For the first two hours the kettled protest was actually fun. Being mainly a youth demonstration it turned into something more like a festival with people lighting bonfires for warmth (not violence) and doing the ‘hockey kockey’.
However after three or four hours of being stuck there, when it started to become increasingly dark and cold people tried to get out. We heard a rumour that we would be let out in half an hour so we started to queue by the nearest exit. But half an hour later when there had been no progress we asked a police officer what was going on. We were told that there had been some changes and that if we went to the other exit children still in full time education were being allowed to go home. We went to the other exit where hundreds of 14 and 15 year-old like myself were being pushed together and onto a collapsed gate in road. However, the policeman here said he had heard no information about the release of school children and so our exit was blocked once more.
After a few more minutes new information was released to us by the police stating that children in school uniform would be let out. “What?!” we protested, outraged by this as our school does not have a uniform. We took out our school planners and ID which proved that we were still in full time education but the policeman didn’t care. There was then another change and the gates were closed to even those with uniform. Apparently a sit down demonstration had convened near by in protest of us being kettled at Whitehall. Ironically, fearing that the demonstrators from our walk out demo would join the new protest this caused the police to keep us for longer.
I am not angry at the individual policemen and women; some of them were very kind to us. I am angry at the mentality of the authorities which ruined a peaceful protest of young people and, in my view, was the main cause of the violence. Eventually at six o’clock, after being kettled for five hours, me and my friends were among some of the first demonstrators to be released. One girl my age was not let out until 11. This experience has made me even more keen to join Liberty.
Liberty are looking for more first hand accounts from young people who were 'kettled' at recent protests. Please contact us to share your experience.
Find out more about kettling and protest.