UK: Disabled People Occupy Westminster Abbey Against Cuts to Independent Living Fund, Standoff With Police – Updates

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UPDATE: To understand how cruel and brutal was the action of the police against this protest – it was rather a cry for help – you have to read how carefully they planned their occupation which they needed to make their voice heard. They are among the most invisible people in our societies, and it’s not because of them. The accidental anarchist was there, helping and participating, and described here how they organized, and how mechanically police crushed their protest while the church turned their back on them

We Love You DPAC : A few months ago I was invited by DPAC ( Disabled People Against the Cuts) to get involved with a protest about the Independent Living fund which is due to be cut. With out this living fund disabled people will no longer be able to live in their own home independently and will loose any chance of living anything that resembles normal everyday life. The kind that you and I take for granted.

 

To be honest working with disabled people is all pretty new to me and it is only through protest that I have got to know some active DPAC protesters. And I am now all to aware of the precarious balance that they have to deal with to maintain an anyway functional life. Some having to deal with the most complex health issues, accessibility, discrimination on a level that I can only compare to homophobia and racism which I have learnt is called Ableism. 

So meetings were called and we got to listen to and hear what the disabled people wanted to do. Week in and week out we discussed plans, places, times, numbers and sometimes we went round in circles, but there more meetings I attended the more important this action became to me on a personal level as I got to know the people from DPAC  and witnessed the difficulties faced every minute of their lives and how they fight every minute of their lives to overcome it.

It was very important to keep the action a DPAC action. It so easily could have become an Occupy action to outside eyes. I soon realised that I was there to facilitate DPAC’s action and to make sure they were not discriminated against in their right to peaceful protest. So as in all minority situations we had to make sure that the decisions of the DPACers were respected and we did not influence decisions to suit ourselves as what we may want to do as able bodied people.

So the meetings continued and the excitement was growing. We split into working groups, ( each group given a clean phone to be able to communicate with other groups on the day) logistics, Press, Church, Lock on’s and the Any other shit working group. DPAC had now made the decision to Occupy a church not any old church only Westminster Abbey.”

Read it all, here 

#SAVEILF  #Occupywestminster

 

 

June 28: Disabled activists chained to the gates while camp is set up to save Independent Living Fund; cuts are life-threatening for disabled people; police deny protestors in wheelchairs food and medicine. Police were brutal to disabled people.  

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Disabled people and supporters opposing the closure of the Independent Living Fund (1) have occupied a site opposite Parliament in protest against government attacks on disabled people’s right to live in the community freely and with dignity.

At 4pm a group of around 100 ILF recipients and their supporters moved into a space in the grounds of Westminster Abbey to set up the occupation. Wheelchair users including Silent Witness actor Liz Carr have chained themselves to block the gates shut while an accessible campsite is erected complete with hoists and equipment.

Disabled people intend to stay on the site and urge the government to re-open the Independent Living Fund and guarantee disabled people’s right to independent living. A letter has been sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury urging the church not to take action against the protestors.

The ILF is the subject of an ongoing battle between disabled people and the Government. In November 2013 the Court of Appeal quashed the Department for Work and Pension’s decision to close the Fund, citing the “grave detrimental impact” on exiting ILF recipients (2). In March 2014 Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning announced a new decision to close the ILF from June 2015. Under current proposals responsibility for fully meeting the support needs of disabled people will fall to already cash strapped local authorities (3).

Since the closure of the ILF to new applicants in December 2010 disabled people who missed out on the Fund are living in isolation and without their basic needs being met. Kevin Caulfield, an ILF recipient said, “Changes brought in by this government herald the end of independent living for disabled people and the return to a segregated society where disabled people are warehoused away. Ironically at a time when the public is up in arms about abuse in care homes, current government policy will return disabled people to exactly those places where we are most at risk of abuse. Disabled people fought hard over many years to fight our way out of the institutions to live and participate alongside our families and friends. We won’t go back. We will fight back.” Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against Cuts (4) who are supporting the occupation said, “The message from the government is that disabled people cost too much. But there’s enough money to bail out the banks or to pay millions to private companies to mess up our welfare system. Last year in the UK the super-rich increased their wealth while disabled people starved to death(5).

Austerity is the choice our government of millionaires is making. Investing in a society where disabled people have equal access is the choice that we’re fighting for.” Alison Playford from Occupy London, who are also supporting the action said, ““The devastation currently being visited upon disabled people in Britain is not the result of a broken system.

The economic system works as intended – to exploit and punish the 99% while increasing the wealth and power of the 1%. The system that is attacking disabled people is the same system that is attacking migrants and low paid workers. It is the same system that caused the economic crisis and is destroying our natural environment.

Members of the Occupy movement are taking action alongside Disabled People Against Cuts because we stand with all those who are building a society that services the well being of people and the planet, not the accumulation of profit.”

Visit Independent Living-Fight Back 

Follow  and #saveilf for live updates.

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Around 150 people have occupied forecourt of Westminster Abbey.

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