DPAC are National heroes, by Carl Green
DPAC are National heroes.
The protest on the 28th June wasn’t just to save the Independent Living Fund, which was it’s prime purpose, it was also a fight for Human Rights. It was a fight for freedom in the face of major adversity.
The massive Police presence bought in to deal with probably a hundred protesters, possibly 50 of whom were disabled, was shameful. The intimidation tactics they used were both oppressive and unnecessary.
From the Police’s arrival it was obvious their intent was to be forceful, pushing at protesters who were hastily trying to erect tents, the Police then positioned themselves on top of the canvases to stop the tents being erected. Two gazebos were erected to at least allow shelter to some of the disabled people who were present, many were left outside the gates as Police enclosed the area.
Surrounded by up to 300 Police on a rainy day in Westminster Abbey’s grounds DPAC made their presence felt, news, pictures and quotes quickly filled Twitter and Facebook. The National press, always around Westminster, were absent as has come to be the norm when it comes to protest but still the action flooded out via social media.
At one point the outer perimeter of the Abbey was cordoned three deep by officers and an Officer stated the public had to be protected from what could be violent protesters. The only violence in the end that was used came from the boys in blue, two arrests for jumping the fence and one for an alleged aggressive stance against an officer. Arms were twisted up backs with the maximum force we’ve come to expect along with overwhelming numbers.
The Police neither allowed food, drink nor medication to be passed over the railings even to those who were severely disabled. It seemed they were determined to cut them off. A giant inflatable ball, like a big beachball, that a couple were playing with wandered off course into the Police lines and was quickly detained, though it is not known if it was cautioned properly or charged with any offence.
The Law that the Police intended to use was Boris Johnson’s Bye Law, which is used around Westminster and Trafalgar Square. This Law flouts Human Rights and it is obvious why it is not a National Law. Although it has been tested in Court by Brian Haw and the Democracy Village these were open ended protests which is why the Judge saw fit to rule against these protests. Infact in Judgement the main reasons both Brian and the Village failed were :
The concept of semi-permanent protest.
The lack of hygiene facilities.
The fact that tented protest was not ruled out but permission could be applied for.
I should like to see these inhumane Bye Laws fully tested under different circumstances to Brian Haw and the Democracy Village as I feel they are eroding Human Rights Law.
DPAC had possibly unintentionally made a stand for Human Rights as well as the Independent Living Fund.
As the afternoon progressed it became a stand off and although the Police under the Bye Law “could” have confiscated the tents etc and charged those protesters they wisely chose not to.
Surrounded by a sea of intimidatory fluorescent yellow jackets and unable to erect the tents, having taken some knocks from the initial melee with Police DPAC stood firm. Messages were sent to the Dean of Westminster Abbey, the Bishops and others via the internet and via a letter pre prepared by DPAC. The letters, messages, emails and tweets all seemingly ignored as the Dean failed to make an appearance.
There was to be no biblical Good Samaritan, no Christianity or pious ear to listen to grievances of the suffering. The Church of England turned it’s back like a commuter walking by the homeless. I’m sure there will be excuses, “reasons”. I’m sure the Dean was sitting petrified of what in the end was about 50 disabled people mostly in wheelchairs surrounded by three hundred Police.
Police were now threatening to arrest the walking and kettle DPAC. It was DPACs show and although they had support from Occupy, UK Uncut and others they were firmly in charge. An assembly, meeting, was adjudged the way forward and those who were not DPAC or Independent Living Fund related were asked to leave for their own safety as arrests were imminent. Members of DPAC showing yet again their moral fibre.
After 5 hours of siege, some knocks and bruises, some arrests including a detained inflatable ball DPAC decided it was in the interests of all to call it a day. I don’t believe they did so because of themselves, I believe they knew others would be arrested and this perturbed them.
The siege of Westminster Abbey may well have been over, they may have been bruised, jostled and intimidated by over zealous Police but there was only one moral and National victor and that was DPAC.
The news eventually made mainstream with coverage even from the BBC.
DPAC not only struck a blow for the Independent Living Fund but for fundamental human rights. Boris’s Bye Laws are wrong, you cannot locally over rule Human Rights because you consider a protest a nuisance. This Bye Law needs testing.
A blow was struck for freedom on 28th June 2014 by DPAC, national heroes and protectors of Human Rights.
A proud day for them and all that supported.
We Love You DPAC ! – Vid with footage of yesterday set to music.
Occupy Westminster/Save ILF – Full Report
Disabled people enter Westminster Abbey to protest at ILF closure
Livestream channels on the day: