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Before this I wasn’t particularly politically aware, as I never felt the need to be. However, when the cuts were announced I felt as if they were a personal attack on me. Through necessity I started reading up on the situation.
I saw this as a brilliant opportunity to show the world that the youth of today are aware and active people who understand what they stand for – and are willing to fight for it.
We felt as if it was something we had to resort to. The government were not listening to us when we wrote letters to MPs. And when we marched in large numbers, the media were only focusing on the criminal damage and violence.
We felt it was time to take nonviolent action that could not be distorted and warped by the press to portray us as yobs. We tried to make it absolutely clear when talking to the school and journalists that this was not an attack on the school, but on the cuts.
Initially me and my friend Tascha approached people in our year and the year above who we felt would be passionate about doing this and could be relied upon.
This group met every day, at lunch breaks and after school, to discuss ideas and plan.
We used consensus decision-making, so that every fault would be picked up.
We visited the UCL university occupation many times to get tips on how to make our occupations successful – they even had a ‘So you want to set up a occupation?’ meeting for us, and they also provided us with useful legal advice on occupations.
We had to be very careful with getting the word around without the school finding out, so we decided word of mouth would be the safest way to do it.
Probably about 80 of us stayed overnight. Our numbers were greater at the beginning, about 130, but many went out to buy food and came back to find the gate locked – though quite a few managed to climb back in over the fence.
At least half of the students in the sixth form receive EMA, and really rely on it to pay for books, travel and school trips. It is vital for those from less wealthy backgrounds – it helps with all the basic necessities.
How did your school react to the occupation?
At first the reaction was negative, as they were concerned with our safety overnight and how it would affect the school’s image. Threats were made, and they did contact some parents saying that the police would be called.
But we had an emergency meeting and we concluded that we would stand our ground and would not move until the 24 hours were over.
You might think that you’re only a kid and nobody will listen to what you say, but if enough of you shout loud enough for long enough, they won’t be able to ignore you.
Take the initiative, and go to your local anti‑cuts meeting – they can give you advice on how to protest, and will support you with whatever you choose to do.
I still haven’t given up hope. Even though the vote passed, the protests against the poll tax in the 1980s are my inspiration. After the holiday, thousands are going to come back and protest on the streets of London again against the cuts.
It has to be made clear that no action taken against us, be it kettling or police brutality, will stop us reaching our goal.
Nick Dowson looks at the new wave of co-ops and community groups where people are building their own truly affordable homes
Hsiao-Hung Pai meets people affected by the fire, and finds sadness and suffering mixed with a continuing wariness of the official investigations
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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to witness devastating political violence, but the world refuses to act. Ishiaba Kasonga and Serge Egola Angbakodolo ask why?
When fire safety has become a privilege for the rich, it’s time to stop austerity and fund emergency mass works to raise standards immediately, writes Jane Shallice
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Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs
Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox
Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole
Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part
Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper
Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s
Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach
Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.
Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite
Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead
Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee
Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power
The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced
India: Modi’s ‘development model’ is built on violence and theft from the poorest
Development in India is at the expense of minorities and the poor, writes Gargi Battacharya
North Korea is just the start of potentially deadly tensions between the US and China
US-China relations have taken on a disturbing new dimension under Donald Trump, writes Dorothy Guerrero
The feminist army leading the fight against ISIS
Dilar Dirik salutes militant women-organised democracy in action in Rojava
France: The colonial republic
The roots of France’s ascendant racism lie as deep as the origins of the French republic itself, argues Yasser Louati
This is why it’s an important time to support Caroline Lucas
A vital voice of dissent in Parliament: Caroline Lucas explains why she is asking for your help
PLP committee elections: it seems like most Labour backbenchers still haven’t learned their lesson
Corbyn is riding high in the polls - so he can face down the secret malcontents among Labour MPs, writes Michael Calderbank
Going from a top BBC job to Tory spin chief should be banned – it’s that simple
This revolving door between the 'impartial' broadcaster and the Conservatives stinks, writes Louis Mendee – we need a different media
I read Gavin Barwell’s ‘marginal seat’ book and it was incredibly awkward
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We can defeat this weak Tory government on the pay cap
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Corbyn supporters surge in Labour’s internal elections
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Undercover policing – the need for a public inquiry for Scotland
Tilly Gifford, who exposed police efforts to recruit her as a paid informer, calls for the inquiry into undercover policing to extend to Scotland
Becoming a better ally: how to understand intersectionality
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The myth of the ‘white working class’ stops us seeing the working class as it really is
The right imagines a socially conservative working class while the left pines for the days of mass workplaces. Neither represent today's reality, argues Gargi Bhattacharyya
The government played the public for fools, and lost
The High Court has ruled that the government cannot veto local council investment decisions. This is a victory for local democracy and the BDS movement, and shows what can happen when we stand together, writes War on Want’s Ross Hemingway.
An ‘obscure’ party? I’m amazed at how little people in Britain know about the DUP
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