Ed, who preferred not to give his full name, studied mechanics at King’s College London and is now working as a waiter during a gap year. We reached him on his cell phone just as he was leaving the Conservative HQ at 30 Millbank, where protests turned violent.
There was a huge crowd in front of the headquarters when I got there, and I was literally pushed into the building when the windows were smashed open.
What happened was, some people managed to force their way into a side entrance, and began smashing things in the reception area. Police tried to stop them, but then they were overwhelmed by the sheer size of the crowd, and more people got in. Afterwards things went crazy, the main entrance was opened from inside, people were streaming in. Someone smashed a plasma TV hanging on a wall, others were drawing graffiti. I went up to the roof, there was a great view of the protest from up there. I saw two bonfires burning in the courtyard of the building, apparently people were burning posters.
The atmosphere was chaotic, but not really violent. Most people were just having fun, running around the building but not vandalising. I did see police get rough at two points: once at the beginning, when they were trying to stop people coming in, they hit several protesters with batons. Then when reinforcements arrived and they raided the building and were very aggressively throwing people out.
I think the vandalism was justified by the fact that the Conservatives ruling our country are vandalising our public services! The people protesting were students or other people who care a lot about education in this country, and who don’t think that just waving a banner or two outside Parliament is enough to protest. Direct action is needed against the criminals in our government who think nothing of spending billions on endless wars then say there’s not enough money left to pay for schools! The damage that was done today is nowhere near the damage this government is getting ready to do to our country.”
Protesters smashing the entrance-level windows of the Millbanks building, which houses the Conservative Party headquarters. Originally posted on Flickr by Asif Khan.