Earlier today large numbers of peaceful activists from DPAC, UKUNCUT and many other protest groups gathered outside the ATOS head office to raise awareness of the hypocrisy of ATOS sponsorship of the Paralympics at the same time as destroying disabled people’s lives.
After about 2 hours a small group of disabled activists and allies moved to blockade DWP office and demand to speak to Ian Duncan Smith and minister for disabled people Maria Miller. Although they occupied the building’s reception area and blockaded the doors these activists were also entirely peaceful and non-threatening
However as usual when the police do not know what to do or how best to respond the Territorial Support Group was sent in mob handed. Officers from TSG were seen psyching themselves up for trouble and although they were informed on several occasions that there were several disabled people in the crowd they approached the building and the protesters in an entirely inappropriate manner rushing forward and pushing other protesters onto the row of wheelchair users. One was tipped out of their wheelchair, another was hospitalised with a fractured shoulder and one was arrested.
The person arrested is at Charing Cross Police Station and we are waiting for news, the others have been treated in hospital. It is sad that after so many protests where the police have behaved so responsibly that they have – when the eyes of the world are on the UK and its disabled athletes – sunk so low as to treat disabled protesters in this way.
Although this was a very unsatisfactory response from the TSG it will not stop us protesting for our rights and our lives in the future.