“Does the Queen pay £9250 a year?”: Students protest royal visit security bans

On Wednesday, 20 March, King’s College London students organised to protest the alleged security bans in light of the Queen’s recent visit on campus. The official anthem of the event was “KCL you’re no good, treat your students like you should”.

On Tuesday several Kings College London students were blocked from entering University buildings during a royal visit from the Queen and the Duchess of Cambridge for the official opening of Bush House. The University stated that the event demanded the highest level of security possible, resulting in minimising movement through the buildings for “security reasons.”

A minimum of ten politically active KCL students, who were predominantly women of colour, were blocked from entering University buildings on the day of the royal visit.

A member of academic staff who was blocked from entering the University on Tuesday spoke to Roar exclusively of their experience: “When I went to reception, they asked me to leave the building because my access had been blocked until 2:30pm due to a risk assessment.

“I asked if I could speak to someone because I couldn’t understand why, and the receptionist repeatedly just told me to leave and come back after 2:30pm,” they said. 

The King’s academic then attempted to enter the library, only to find their card had been deactivated. It was then that I spoke to a few friends whose cards had also not worked and that’s when we realised that we had been banned from every campus space.

“I was upset and angry that I had been forced to not attend my shift, which as a working class student puts me in a vulnerable position.”

Yesterday, a rally organised by KCL activist groups Justice4Cleaners and Action for Palestine was staged outside of Strand campus in protest of Tuesday’s events.

A crowd of students, staff and members of the public gathered in support of the students who were blocked from entering.

An official statement by the groups staging the rally read:

“The racialised and gendered securitisation of campus also cannot be ignored; the affected students are predominantly women of colour. King’s College London is progressive only in the pages of its marketing brochures; in reality, it perpetuates the same militarisation, racism and sexism that the society of the police and the monarchy uphold.”

The ‘Justice4Cleaners’ Facebook page also alleged KCL security suggested to students that they were advised by the Metropolitan Police to instigate the ban on all students that could be considered a security threat.

Protesters held flares and banners reading “Does the Queen pay £9250 a year?”, whilst around 40 students and staff joined in a chorus of “KCL you’re no good, treat your students like you should”.

Approached by Roar, one student participating in the rally expressed anger towards King’s handling of the situation: “This was an abhorrent violation of Free Speech, and a targeted discrimination against politically left activists, the majority of whom were women of colour.

“This was an affront to any notion of ‘family’ or inclusion Kings claims to function under, and a disgraceful display of unwelcome to minority students in the wake of recent tragedies and hostile political climate.

“The Demo today was to show that they cannot silence students like this, and to demand a full apology from Kings to all students affected among other requests Kings should fulfil if they are truly the welcoming community they claim to be.”

During the protest one of the speakers stated “The University has used CCTV to identify us & they’ve been monitoring and profiling students for their political beliefs”, adding that they had been “deemed a security threat” despite “only ever protesting peacefully”.

King’s College London has not responded to a request for comment.

Reporting by Jared Phanco and Amelia Costigan

Photo credits: Jared Phanco

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