Launching off the back of a Carnival ‘Against Cuts’, and anticipating UCU industrial action which was scheduled to start within weeks, the catastrophically short March 3rd occupation of Sussex House – the historically frequently–occupied administrative centre of the university- was a crucial turning-point in the campaign’s fortunes.
In short, the occupation was suppressed within hours by Sussex Police in collusion with John Duffy, who had locked himself in his office and refused to leave, claiming to police to be ‘held hostage’. The police commander on site chose to believe this claim and demanded that the occupation be unwound so that his officers could escort Duffy out of the building. Meanwhile outside a large crowd was gathering in support of the occupiers, and scuffles began to break out with the police line deployed there. Meanwhile inside John Duffy was giving perjurious witness to the university’s lawyers in London as part of an application for an injunction against occupations on University ground.
The suspension of six students, coupled with the unprecedented police intervention on campus, led to an enormous (700-person?) demonstration on March 11th, at which faculty spoke along with students, before an abortive re-occupation of Bramber house flooded instead into A2, opening the most optimistic and lovely few weeks of that year.