By Alistair Farrow, Kingston Education Activist Network.
James Heslip is a Kingston University student studying Fine Art. In the 2010 student protests he was involved in breaking a window at 30 Millbank, which houses the headquarters of the Tory party. He was sentenced to a year in prison and, to make matters worse, the University has expelled him from his course.
The punishment James has received is completely out of proportion to the crime he committed. When members of this government got away with smashing up a restaurant as members of the Bullingdon Club (a real case of ‘mindless vandalism’) it was excused away as a case of ‘boys will be boys’; when protestors break a pane of glass it is treated as a threat to the government and no mercy is shown. Students showed the way to resist the cuts last year and without their actions we would not have seen the biggest strike in living memory on November 30th. Now it’s our turn to support those students who are being victimised as part of a government strategy to discourage others from resisting the cuts.
James needs all the help he can get and there are a number of ways we can show our support. Firstly, sign the petition demanding the University reinstate him. Secondly, write a letter to the Vice Chancellor (who has the final say in the mater) demanding his reinstatement. Lastly, if you have a message of support for James, email it to email@example.com and it will get forwarded to him in prison.
James has been drawing during his time in prison and you can see his art here.