Disabled people peacefully protesting against government cuts that are killing disabled people were physically attacked by police in a demonstration outside the Department for Work and Pensions today.
Without any provocation from the peaceful protesters who had gathered to show their support to disabled activists from DPAC, police used heavy handed tactics and pushed the crowd without any concern for the disabled wheelchair users lined up in front of the door despite repeated warning that disabled people were being placed at risk. Their actions resulted in one of the protesters having his shoulder broken. Another wheelchair user’s chair was broken in this unprovoked and disproportionate use of force by the police. The police made several attempts to unbalance protestors at the front of the crowd and broke one man’s glasses.
The wheelchair user, Patrick Lynch, hurt in the incident said, “The police officer involved was a thug and a bully, not fit to wear the uniform. If he hadn’t been in the police he would be facing charges for assault“
One of the peaceful protesters inside who was there to support the disabled activists occupying the foyer of the DWP building heard what was happening and attempted to alert police to the fact there were wheelchair users being crushed in the line and in danger of being hurt. Legal observers who attended the event will have witnessed this incident. As a result he was arrested and went peacefully. At the time of this statement he is still inCharing Crosspolice station and we have no further information as yet.
DPAC spokesperson Maud Wilkinson said, “What happened is regrettable. Taken in the context of the week of action this was an isolated incident. But disabled people will not stop organising and mobilising the resistance to the brutal attack on disabled people being perpetrated by the ConDem Government.”
At the end of the protest those occupying the DWP foyer left voluntarily and the demonstration ended peacefully and without further incident.
All the demonstrations organised by DPAC in this week of activity and previously have passed off without incident or arrest. We believe that the use of force by police was excessive, unnecessary, reckless and contravened our right to peaceful protest. It’s also difficult to see the police response as anything other than an attempt to provoke a violent reaction from the protestors.