Student protests in London erupted today after Parliament voted to triple university tuition as part of a national austerity plan. Naturally, as in other countries, the working classes will be carrying the brunt of the "austerity" in lieu of the bankers who actually caused the mess, but that's only fair, right?
As thousands of students were corralled by police near Parliament, some strummed guitars and sang Beatles songs — but others hurled chunks of paving stones at police and smashed windows in a government building.
Another group ran riot through the busy shopping streets of London's West End, smashing store windows and setting fire to a giant Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square.
Police condemned the "wanton vandalism." They said 43 protesters and 12 officers had been injured, while 22 people were arrested. Police said the number of arrests would likely rise.
Home Secretary Theresa May said that "what we are seeing in London tonight, the wanton vandalism, smashing of windows, has nothing to do with peaceful protest."
The violence overshadowed the tuition vote, a crucial test for governing Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, and for the government's austerity plans to reduce Britain's budget deficit.
It was approved 323-302 in the House of Commons, a close vote given the government's 84-seat majority.
Many in the thousands-strong crowd outside booed and chanted "shame" when they heard the result of the vote, and pressed against metal barriers and lines of riot police penning them in.
Earlier small groups of protesters threw flares, billiard balls and paint bombs, and officers, some on horses, rushed to reinforce the security cordon.
Clearly, there's only so much people are going to take. Do you get the feeling that it's spreading? I do. Because I don't think I've ever heard of anything like this before:
A car containing Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, was attacked last night as a wave of protest swept through central London in the wake of a Commons vote to force through a trebling of university tuition fees for students in England.
Protesters cracked windows and threw paint on the Rolls-Royce after it became separated from its police escort and was surrounded by demonstrators who had spilled into the West End after an initially peaceful demonstration outside parliament rapidly deteriorated and spread.
One, Ben Kelsey, said: "There were 400 to 500 protesters there. It was fairly obvious who was in the car. It was very well lit up. Charles and Camilla looked quite relaxed at first but when they saw how many people there were they began to get worried. A few seconds later the area was packed with police. It was complete chaos."
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