Atos Origin and Triton Sq:we were kettled

January 24, 2011

Today in London, some of us did our first direct action and – I challenged the police for the first time in my life. Not before I got stuck on a bus because the ramp was broken – how many protestors would have that problem???

Some of us met up at a cafe before the demo. There were quite a few people already gathered at Triton Sq – disabled and non disabled people and we started marching towards Atos Origin but they had locked up before we got there and we did not manage to get in. There was a little scuffle with an older man being knocked on the ground.

We gathered outside and chanted and Claire started speeches with a rousing speech reminding the police there were disabled people there with visible and invisible impairments.

People kept arriving.

I recognised people from previous demos but also supporters from PCS and Women against Cuts, Islington Disabled People Against Cuts, MadPride and many others. Journalists such as John Pring but no cameras – we are not as interesting as say – women protest at Scotland Yard over the use of under cover police who infiltrate protest movements to gather intelligence.

Anyway, I noticed that there were barriers being put up around us and I placed myself there – a policeman asked me to move so that they can continue the barriers. I refused I said I wanted to be there because I would not be able to take photos if the barriers were there because – being in a wheelchair, I need a certain distance and the barriers/barricades cut into my vision. I need to be able to weave in and out and I could not with the barriers there. He replied that he had to lock the barriers in place – I asked for the reason – he said it was his job to do it and they had to lock but he would be willing to compromise by leaving a gap at the end so that one can move in and out of the blocked off area. The reason why I placed myself there was because I wanted to make sure we were not locked in – so I moved.

 

Barricaded

But then they barricaded the whole area anyway and there were a few tense moments when some heated words were exchanged with the police but the police would not let them out en masse. A policewoman said we would be allowed to come in and out but singly. So I would say it was a kind of containment.

It was a nice friendly atmosphere on the whole, Penny read a couple of her poems, somebody else sang, we had people bring us nice hot rice and sausages and doughnuts and for some reason, there was also a mini bazaar.

At the end, it was decided that we would go to another Atos site at the back of Marylebone. It was a long trek in the cold rain and when we got there – it was after 5 and most of the staff had left. It was also up steps at the back – and somebody rang the police! We were called to a stop by the police and interrogated – were we protesting? No we were just out there in the street – what all together? One person said we had no reason even to have to answer any questions. The policeman said he wanted to hear our part of the story – well, I never went in so I could truthfully say that I couldnt. What story is there to tell?
So some of us went off for a well deserved tea break and off to another meeting to discuss the 12th Feb People’s Convention with the Right to Work campaign. But of course, we had to have another access issue – the taxi driver at the taxi rank refused to take me saying he didnt have a ramp – which is illegal – so the other taxi driver was very irate and complained it was totally out of order and that we should report him – so here you go – taxi driver license 64124 – taxi with no ramp!
Eleanor Lisney
Photos can be seen at our flickr site – http://www.flickr.com/photos/disabledpeopleprotest/sets/72157625773604577/with/5385235903/
you can also read the fuller report of events all over the country including this one in London at the Benefits Claimants fight back web blog
Pics of the London demo can also be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/peteriches/with/5385496598/
From the Right to Work website written by Linda Burnip: http://righttowork.org.uk/2011/01/national-protest-against-benefit-cuts/
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3 Responses to “Atos Origin and Triton Sq:we were kettled”


  1. [...] kettling of disabled people, however brief, is terrible. The police must be told that this will not be [...]

  2. Jiheishou Daigakusha Says:

    Isn’t it illegal under the Equality Act 2010 to treat disabled people the same as everybody else, without regard to their disabilities, when such treatment could prove detrimental?


  3. [...] Cuts asked their followers to spread the word that protesters were being kettled. Later that night, an account of the kettling, along with a photo of the barriers placed around the group, appeared on the organisation’s [...]


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