Of course, the media portrayal has mostly been of the tiny number of students who committed acts of damage to property, especially that police van. What most of the mainstream media isn't reporting (in fact I think only The Guardian has) is the number of protesters who tried to protect the van. In this video you can see some of them, and there's this iconic image from The Guardian:
At one point the BBC reporter in the Commons explained why politicians and the media are so keen to report on the poorly behaved few rather than the well behaved majority. He was reporting to the camera what a politician had told him (but I'm afraid I didn't catch who, the trouble with live TV). I'm paraphrasing him, but not much (and only because I didn't get to write/type down his exact words):
If the protests get violent the public will lose sympathy with the protesters and support our plans for higher fees.
On one hand on our TV screens we're seeing looped footage of a few protesters smashing up an unoccupied police van (which some speculate was put there as bait) in the hope that it'll make the majority think "hmm, fees are good! Let's teach these brutal young things a lesson!" On the other hand what we're not seeing is the brutality from the other side.
Thanks to camera phones and the internet incidents of police brutality are harder to hide. And yesterday saw some unforgivable behaviour. Throughout the day there were many tweets being rapidly retweeted with content along the lines of "Officer abc123 kicked a 15 year old girl."
Some actual examples:
- Cambridge student demo: policeman punched student in the face
- Police violence at Student Protest London 24 November
- Laurie Penny on the children trapped inside the Whitehall kettle until late at night when the temperature had dropped to freezing
1 The Disability Discrimination Act was written while I was in my first year of sixth form. However it didn't come into effect until years later.