Riot police have forcibly removed a group of protesting students from the University of Sydney library during an event attended by the federal education minister Simon Birmingham on Wednesday night.
In a video posted , police can be seen pulling students to their feet and pushing them through the open glass doorways of the Fisher Library.
The group of about 30 students were protesting against the coalition’s proposal to deregulate university fees as Mr Birmingham adjudicated a round of the Sydney University’s Liberal Club’s John Howard Debating Cup.
It is understood the vision of the police clashing with protesters was shot before Birmingham had arrived.
According to Honi Soit, the group had been chanting and making speeches for roughly 15 minutes before the police formed a barricade around the group and removed them.
“People were nearly trampled. Students were heavily traumatised by the police action,” organiser of the protest and SRC Education officer Liam Carrigan
“We were peacefully standing outside the venue when police came and violently pushed everyone out of the building, viciously assaulting an Aboriginal woman in the process,” April Holcombe, SRC Welfare Officer, told Honi Soit.
SRC General Secretary Georgia Mantle said “[the police officers] put me in a wristlock and pulled my hair and lifted me up by the ankles”.
During the scuffle, the security door to the library was badly damaged, the paper reported.
The police had arrived earlier in the afternoon ahead of the event.
The protesters chanted “Simon Birmingham get out, we know what you’re all about: Cuts, job losses, money for the bosses”.
“We’re education activists and we’re here because there’s a Liberal education minister in this building and he has the gall to step into this university when he wants to deregulate university fees,” one female protester can be heard saying over a megaphone.
A spokesperson for the minister said Birmingham did not see or interact with any protesters while he was at the university on Wednesday night.
SRC councillor and young Liberal member David Hogan that the protesters had let the university down.
“I wanted to attend the debate … but [the protesters] are having no part of it. All the normal students have been displaced by this extremist activism,” he said.
In February 2015 a protest at the university turned violent when police used pepper spray to subdue 40 students opposing then Education minister Christopher Pyne’s education reforms.
After a visit to the university in 2014 that sparked a similar clash between students and police, Pyne accused protesters of assaulting Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
“They assaulted the Foreign Minister, they jostled her, they abused her, they touched her person, they behaved in a most unacceptable fashion.”
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