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Tasers, CS gas and screams: how West Midlands Police evicted students from a building on their own campus

Police and security guards at Warwick University have been filmed breaking up a student occupation today with tasers and significant force.

 

Footage has emerged this evening of a student protest being broken up by police and security guards at Warwick university. The officers threatened students with a drawn taser, and witnesses on the scene say that they were sprayed with CS gas. The protest took place as part of a day of action across the UK called by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.

Dan, a student at the demonstration, said that around 50 students held a rally on the university campus, before proceeding to occupy the reception area of a university building. He claims that the students were sitting peacefully in a circle before police officers and security guards arrived - after which, the footage shows what took place. It's worth watching the video closely.

- 12 seconds in, an officer appears to grab at a woman who is holding a mobile phone. It's not clear whether or not she was filming him with it.

- 14 seconds in, the same officer appears to lunge with his fist at a student in a bobble hat.

- 23 seconds in, the same officer pulls what looks like a can of CS gas out, and holds it towards the face of the same student in the bobble hat. The students say that at this point, the man in the bobble hat was sprayed in face with the CS gas. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) guidance on the use of CS gas states that "The spray should not be used at a distance of less than 1 metre unless the nature of the risk to the officer is such that this cannot be avoided". It isn't clear from the footage whether this guidance was kept to. The students claim that, over the course of the operation, another two of them were sprayed.

- 29 seconds in, you can hear the clicks of a drawn taser.

The ACPO guidance also states that after someone has been sprayed with CS gas, they ought to recieve "after care". Students claim this never happened.

West Midlands Police offered the following statement:

"Police were called to reports of an assault at the University of Warwick Central Campus in Coventry this afternoon.

"Officers arrived at Senate House at 4.50pm to find a group of around 25 students protesting about fees and a staff member reported that he had been assaulted by one of the group.

"Three people were arrested from the site, one on suspicion of assault and two others on suspicion of obstructing police.

"Police officers and security staff from the university worked together to ensure everyone was safe. The protest continues and officers remain at the scene to ensure there is no further breach of the peace.

"Tasers were drawn to calm the situation, but was not used."

They said that they didn't yet have any comment on the allegations around the use of CS gas. I'll update you as soon as they do.

The students involved deny that any of them assaulted anyone, and will be holding a "cops off campus" demo tomorrow.

**update 1** the longer version of the video this refers to has now been taken down for some reason. What's now shown above is a shorter version, from a slightly different angle, which doesn't have the sound of the taser and in which it's harder to see the police officer lunge at the student with his fist.**

**update 2** photos have now emerged of at least two of the students who appear to have been sprayed. First, judging by the shirt, what appears to be the person from the above footage

and a second student


About the author

Adam Ramsay is the Co-Editor of openDemocracyUK and also works with Bright Green. Before, he was a full time campaigner with People & Planet. You can follow him at @adamramsay.


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