Watch police pepper spray Warwick University protesters

Tuition fees activists say that officers pulled tasers out during a peaceful sit-in and CS sprayed students

One of the most enduring images of the 2011 Occupy protests was this video of a university police officer casually pepper spraying non-violent protesters at UC Davis. Now University of Warwick students say that the exact same thing has happened on their campus. And oh yeah – there's video, too.

On Wednesday night, 25 students from the Warwick for Free Education group staged a sit-in to protest tuition fees at the university Senate House, part of a day of action on campuses across the UK. They say that the protest was peaceful and that they did not stop people from entering or leaving the building. Then three police vehicles showed up, with officers armed with tasers and CS spray. 

At 0:17 in the video (above), an officer is seen pushing a student in a knitted hat back and then pepper spraying him straight in his face. You can see him clutching a small can of CS spray in his left hand as other protesters recoil from him. 

The National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts (NCAFC), which coordinated the protests, said that most people in the room were affected by the spray, with one protester needing to go to A&E to seek treatment.

"They weren't disrupting anybody," spokesperson Hattie Craig told us. "One minute security were standing around the people sitting in the foyer very calmly, and the next minute there were police and people were being dragged to the floor."

This is the same student shortly after being pepper sprayed:

You can also hear the crackle of a taser being drawn in the video, although West Midlands Police said it was not deployed during the protest. It also said that three students were arrested. 

"This is the first time that we've seen pepper spray being used against protests in this generation of students," Craig said. "Everyone says this is unprecedented; we've very worried that this is an escalation and cracking down on people's rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of protest."

Warwick University released a statement today saying that the police were called in response to "an unprovoked act of violence" on the university's security staff during the protest, which the NCAFC disputes.

"There's been video evidence of the whole thing and in none of that is there any footage of anyone assaulting a security guard," Craig said.

"You see time and time again that universities are reacting more heavily. Police have now started violently evicting students from demonstrations and this is further escalation."

So, how safe do you feel on your campus?