas for an anti-arms student campaign, and how to engage students next year (more info to be posted about this soon). In the meantime, at university-level, we still have some follow-up work to complete to address the repression of our protests last November, especially to push for an independent review, and to build legal cases that could set important precedents, for example to keep #copsoffcampus.

There are now two requests that need your urgent attention:

  • On Wednesday (23 April) 13:00-13:30, we need at least one more person, preferably a woman and a UWE student, to speak about our campaign on Ujima Radio (Cheryl Morgan’s show). Please email uwe.better.together@gmail.com if you’re able/interested.
  • On Thursday (24 April), the legal team will meet with our solicitors to share information we have collected so far. If you were present at the protests on 20 November 2013, please send your witness statements by Wednesday 5pm at the latest to support the legal frontline of this campaign, and in solidarity with students building cases.

If you want to help but have no more than one or two minutes:

  • Share this update with other people who have been involved with these campaigns, or may be interested (we still don’t have everyone’s emails).
  • Sign the petition to #reviewUWE, share and promote it on facebook, twitter, etc. We already have about 90 signatures and we need 150 student signatures to call a UWESU referendum which would at least force UWESU to provide minimal information about this campaign to the student body.

If you have more time and interest to contribute, please get in touch (uwe.better.together@gmail.com) or take a task or a role. Lots of important and exciting things are coming up, and lecturers will probably need our solidarity if the marking ban goes through. Moreover, some of us will launch ‘better together’ as an alternative UWE-based newspaper. If you want to see change really happening at UWE, now is the time ;)

Thank you!

Photo report of #reviewUWE and #GDAMS day of action at UWE Bristol

We had a fun and instructive walk around campus this afternoon.
Map_review_UWE

This little action also already proved quite effective since UWESU, the Deputy Clerk to the Board of Governors and the Editor of the student newspaper stopped ignoring us, and all got in touch shortly before or after the action!

We’ll be posting more updates about this campaign soon but, for the time being, we’ve put together a short photo report of the afternoon. Please join our next coordination meeting this coming Thursday (17 April) at 5:30 in Core24 at UWE Frenchay if you want to get involved. Please also don’t forget to sign the petition if you haven’t done this already.

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Students and supporters gather at UWE’s bus station at Frenchay. Some students came from as far as Portsmouth for this day of action!

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In the corridors of UWE’s Frenchay campus.

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On the way to the Farmhouse, the office of UWE’s Vice-Chancellor and the building where UWE’s Board of Governors meet.

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Activist arms factory: today we’re making paper airplanes.

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Those paper airplanes are to bombard the farmhouse with messages and requests to hold an independent review.

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This may seem small but this is the first time ever that there is a student protest at the doorstep of the Vice-Chancellor’s office (not that there aren’t many reasons to do so!)

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Trying to communicate with UWE’s Vice-Chancellor (who ignored our open letter) by aiming our paper airplanes at one opened window (which they soon closed).

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The Farmhouse: bombarded

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A message from UWE students and their supporters for UWE’s Vice-Chancellor and the university’s Board of Governors

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Inside the entrance of Thales

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We were followed by the police who were more gentle than last November.

If you haven’t already, please consider signing, sharing and promoting our petition to #reviewUWE. To be continued …

Signatures of the petition calling for an independent review of the repression of ‘UWE arms fair’ protests

If you haven’t signed this petition yet, please consider doing so here.

# Name Institution Comment
steve.philbey Once more the Iron Heel shows it’s face. I give solidarity to student action that faces down University police repression of protest against the killing machine being given space to spawn on campus.
***** ***** (13/4/2014@3:34pm) I am sickened, and deeply saddened by our country’s hypocracy. On the one hand condemning other countries for their acts of aggression, while promoting the sale of arms to the very same countries.
***** ***** (14/4/2014@7:30am) University of the West of England The university should not be showing support to this industry. It’s blood money.
Rory Maclean When a university, which is place for people to grow and learn, uses it’s facilities to promote companies which thrive from warfare and chaos, it has devalued it’s students and makes them complicit in an industry of death.
Reg Lee This is unwarranted and unacceptable repression of free speech and the right to protest. Our fathers fought and died for those rights and they are absolutely not yours to take away!
Helen Lewarne This type of repression is the trademark of fascism and must be ended immediately.
***** ***** (9/4/2014@3:38am) Bristol University Appalling- not only does UWE hold an arms fair and support the arms trade, it suppresses the right for students to freedom of speech, the fair right of students with humanity to stand up against the disgraceful killing trade affiliated with the university.
kevin fitzmaurice-brown Photojournalist Excellent work ! The extreme cognitive dissonance of those involved in the weapons industry will only ever be changed by those whose minds have evolved beyond money for death illuminating the dark corners.
Luke Dukinfield Warwick Repression of peaceful protest must cease. There should be no penance for striving to champion harmony, democracy and justice on our campuses – for struggling to sentinel the integrity of the University as a public institution of learning rather than a private enterprise of profit, especially when that profit is submerged in blood. Exile cops from campus, and return the University to those who sustain its operation each and every day – the students and workers, united.
Patricia McManus University of Sussex What place has an arms fair on a University campus? Those students had a responsibility to protest such an obscenity.
***** ***** (5/4/2014@9:53am) University of Bristol This archaic approach to protest is highly unintelligtent.
***** ***** (3/4/2014@10:40am) UWE Bristol A university that represses its own protesting students is not a university anymore.
Martyn Wood UWE alumni I work with nursing students from UWE, all caring & well-trained individuals. The contrast with their university which can suppress student protests at the “defence industry” being allowed onto their campus is alarming. I support the conscientious students, not the management who lack an understanding of their student’s rights & wishes.
***** ***** (8/4/2014@4:52am) UWE (2005-2012) A Right to air your voice and a right to protest must be maintained in a democratic society
Ade Couper
Bevan Richardson UWE Bristol
Graham Martin
***** ***** (6/4/2014@1:45am) UWE Bristol
Nicola Willis Bristol University
William Morris UWE Bristol
Ben Storey UWE Bristol
Jay Stone UWE Bristol
Faye Quinn UWE Bristol
***** ***** (7/4/2014@1:24pm) University of the West of England
Charlotte Sexauer UWE
Roseanne Sinfield
Anthony Killick UWE alumni
Giulia Zampini University of Kent
Haris
***** ***** (7/4/2014@12:44pm)
Guy Allen uwe grad
Lee Salter Sussex
***** ***** (7/4/2014@2:55pm) UWE
Greg Tuck (ex)UWE
Nadia Arancio
Simon Moreton UWE
george kosmopoulos University of the West of England
***** ***** (7/4/2014@11:27pm) UWE
Andy Medhurst University of Sussex
William McEvoy University of Sussex
Gareth Roberts UWE Graduate
Einar Thorsen Bournemouth University
***** ***** (8/4/2014@3:01am) UKC
***** ***** (8/4/2014@2:30am) UWE
Dr James Kneale UCL
Jilly Kay De Montfort University (UWE alumni)
Matt Hollinshead UWE
***** ***** (8/4/2014@7:29am) UWE
aisha iqbal UWE
Nathan Wagstaff
Donald Saunders
Deirdre King
Rowland Carson
Judy Kerr
Stephen Hunt
George Millman
***** ***** (9/4/2014@6:57am) UWE
***** ***** (9/4/2014@6:29am) UWE
dave balkwill DBalkwill
Robynn Lee Kaiser /
Laura Denning
Ms Sue Ellery
Dave Rendle
***** ***** (15/4/2014@4:43am) UWE
Tom Nottingham University
***** ***** (14/4/2014@1:32pm) UWE
Piala Murray
Annette Taberner
Corinna Taylor RHUL
Jude Pettigrew
Rob Mitchell UWE
***** ***** (14/4/2014@7:10am) UWE
***** ***** (12/4/2014@9:59am)
Lucy Sparks
***** ***** (12/4/2014@4:36am) UWE
***** ***** (11/4/2014@7:49pm) University of Bristol Education is a right. Not a privilege.
***** ***** (11/4/2014@3:04pm)
***** ***** (11/4/2014@8:58 am) UWE
***** ***** (11/4/2014@8:57am) UWE [anonymised]
Jimmy Gibson University of Bristol
John Harris OU & Cardiff Uni UWE will say that they have a right to host events and lease space for
events on their property when this does not conflict with and damage
their fundamental duty to their principle customer, in this case the
students of UWE.They will say they have an absolute right to establish relationships
without consultation with, and without the agreement of UWE’s
principal clientele group.How can we tell that the students are the primary customers?

All we have to do is to examine the meaning and purpose of this
university, or indeed almost any university.

Many tests can be applied to determine the majority legal obligations
of a body like UWE, such as the extent to which it accepts public
money, or money that comes from public sources, as well as the purpose
for which this funding is granted or allocated.

On a more practical level, it will be clear to everyone that if UWE’s
main clients, the student body abandoned UWE, withdrawing their
patronage, UWE would soon need to release its academic staff and
either sell out to some commercial buyer, or become a completely
different institution, but this supposes that the Government would not
intervene before any such situation results.

A university must carefully consider the nature of any private
sponsorship, as well as the terms and conditions that pertain, and it
must consider its standing in the world, were it to break trust with
its primary clientele group.

It is also worth noting that the symbolism displayed with UWE’s Coat
of Arms – Light, Liberty, Learning – is a quotation from Benjamin
Disraeli, but the roots of UWE date back far longer to the formation
of the Merchant Venturers Navigation School in 1595.

Universities are generally said to have their legal status through a
combination of common law, and statutory and administrative law, and
any university, as a consequence, would do well to think long and hard
before it chooses to place its own needs ahead of those of its primary
clientele, the student body.

Brutalising members of your primary clientele, treading on their
rights and denying common freedoms is genuinely risky business, and
any august body that determines to do so is taking a decision to
become a high stakes gambler, and taking risks it may spend years
regretting as it struggles to repair its reputation, not to mention
that in the aftermath, any negotiated resolution can result in the
summary departure of a number of highly placed officials, as a
condition of restoring peaceful relationships and allowing the
principal business of the institution to resume.

***** ***** (11/4/2014@5:02am) UWE
Robin White
Ian Tippet
Felicity Dowling Principal Speaker, Left Unity Universities must have free speech. Money must not be allowed to dictate to universities. War is a real and present danger.
Linda Åkerström Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS)
***** ***** (18/4/2014@11:49am) UWE
Ashley Davy UWE
Stephen Le Fanu University of Bristol
Rachel O’Neill
***** ***** (20/4/2014@8:49am) UWE
***** ***** (19/4/2014@10:29am) UWE
***** ***** (19/4/2014@1:36am)
***** ***** (11/4/2014@6:23 am) UWE
Jimmy Gibson University of Bristol
christian northwood UWE
***** ***** (11/4/2014@5:02am) UWE
***** ***** (20/4/2014@8:49am) UWE
Lee Everson
Allison Challen Well done to all the peaceful protesters.
Rebecca
Weronika Sakowska UWE
Beth NCAFC
Alan Valentine

Last update of the list: 27 April 2014 at 5pm.

We provided the option to sign anonymously due to concerns of repression/retaliation. Such signatures and the related information appear as follows: ***** ***** (date the signature was received).

Open letter to UWE VC requesting independent review of 20 November 2013 protests against military business and arms fair at UWE

Dear Steve West, Vice-Chancellor of UWE,

In 2012 and 2013, the first two editions of ‘DPRTE’, a military business and arms fair key to the UK’s business of death, were hosted by UWE in its Exhibition and Conference Centre (ECC) at UWE’s Frenchay campus. A group of UWE students took part in protests against DPRTE 2013[1].

On 20 November 2013, the Western Eye, the only media that was present onsite and that thus could directly observe the protests, reported that “students stage[d] ‘impeccable’ protest” and that “Most student observations of the day’s events favoured the humble efforts of the protestors to hold both the ‘arms’ industry and UWE to account for it actions” (The WesternEye, 20/11/2013[2]).

However, at the end of the day, UWE students denounced UWE management’s strategy of “prioritising business of any kind, even at the detriment of the physical integrity and the freedom of expression of a handful of students who did their utmost best to air very important points, despite systematic silencing, hostility and even sometimes aggression.”[3]

Since then, it has become clear that protesters’ attempts to raise awareness about this event, and to open a debate about it, were met with considerable hostility, sometimes extending to harassment and violence, and systematic silencing, intimidation, repression and criminalisation. As a result, protesters’ health and safety, freedom of expression and democratic rights to protest were breached following actions, as well as inaction, from DPRTE participants, police, UWE and UWESU.

UWE students who participated in those protests now demand that UWE funds, impulses and facilitates a transparent, comprehensive and independent review to investigate the issues that arose through, and since, the protests against DPRTE on 20 November 2013.

A transparent review should:

  • Be widely publicised both within and beyond UWE, and provide clear procedures for people to get involved and provide input,
  • Protect sensitive or confidential data as well as the identity of witnesses,
  • Publicise the process for performing the review,
  • Widely publicise the outcomes of the review.

A comprehensive review should include investigations into, and make recommendations based on, the following areas:

  • UWE’s decision to rent out the ECC to DPRTE. Indeed, according to UWE students, this decision was not democratic, and contradicts some of the university’s claimed commitments, especially regarding social justice or sustainability.
  • UWE’s duty of care and democratic responsibilities, especially after Steve West [UWE’s Vice-Chancellor], Keith Hicks [UWE’s Director of Marketing & Communications], John Rushforth [UWE’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor], Paul Gough [UWE’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic)] and Lucy Wicksteed [UWE’s Head of Executive Support and Project Co-ordinator for the VC] were informed about, and decided to ignore, urgent concerns about health and safety and democratic rights raised by UWE students.
  • The role of UWE security, especially in relation to protesters’ health and safety. Indeed, UWE security facilitated traffic of drivers towards DPRTE at the detriment of the health and safety of protesters. More specifically, UWE security encouraged drivers to cross the gates near protesters even when or after they displayed careless or threatening driving towards protesters.
  • The direct involvement of UWE staff against the protests. Indeed, besides UWE security, Steve West, UWE VC was seen near the ECC intimidating protesters, including UWE students. Moreover, Annette Hennessy, UWE’s Head of Security, was seen taking pictures of protesters without their consent and without justification.
  • The policing of protests against DPRTE, most of which took place on university (private) land including the intimidation, repression, harassment and criminalisation of protesters by the police.
  • The role of PC Mark Brain (UWE’s community police officer) who was involved with policing this event.
  • The collaboration between the police and UWE, including the possible involvement of UWE staff in such criminalisation. In particular, on the one hand, UWE allowed one intelligence-gathering police team to gather video evidence on non-protesting students at the very heart of the University, far from any protest and after all protests had ceased[4] and, on the other hand, Annette Hennessy, UWE’s Head of Security, was seen gathering evidence about protesters without their consent. The review should determine what evidence was gathered by Annette Hennessy, whether that or any other evidence collected by UWE staff was shared with the police and, conversely, whether the police shared any evidence with UWE staff.
  • The behaviour of DPRTE participants and DPRTE organisers towards the protests and the protesters. In particular, one protester was assaulted by a DPRTE participant who caused him a bleeding injury. Moreover, DPRTE organisers silenced the issues by writing off the protests from their communications throughout the day and by claiming they were having a fantastic event.
  • The responsibilities of the WesternEye. In particular, on 20 November 2013, one of their journalists stated that “The Western Eye will be publishing a full review of the day’s events, from both inside and outside the ECC, later this week”. However, it failed to do so, contributing to the silencing of student activists.
  • UWESU’s responsibilities. In particular, UWESU ignored an urgent request to meet the five presidents in person to discuss breaches to our health and safety as well as to our democratic rights (emailed to all five presidents and discussed in person with Hannah Khan, VP Societies and Communication). Since then, UWESU has also systematically obstructed attempts to hold UWE and UWESU accountable for their actions on 20 November.
  • UWE’s democratic culture. In addition to the numerous issues previously briefly evoked, some protesters reported, and were witnessed, being bullied by fellow UWE students for participating to the 20 November protests.

Given UWE’s actions on the day and subsequently, particularly the direct involvement of UWE VC and UWE’s Head of Security against the protests, as well as UWE’s contempt for protesters’ security and democratic rights, students have no trust in UWE and call for this review to be fully independent from UWE. Given UWESU’s actions on the day, in particular the fact that UWESU presidents ignored an urgent request to meet in order to discuss the safeguarding of protesters’ security and democratic rights, as well as UWESU’s subsequent obstruction of efforts to hold UWE and UWESU accountable for their actions on 20 November 2013, participating students have no trust in UWESU and call for this review to be fully independent from UWESU. The independence of the review would then be guaranteed by a panel of experts from across a wide and adequate range of disciplines, selected from within and outside UWE, for their demonstrable commitment to:

  • the importance of intellectual pluralism within universities,
  • the role of universities in advancing progressive social change throughout history,
  • the democratic role of universities within contemporary societies.

We look forward to reading a clear answer to this demand for a transparent, comprehensive and independent review at your earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

UWE students

TO UWE STUDENTS: WONDERING WHAT WAS GOING ON ON CAMPUS TODAY?

PLEASE READ OUR BLOG (https://network23.org/uwe-struggles) AND SPREAD INFORMATION ABOUT IT AROUND YOU

WONDERING WHAT WAS GOING ON ON CAMPUS TODAY?

Today, UWE hosted a military business fair inside its conference centre, the ECC. This fair is an event for military and business worlds to meet. It happened on Frenchay campus and we think, first and foremost, that it should be a place of learning. The presence of companies infamously affiliated with, or active within, the arms trade (such as Thales and Raytheon) shows us that this was NOT, as we have been assured, a simple trade fair, but a meeting  between private businesses who are funding military operations all over the world, be it through industrial association or active involvement.

IMG_1114
Student banner at the entrance of UWE’s ECC on 20 Nov: ‘WAR is BUSINESS and RESEARCH’,  from CAAT Blog

This morning, we staged a peaceful protest outside the North and East entrances to Frenchay campus, as well as outside the main entrance to the ECC building to express our anger and disgust at what was, in effect, an event endorsing the expansion and technologies of the defense industry on a university campus.One protester was arrested and one of our friends, a UWE student, suffered a bleeding injury after being hit by a conference participant. UWE security and police prioritised the military business fair over our safety and freedom of expression. Many of us were recorded on video by special intelligence-gathering police and some were even harassed. Is this freedom of expression? Both UWE and UWESU were informed about attacks on our bodies, but they apparently had more important business to attend. This is the UWE student experience!

We are really shocked by what happened today and we need to get some rest. Beyond these scandalous attacks and threats, we shouldn’t also forget the issues that we attempted to air today. We denounce UWE’s irresponsible strategy of furthering a business agenda at the detriment of courses, students, staff, the quality of education, critically important research, and sustainability. With the hosting of this fair and, among other things, their approval of the tripling of tution fees two years ago, we consider that UWE management have demonstrated their priorities clearly: prioritise business of any kind even at the detriment of the physical integrity and the freedom of expression of a handful of students who did their utmost best to air very important points, despite systematic silencing,  hostility and even sometimes aggression.

For this reason, we need to stand up and speak out against the present and future involvement of our university with businesses and projects such as those present today. This is not just about one event, it is about maintaining the solidarity of students, staff and people all over the country and the world in the face of corporate greed.

WANT TO TAKE ACTION OR FIND OUT MORE?

PLEASE READ OUR BLOG (https://network23.org/uwe-struggles) AND SPREAD INFORMATION ABOUT IT AROUND YOU

Sign our petition on change.orghttp://qr.net/uweagainstmilitarybusiness

Email Us if you want to help! : uwe.better.together@gmail.com

Read our blog, share it, and link to it :network23.org/uwe-struggles

Facebook (No WMDs at UWE) and Twitter (@uwestruggles)

Email a personal or public message of solidarity

UWE allowed police and one intelligence-gathering ‘FIT’ team to intimidate, harass and gather video evidence on non-protesting students at the very heart of the University

Press release
For immediate release: 20 November 2013

UWE allowed police and one intelligence-gathering ‘FIT’ team to intimidate, harass and gather video evidence on non-protesting students at the very heart of the University

Email contact (please read our blog first and make specific points and requests): uwe [dot] better [dot] together [at] gmail [dot] com

UWE allowed police and one Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) into inside Core24, a university-run cafe, next to the library, at the very heart of the university’s main campus at Frenchay. Police interfered with the group who had been protesting as they were debriefing while having lunch, far away from the protest site. They were present in the cafe space throughout their lunch, a presence that the group considers as outrageous criminalisation and experienced as intimidating. FIT was seen shooting video inside Core24, who was then also filled with many people, including many UWE students and staff who had not been protesting, and who mostly seemed unaware that a military business fair was happening on campus.  After the group of protesters dispersed, one FIT team followed and harassed a small group of UWE student activists as they were trying to leave campus.

After peacefully protesting throughout the morning at the North Gate, the East Gate and in front of the Exhibition and Conference Centre (ECC) of the University’s main campus at Frenchay, protesters (including many current and former UWE students) gathered around lunch time in the area known as ‘Core24’, next to the library of UWE’s main campus at Frenchay.

While having lunch they discussed the events of the morning and addressed as a group one of UWESU’s elected officers.Even though both the University newspaper (http://www.westerneye.net/news/2013/11/students-stage-impeccable-protest/) and the police (http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Protest-arms-fair-conference-UWE-Bristol/story-20104800-detail/story.html^1) reported that protesters were peaceful, UWE allowed the police far away from the ECC and inside the very heart of the university. Police came to ask them to ‘discuss’ several times, interfering with the ongoing discussion and being present in the space at all times. One Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) was seen recording video footage of protesters and Core24, where many students and staff (most of whom seem not to even be aware that a military business event was taking place on campus) were having lunch.

Wikipedia describes FIT teams as follows: “Forward Intelligence Teams (FITs) are two or more police officers who are deployed by UK police forces to gather intelligence on the ground[1] and in some circumstances, to disrupt activists and deter anti-social behaviour”(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_Intelligence_Team).

One group of UWE students was then followed by the same FIT team. Those police constantly obstructed and questioned them whle recording videos as they were trying to leave Frenchay.  One UWE student who was part of the group followed by this FIT team and who is currently resting texted the following after it happened:  “FIT teams in core 24 as we were leaving filmed us and then followed us off campus, continually stopping us to question us. Massively intimidating and I felt really harassed”.

Despite some positive outcomes, including a massive traffic blockade caused by the police and UWE security, and a peaceful incursion into the military business fair, our protest was systematically silenced, some protesters (most of whom were current or former UWE students) were injured, concerns about the physical integrity of UWE students were ignored by both UWE and UWESU.  UWE students who staged this peaceful protest are appalled and overwhelmed by the  dimensions that this is taking. We have been collecting much evidence and collaborated with independent legal observers throughout the process. We intend to hold UWE, UWESU and the police accountable for their actions on campus today but we are exhausted and we need help!

We will probably be unable to provide any further updates in the near future. However, much more has to and will be said about what happened on campus today. We will try to provide updates as soon as possible. More comprehensive and evidenced reports about today will be reported on our blog (https://network23.org/uwe-struggles/). We are calling on individuals and organisations to support us to hold everyone accountable for what happened today on campus.  In the meantime, we encourage you to simply start by reading this blog, spread information about it, and then consider taking active forms of solidarity (see below for suggestions).

Notes:

^1 We complained to the Bristol Post that they misreported this event, not least because they described it as an ‘arms fair’ (it is a military business fair) and because they didn’t pay any attention to the argument collectively agreed by protesting UWE students (https://network23.org/uwe-struggles/2013/11/19/uwe-students-to-peacefully-disarm-military-business-fair-on-campus-through-party/). Journalists from the Bristol Post didn’t come on site and one ITV crew reported being sent back by UWE security on 19 November on grounds that UWE is private land. To our knowledge, the only journalists who were present were the University student newspaper, the WesternEye (http://www.westerneye.net), even though they also reported this as an ‘arms fair’ (http://www.westerneye.net/news/2013/11/uwe-hosts-arms-fair/).

How you can already support

  • Please help us to push this to the outside world as we currently have very limited capacity to do press work
  • You may send personal messages of solidarity to the protester who was arrested and UWE students who were/felt intimidated and/or harassed by FIT teams today by email. Please include ‘personal message of solidarity’ in the subject of your email.
  • You may send public messages of solidarity (most of whom were UWE students) and complaint to. Please include ‘public message of solidarity/complaint’ in the subject of your email.
  • You may send letters to complain about democracy at UWE to whoever you may see fit. Besides UWE’s VC and UWESU, we encourage you to contact MPs and influential people in Bristol committed to democratic values and with an understanding of the place of universities in democracy. Make sure to cc us to those emails.
  • We welcome offers of support from any individuals and groups to help us deal with the huge amount of work ahead of us. Please read our blog and twitter before making suggestions and email us with specific offers
  • We are particularly interested to build solidarity at university-level by working with UWE staff. We can set processes in place for organising confidentially if needed or preferred. Again, just email.
  • More comprehensive and detailed updates will be published on our blog (https://network23.org/uwe-struggles/) and twitter (https://twitter.com/uwestruggles)
  • If you haven’t already, please consider signing our petition (even though it now needs to be updated): https://www.change.org/petitions/calling-the-university-of-the-west-of-england-uwe-bristol-not-to-invest-itself-into-promote-support-or-enable-profit-making-from-of-through-wars-military-uses-of-research-military-networks-and-violent-approaches-towards-conflicts

UWE VC ignores UWE students’ safety concerns and denies request to have a citizens’ inspection (including UWE students) of military business fair; further questions to him

We received an email from UWE’s VC at 12:50 arguing mostly that this is not a university conference. We may publish this later once the UWE students’ activist press crew/process has discussed it with the broader process. For now, we send this reply (which will be emailed shortly).

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Dear Steve West,

So we know that you read our messages and that you forwarded our open letter to Keith Hicks, John Rushforth and Paul Gough.

We note that you did not address our concerns even about the safety of UWE students including a confirmed report of a UWE student who suffered a bleeding injury caused by a participant to the military business fair.

We also note that you deny members of the public, including UWE students, access to the ECC that is on University grounds.

If that is, as you claim, not a university conference, on what grounds did you approve this event?

What consideration did you give to the fact that it is a military business event?

How much income is made from this event and how will it be allocated (we want details)?

Yours sincerely,

UWE students

UWE struggles
https://network23.org/uwe-struggles/
https://twitter.com/uwestruggles