At lunchtime disabled protesters and supporters began to gather outside four government building, all of which are culpable for creating the vicious regime that currently exists for disabled people. Crowds of people met outside the departments of Health, Education, Transport and Climate Change to protest against soaring heating bills, increased segregation in education, inaccessible and unaffordable public transport and cuts to social care budgets and healthcare.
At the Department of Education several people briefly blocked the door as a request was made for people to be allowed entry, or for a Minister to come and address the protest which focused on the increasing segregation of disabled children in foundation schools in particular. Shamefully not one person from the Department of Education could be bothered to come to the front door, although after a tense stand off three people were allowed inside to deliver a list of demands.
Then the protest moved off to the DWP, where all four groups converged resulting in a large crowd of up to 200 people outside the home of Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal and bungled welfare reforms. Speakers from Inclusion, DPAC, Winvisible, Black Triangle, UK Uncut, the TUC and many more addressed the crowd whilst a washing line was tied to the lamp-posts and festooned with underpants for Iain Duncan Smith to help him cut down this year’s expenses claim. Other groups present included transport union TSSA, Mad Pride, #wowpetition, Transport for All and many local DPAC and other disabled people’s groups.
This protest was almost a year to the day that DPAC, UK Uncut and Anti-Atos protesters occupied and shut down the DWP building for an afternoon. This year the DWP were taking no chances with a heavy security presence closing down the front of the building and staff being ushered in and out by the back door.
Finally the protest moved to Parliament for a mass lobby, with a packed meeting expected to launch the DPAC Disabled Persons Manifesto.
This was the final day of DPAC’s week of action, which had previously seen the BBC blockaded in response to their disgraceful portrayal of disabled people and slavish support of Iain Duncan Smith’s endless lies about benefit claimants. The BBC chose not to cover that protest and so far has also ignored today’s events, preferring instead to give air time to the extremist Tax Payer’s Alliance call for mass workfare for everyone unemployed or on sickness or disability benefits.
There is a long way to go in the struggle against welfare reforms, inclusion and access for all disabled people, and the saving of the welfare state. But today was the largest central London protest in a long time by disabled activists and the call for further action, but within and outside of the law, was unanimous amongst those present. They will fight us every step of the way, but we can take back this country and reclaim the futures of everybody who has had their lives destroyed by this Government.
For the latest news and details of actions from DPAC visit their website at: http://dpac.uk.net/
Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid