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.
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.