DAN blocks Whitehall against Welfare Reform Act

Tagged as: campaigns repression_surveillance
Neighbourhoods: whitehall

On Wednesday 3rd December, the International Day of Disabled People 2008, activists from the UK Disabled People's Direct Action Network (DAN) and London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP) blocked traffic both ways on Whitehall, directly outside Downing Street, for over 45 minutes in protest against the new Welfare Reform Act, which replaces Incapacity Benefit with a much more punitive "Employment Support Allowance" and forces disabled people into "workfare" schemes which are effectively free labour for corporations.

??<P>About 15 disabled activists from DAN, with a wide range of different impairments (including a homeless disabled person who we met in Trafalgar Square immediately before the action and who had never heard of DAN before, but who immediately joined and came with us!) and a similar number from LCAP marched down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street, carrying placards with slogans such as "Welfare Not Workfare", "Liberty Not Poverty", "Welfare Reform Not Welfare Destruction" and "New Labour Slave Labour". Once at Downing Street, DAN activists blocked Whitehall, first the northbound traffic and then both sides, and held the road for over 45 minutes despite the prompt arrival of the Metropolitan Police and disablist abuse from angry van drivers.</p> <P>After sitting and standing firm in the face of threats of arrest, DAN collectively decided to leave together. Some protesters were manhandled by police, but no one was injured or arrested. The Associated Press were informed, but failed to turn up until after the action was over (unlike DAN and LCAP's own photographers), however they did ring our action press contact and the story and photos were sent to them.</p> <P>Photos of the action will be posted (hopefully) later today (people who are on Facebook can view them there at the groups "I Shot Pudsey Bear" and "Direct Action Network").</p> <P>Despite the cold weather, a great day was had by all (except a few motorists and police)...</p> <P>??</p> <P>DAN website under development...</p> ??