Edinburgh students counter Police repression — Solidarity with Palestine is not a crime!

— Revolutionary Students Edinburgh

Today the power of mass action prevented the detention of a pro-Palestine activist in Edinburgh.

A student activist at the University of Edinburgh was arrested by Police Scotland after a walkout and a march in solidarity with Palestine took place on the university campus. In response students and workers blocked the police van from moving, and demanded his release. 

Students from the university of Edinburgh had gathered in a large demonstration, asserting the real position of the mass of students, on the Israeli state’s violence and the role played by our government and our university.

Just an hour before the arrest, our comrade was speaking about the clamp down on freedom of expression the state and the media are carrying out and inciting. Including the shameful refusal of the student association (EUSA) to even debate our motion to declare solidarity with Palestine at the next student council meeting.

Palestine protesters block the police from whisking away an innocent student

When an onlooker called the police, they were quick to respond with a small fleet of vans. They immediately arrested one protester on trumped-up vandalism charges. After his initial arrest at 13.30, hundreds of students, including our comrades, surrounded the police and the van he was being held in, shouting “let him go” and “shame on you”, refusing to leave until he was released. 

All the while, students were coming out of their classes and heeding the calls from social media to join the protest and defend their classmate and comrade. The crowd appealed to the police, asking them to stand on the right side of history, and that solidarity with Palestine is not an offence!

During the walkout and protest, radical chants were being shouted: “From Scotland to Gaza, come on the Intifada!” and exposing the role of the UK government  in supporting Israeli occupation and war crimes.

Two hours later, the police assured lawyer Aamer Anwar that they would let him go after they took him to the station. However, the crowd responded by marching to ensure the promise was upheld.  As we marched through the streets to the police station, it was clear whose side the other workers and students were on: many people joined the march, and still more sounded car horns in support. 

The crowd gathered outside the St Leonards Street Police station

Whilst gathered outside the station the mass of students, and other supporters gathered on the march, became increasingly impatient with the police. With chants of “who do you protect, who do you serve” echoing through the crowd, it was clear they knew the state’s armed body of men was not on their side. The protesters kept the pressure on the police, reminding them of their promise to let their comrade go, with calls to “release him now!”

After an hour of waiting, the comrade was finally released, amongst cheers from the crowd. The mood was electrifying, with students realising their power as a mass and understanding they have nothing to be scared of as long as they stand together. It wasn’t the benevolence of the police or the efforts of lawyers that wielded this victory, but the power of mass solidarity in the face of the institutions of bourgeois law.