Disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters brought chaos to central London yesterday at a lively and angry demonstration against George Osborne’s budget.
Whilst inside the House of Commons the Chancellor was slashing sickness and disability benefits by almost a third for many new claimants, outside disabled people repeatedly outwitted a heavy police presence to bring traffic to a standstill in the capital.
The day began in Whitehall where the protest spilled across the street and the Downing Street gates were pelted with balls. Demonstrators then moved down to Westminster Bridge as a huge banner was unfurled opposite parliament reading #Balls2TheBudget. Eventually the banner was brought onto the bridge which remained blockaded for over an hour. The protest received a a huge amount of support from several waiting bus drivers, as well as fire and ambulance crews who were allowed to pass quickly through the blockade.
Demonstrators then moved onto Parliement Square where mounted police were stationed in anticipation. This didn’t deter the protesters and at one point the banner was stretched across two roads effectively shutting down the movement of traffic in all directions.
Police eventually moved in and began violently shoving disabled people out of the road and seizing the banner, to the horror of many passing tourists. Four people were arrested, including one wheelchair user, who was surrounded by dozens of police after being carried off the road and forced to wait for almost an hour whilst bungling coppers tried to work out how to arrest someone in a wheelchair.
One person who didn’t support the protesters was Labour MP, Sadiq Khan who slithered through the crowd whilst all this was taking place. Khan, who has wild fantasies about becoming London Mayor, was asked to support the arrested disabled protester as concerns grew over the handling of the situation by the police. At the very least you might have expected a Labour politician to check he was okay, or offer a message of support to the demonstration. The sad truth is he couldn’t give a fuck and scurried away as quickly as possible. Remember that London, when Khan had a chance to show support for disabled people, acting on behalf of the capital’s poorest residents, he turned his back and fled. The coward is on twitter @SadiqKhan.
Despite the arrests the day was a huge success. It is rare that a protest called in the morning achieves such a boisterous and defiant crowd. Something is stirring, throughout the UK, and two demonstrations later in the day – in support of the sacked Sothebys workers, and a ‘die in’ at Parliament Square – were both well attended.
The protest was called by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and supported by Class War, Streets Kitchen, Black Dissidents, London Latinxs, Columbian Women in Action, Occupy,Brick Lane Debates, Winvisible, London Black Revs, Reclaim Hackney, Camden Resists, Never Again Ever and many more.
For a round up including pics and video from the day visit DPAC’s website.
Protests continue over the weekend in the capital with a demonstration in support of the outsourced university workers due to be held today (Friday 9th July) at 1.30pm outside the Royal College of Music.
Then on Saturday the long awaited second Fuck Parade is set to take Camden by storm from 7pm on Saturday night. Get there early to catch a specially planned warm up event and share the fuck out of the facebook page.
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