Sunday 29 June: more updates, including more footage of the protest, police standing on tents and us arguing with police about press access added at the end of the post:
Saturday 28 June:
A lot more to video to come – here’s a starter.
Went with Disabled People Against Cuts to the blockade of Westminster Abbey today as severely disabled people continued ther fight to save the Independent Living Fund. The ILF is a fund that severely disabled people to pay for the extra carer hours they need to live independent lives. Iain Duncan Smith and Mike Penning, needless to say, plan to close the fund and leave these people in carehomes, or stuck at home with dangerously low levels of care. The court of appeal overturned a government ILF closure decision last year, but that’s not the sort of thing that puts Pennning off. The government announced this year that it would close the fund by 2015
Disabled people continue to fight for the ILF through the courts. Today, they attempted to take things to another level and set up a camp in the grounds of Westminster Abbey. The hope was that the church of England would see the point of this extremely serious and important protest, and help facilitate a protest camp and discussion. The lives of these disabled people will be threatened without that ILF money. It’s as simple as that.
Unfortunately, the church seemed to miss that point – perhaps in its rush to get the Met on the line. Christianity was in very short supply at the Abbey today. Police poured through the gates to stop the protest and to stamp on tents, to make sure they couldn’t be pitched. They were very heavy-handed all round and must easily have outnumbered protestors ten to one. Have a look at some of this.
Here’s a short clip of the police chasing one protestor across the grounds, then grabbing one young woman and cuffing her after shoving her against a tree. This was pretty brutal – you’ll see towards the end of the clip that they twist her arm right up behind her:
Here they are standing on a tent so that disabled people couldn’t pitch the tent in the Abbey grounds to make their protest:
This next photo shows disabled people grabbing onto each other when police rushed their line of wheelchairs. This was extraordinary – the police just raced at the line of wheelchairs:
another cop standing on a tent:
In this video, you’ll see some of the severely disabled people who had their wheelchairs chained together to protest at the ILF’s closure – and then a short clip of the sort of police numbers sent in to deal with them. Unreal:
And in this video, disabled protestors getting into the grounds through a smaller gate and chaining their wheelchairs together:
More to come tomorrow. As I say – this is a vital protest. Saving the ILF is not just about saving a pot of money. It’s about saving the idea that severely disabled people deserve to live – like everybody else. Pity the church doesn’t get that. At all. Today’s display was utterly shameful. Those behind it better start praying that there isn’t a god.
Updates 29 June 2014:
Here’s a video of a few of us arguing with police about press access for filming, and then more footage of police standing on tents and then again of their sheer numbers. I had the weirdest discussion with the clown you see at the start of this video. I wanted to walk through the police kettle to talk to disabled protestors on the other side of the police line and the railings, so I showed this copper my press pass. He said I couldn’t go through, because I was using my pass for “suspect” purposes and that if I was a journalist, I’d know what he meant. I am a journalist and I had absolutely no idea what he meant. I still have no idea. I can only assume that they didn’t want people who were inside the protest to have any sort of contact with people on the other side of the fence. He got out his little notebook and pen and told me to give him my name. I turned my pass around so he couldn’t see my name and told him to get lost. Jesus:
Another photo of disabled people being shoved into each other as police rush their line of wheelchairs:
More footage of protestors and of applause for their efforts when they were finally forced to leave the Abbey:
DPAC’s next action: Save the Independent Living Fund party this week on July 4. See you there.