The protest met outside Mcdonalds in Leicester Square, before taking the road and marching towards Trafalgar Square. On leaving Leicester Square the police tried to force protesters off the road, but this attempt at physical intimidation was resisted. After terse negotiations the police agreed to let march walk down the road if it stopped at Trafalgar Square.
Quick witted protesters were already at the Southern point of the Square, and as the march arrived a group of wheelchair users headed out into the street and D-locked their wheelchairs blocking two roads at the busy junction.
Whilst flummoxed coppers started to get a bit physical, it was to no avail as people were able to dodge round them into the road to support the blockade. Traffic began to build up quickly behind both blockades although several drivers of the vehicles in the burgeoning traffic jam were supportive of the action being taken.
Both roads were closed for an hour until police once again resorted to physical force to open up one lane of traffic. This did little to ease the congestion which was now stretching out across London in all directions. Despite intermittent heavy rain the blockades remained in force for just over another hour before leaving to cheers celebrating a job well done.
The protest was called by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), with protesters travelling from across the UK to take part. The heroic Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign were out in force from as far away as Scotland whilst others had come from the Isle of Wight, Manchester, Brighton and Winchester. Other claimant groups including Boycott Workfare were also present in support of the action, along with other groups including UK Uncut and Right to Work, whilst drummers from samba band Rhythms of Resistance helped keep spirits high.
This is the second time this year that an action of this nature has gridlocked London’s busy West End and will not be the last. Disability and claimant groups are furious at the ongoing war on disabled people, in which benefits and care funding are being slashed, Remploy factories closed down and ever more humiliating tests being devised in an attempt to strip vital benefits from people who already often live in poverty.
A demonstration is being held outside Parliament this Friday 20th April in protest at the Remploy factory closures, whilst May Day has been declared a Day of Action Against the Government’s failing and exploitative workfare schemes.