The Head and Dean of the University of Sydney’s law school, Professor Simon Bronitt, has come out swinging against the way NSW Police used force to break up Wednesday’s student protest against cuts to education.

Students told PEDESTRIAN.TV they were tripped and dragged by police, and footage even showed one student being thrown into the gutter. Law Professor Simon Rice was also pushed to the ground by officers while observing the protest.

“Like many students and staff, I was shocked by the events that occurred on campus yesterday,” Bronitt said in a statement.

“The arrest, force, detention and issuing of the infringement notice hardly settles the matter.

“I am confident that Professor Rice and the students affected will not lack for support from colleagues within the School, SULS and the wider legal/social justice community.”

During and after the peaceful protest, NSW Police issued 14 Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs), which are $1,000 each.

“But these ‘fines’, which may be contested, will take many months to reach the courts,” Bronitt added.

Student are currently fundraising to pay off the PINs, as they have done for previous protests this year.

NSW Police claims students tried to “disrupt traffic”, however students told P.TV on Wednesday that they were simply trying to cross the road.

Footage shared by campus newspaper Honi Soit also shows students sprinting down Eastern Ave and Victoria Park to avoid being dispersed by riot police, some of whom were on horseback.

“Foremost, my immediate concern is for the welfare of our staff and students who are, or may be in the future, on the receiving end of a ‘hard’ style of public order policing in which demonstrators are funnelled and contained (some may say ‘kettled’), and then subjected to strategic arrests and interventions,” Bronitt continued.

“From past experience, these controversial policing practices only serve to escalate tensions and violence in the management of otherwise peaceful demonstrations.”

At the Parramatta Rd entrance, police also encircled protesters and appeared to push several of them to the ground.

Bronitt added that it’s up to the courts to decide whether or not a protest is lawful, and that police overstepped the line by breaking up the students’ peaceful demonstration against the government’s cuts.

“To restrain any planned demonstrations within a lawful framework, it must be incumbent on the NSW Police or indeed the Attorney General to seek an injunction to prevent them proceeding,” he said.

“It is before the courts where the legal validity and proportionality of the public health constraints and reasonableness of planned police responses can be assessed.”

Image: Jazzlyn Breen