At the People’s Assembly march in Manchester having allowed people into the official protest area at the Tory party Conference yesterday the police then proceeded to kettle them. DPAC activists then blocked a tram line in protest at what they saw as an unfair move by the scores of extra police who had been drafted into Manchester to protect the Tories.
Sadly the police in Manchester reacted rather aggressively to this and 2 disabled people were arrested and a veteran activist in his 80s was left badly bruised by being man-handled by them.
Rick burgess of Manchester DPAC said “DAN (Direct Action Network) veteran & MDPAC member Dennis Queen has been charged with Public Nuisance after their arrest yesterday. We reject utterly the heavy handed policing and targeting of disabled people, all to protect a government found guilty of Grave & Systemic human rights abuses. If there are any arrests to be made it is of the Conservative party government over their democide of disabled people. Whatever costs Dennis incurs we pledge to meet with a crowdfunding drive. Our community shall not be victimised like this.”
Another member Sharon Hooley has been cautioned by police for protesting yesterday. Rick said “Full respect and support for her brave stand in defiance of quisling security forces protecting an unlawful government.” At one stage Sharon another wheelchair user was surrounded by 13 police officers.
9am-10am, Thursday16th October: Outside AIT (Asylum and Immigration Tribunal), Piccadilly Exchange, Piccadilly Plaza (top of Mosley Street just before Piccadilly Gardens), Manchester M1 4AH
“The asylum process feels like a slow poison that is taking away my zest for life” – Manjeet Kaur
Disabled human rights campaigner Manjeet Kaur, who is resisting Home Office attempts to evict her onto the streets, is to appeal against the decision to withdraw her housing support.
Trade unionists, disability and equal rights activists, and other campaigners will join the lobby in support of Manjeet outside the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in Manchester from 9am-10am next Thursday, October 16th.
Manjeet, who is Chair of RAPAR, appeared on national television news last year to counter new anti migrant policies announced by Home Secretary Theresa May at the 2013 Conservative Party Conference.
Since she sought asylum in the UK more than three years ago, Manjeet has been a tireless campaigner for human rights and worked with the UK Disabled People’s Council to highlight injustices faced by disabled people seeking asylum
She was told she must leave the accommodation in Whalley Range, where she has lived since 2011, by today (Thursday, October 9th) at the latest. The unsigned and unaddressed hand delivered letter from Serco, which runs asylum housing in the North West on behalf of the Home Office, said:“Should you refuse to leave the property on this date, we will have no choice but to take legal action to evict you.”
Manjeet, who is from Afghanistan and has used a wheelchair since she was eight years old, recently lodged a claim with the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the High Court has failed to engage with the facts of her asylum case.
Currently, the Home Office are examining her latest appeal. Manjeet’s solicitor Gary McIndoe, of Latitude Law, explains: “In our view, successive judges have failed to address the core issues of the case – Manjeet’s nationality, the harm she suffered in the past and the practicality of removing her to India…”
A spokesperson for RAPAR said: “Manjeet is facing eviction from her home because her asylum case is deemed by the Home Office to be at an end. Yet, in the view of her lawyers, successive judges have failed to examine the core issues of her case. It seems that the Home Office is prepared to evict a disabled woman who uses a wheelchair onto the streets when the facts of her asylum case have not been properly considered.”
Manjeet added: “As a disabled asylum seeker with various health issues and hospital appointments, I feel I am living on the edge. I will be made destitute with a limited ability to survive on the streets. Is this something the state allows to happen in the society that we live in?
“The asylum process feels like a slow poison that is taking away my zest for life.”
Sharon Hooley, of DAN (Direct Action Network for Disabled People) will be one of the speakers at the lobby outside the tribunal next Thursday.
Commenting on Manjeet’s case, Sharon said: “We say this is a ‘civilised country’ yet it seems perfectly acceptable to demonise, discriminate, alienate and rob disabled people of their basic human needs.
“Since becoming disabled in the past six years, I never thought I would see such pure hatred and lack of humanity towards people like myself. So I’m shouting out for all those who have been made invisible to our society. I ask you all to open your eyes and ears and see the truth about what is happening right in front of you.”
For more information, please contact: Kathleen Grant 07758386208/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Manjeet Kaur, who lives in Whalley Range, came to the UK in March, a month after the disappearance of her husband Amitt Bhatt – a journalist and Kashmir human rights activist who was threatened and attacked because of his anti government articles and books. In the past, Amitt has spoken on the same human rights platform as Jemima Khan.
Manjeet fled to the UK because she was beaten twice and threatened with rape and murder by people who were looking for her husband. She uses a wheelchair due to paralysis caused by polio and the injuries she sustained during the beatings have worsened her condition.
Manjeet was born and lived in Afghanistan until the death of her father, a doctor in Kabul. Since her husband disappeared, Manjeet has no-one to care for her in India but she has relatives in England who can support her. Earlier this year, Manjeet’s husband finally escaped to the UK and immediately claimed asylum.
Details of Manjeet’s case can also be found on the RAPAR website http://www.rapar.org.uk/keep-manjeet-safe-in-the-uk.html
On Saturday 29th March there will be a march and rally from Eccles to Meadowbrook Hospital to protest against mental health cuts.
·Save Mental Health Services in Salford are organising the event on behalf of mental health campaigners in Bolton, Salford and Trafford, where the local NHS trust, Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust, is planning to reduce the number of beds by 20% over the next two years.The demo is timed to coincide with the end of their consultation on 30th March. Eccles was chosen as the location because it is equidistant from the three towns.
·The UK has lost 1700 mental health beds over the last three years; a further reduction locally will make it more likely that admissions will have to be made to units a considerable distance away, and often to private hospitals.This makes impossible for friends and family to visit, delaying the patient’s recovery.It also costs the NHS, as private beds can cost up to £4000 a week.Manchester Mental Health Trust which has already made similar reductions in capacity recently had 38 patients being treated outside of area.
·The trust claim that by closing wards they can extend cover to support care in the community but this will not be appropriate in many cases and staffing calculations suggest home visits will be of extremely short duration.
·Since the demonstration was called mental health community care workers employed by Salford City Council have been ear-marked for redundancy as part of a wave of budget cuts.Service users thus face a double whammy – there will be less support to prevent hospital admissions and if an admission is necessary there will be fewer hospital beds.Redundancy notices have not yet been issued but if they are employees will be ballotted for industrial action.
·There will be a rally at Eccles Cross at 12.30 pm, with speakers from all three areas, including service users, carers, trade unionists and health campaigners.The march will move off at 1.00 pm and proceed through the pedestrian precinct, along Wellington Road, Gilda Brook Road, and along Eccles Old Road, past Salford Royal Infirmary, and down Stott Lane to a rally at Meadowbrook at approx. 2.15 pm.
·Organisations supporting the march include:
oUNISON Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust (Karen Reissman 07972 120451)
oSalford against Cuts (Kevin Corran 07971 495597)
oSave Mental Health Services in Salford (Jill Royle 07914 893653)
oUnited Service Users Committee (Steve Cullen 07941 400870)
oGreater Manchester Keep Our NHS Public(Hugh Caffrey 07769 611320)
The next steering group of the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation meets on 7 September 12-4pm in Manchester. Please email to confirm you can send one or two reps from your local groups and supporting organisations, to help decide next plans.
MCAC is working with Manchester Against Benefit cuts to organise a week of action against changes to disability living allowance and the role of ATOS in carrying out “evaluations” for fitness to work which have been linked to over 1000 deaths between August and January following loss to benefits (see press coverage below). Please support this action to highlight this scandal. More details of week of action to follow.
Details of week of action
31 May, 12pm: Protest march from Albert Square to ATOS “assessment” centre at Albert Bridge House
6 June, 7pm: Public Meeting at Friends’ Meeting House on building resistance against ATOS
9 June, 11am: Petition and stall, Market Street
Manchester Against Benefit Cuts Facebook page
Welfare cuts “linked to suicide”
There is “anecdotal evidence” of people committing suicide after losing their benefits following a reassessment, an MP has claimed.
A freedom of information request revealed that between January and August last year, 1,100 people had died after they lost their benefits.
Labour MP John McDonnell asked the Government to investigate whether there was a trend of people with mental health problems committing suicide after being ruled as fit for employment.
He said: “MPs across the House, and ministers, have emphasised the importance that care must be taken in dealing with people with mental health problems as they approach the medical and capability assessments, even if they lose benefits.
“There is some anecdotal evidence of suicides taking place of people who have lost benefits.
“Has the Government explored any of the coroners’ reports in these cases where there has been a reference to the loss of benefits as a contributory factor, and what lessons have been learnt?”
Speaking in the Commons, employment minister Chris Grayling replied: “We will always look very, very carefully indeed where something like that happens. So far my experience is that the story is much more complicated. But that does not mean we are not doing the right thing.
“I passionately believe that we should be helping (people), particularly those with mental health problems. I have met people who have been out of work for years and years and years with chronic depression who we are now beginning to help back into work.
“We have got to be very careful but we do look very carefully when those situations arise.”
Let’s go on a journey back in time to the year 1948 …
Britain was emerging from a World War and had a huge national debt. Much bigger than the one we face today. Did we see painful cut backs and austerity measures?
No, quite the opposite. We saw the birth of our National Health Service and the Welfare State. The UK was the first country to make health care, social care and financial security accessible to all.
1948 saw the launch of ground-breaking new laws designed to protect and care for everybody in our society, including universal unemployment benefits,, universal child benefits, disability benefits, rights to housing and the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
1948: a year when the Olympics were last in town; and the people of Britain were, at last, looking forward to the future.
Britain back then really was “all in it together”. The future looked better than the past. So, we partied in the streets and dreamt of what we could achieve as peo-ple and as a country.
Fast forward to 2012 and things feel rather different. The government is not playing fair: its spending cuts are the deepest for decades and it’s cheating ordinary people by forcing them to suffer for an economic crisis they didn’t cause.
The government is also lying: it actively enables big business to dodge tax and slashes tax rates for the wealthy. Right now, for us, for ordinary people in this country, the future’s not what it used to be.
So now is the time to party like it was 1948. Street parties are going to be all the rage for the Queen’s Jubilee. But let’s make ours have a twist.
On Saturday 26th May join UK Uncut’s Great British Street Party to demand that we keep our public services, our rights and our welfare system and to celebrate a new future that isn’t dictated to us by a handful of millionaires but decided by us all – together.
Join Notts Uncut at 12 noon on Listergate outside Topshop. For more info find us on Facebook – Notts-Uncut Part-of UK-Uncut, Twitter @nottsuncut or look for event info on Nottingham Indymedia.
— How can we continue to connect the dots between economic, climate and
— How can we strengthen links between the anti-cuts movement, Occupy,
community action and climate groups?
*Agenda for the Day:*
Welcome and introduction to CJC for new comers
Brief updates from other initiatives (eg Fuel Poverty Action,
BiofuelWatch, Kick Nuclear, Frack Off, Plane Stupid, Campaign against
Climate Change, Occupy, UK Tar Sands Network) – unconfirmed –
Reflecting on the Big Six Bash mass action.
CJC + Climate Camp – doing things differently
Planning for the Future
*What is CJC?*
Climate Justice Collective is a grassroots network of UK groups and
individuals. We support and take action against the root causes of climate
change and for a clean, affordable, democratic energy system. CJC formed
out of the Camp for Climate Action following its decision not to organise
on a national level in 2011.
Starting Thursday 31st May, Manchester Against Benefit Cuts, alongside Manchester Coalition Against Cuts and others, will be supporting a week of action against Atos and their Tory friends. We hope to coordinate this with as many groups as possible, and make the week as big a success as we can. We will also be attempting to coordinate action with trade unionists in both Britain and France. If you are interested in getting involved, we will be having an open planning meeting next week , and will be meeting at the Manchester May Day march (see below for details). We hope to get as many people and groups behind this, and encourage everyone who wants to get involved to do so.
WEEK OF ACTION AGAINST ATOS
MAY DAY MEET UP
MONDAY 7TH MAY
ASSEMBLE 11AM, BEXLEY SQ, SALFORD
We will be marching behind the Manchester Against Benefit Cuts banner and leafleting for the week of action.
OPEN PLANNING MEETING
TUESDAY 8TH MAY
MEET 6PM, NUJ OFFICES, MANCHESTER
Opposite Chorlton St Coach Station
This will be directly before the Manchester Coalition Against Cuts meeting, so people can stay on for that if they want.
PROTEST AGAINST ATOS!
THURSDAY 31ST MAY
ASSEMBLE 12PM, ALBERT SQ, MANCHESTER
After meeting at the Town Hall, we will march down to the Atos offices on Bridge Street.
PUBLIC MEETING – STOP ATOS!
WEDNESDAY 6TH JUNE,
7PM, FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE
DAY OF ACTION AND CAMPAIGN STALL
SATURDAY 9TH JUNE
MEET 11AM, VENUE TBC
Disabled people: the first to go. Understand why & how to prevent the current backslide which threatens all groups who are discriminated against. RESISTANCE: a crucial & inspirational exhibition in Manchester til 3 Know this history to help fight current misinformation and hatred centered around the same ideals, spreading the idea that disabled people are unworthy and our state cannot afford us. Very similar propaganda is how the holocaust began – allowing it to happen led to the deaths of millions of other people too.Liz Crow tells us how the resistance of disabled people and our allies was central to bringing this to an end, as it still is now.
RESISTANCE ON TOUR
I had the opportunity on Friday to visit and participate on a panel discussion at Liz Crow’s hard hitting and inspirational installation “Resistance” which I believe to be one of the most important projects about disabled people I have ever seen. It covers some of the hardest issues to cover in a radical and sensitive way and leaves people thinking about what we can all do to make sure nothing like a holocaust ever happens again. I found the discussion very inspiring and learned lots from the other (frankly, awesome) participants.
Then I finally went to see the installation RESISTANCE, which I have been waiting to see for years now, featuring some of my very favourite actors such as Jamie Beddard, Lindsay Carter, Mat Fraser and Ali Briggs.
It left me breathless.
I watched half of it with my head dropped in defeat on my friend Becca’s arm, soaking her sleeve. I felt grief stricken and angry. I felt euphoric seeing some fight back.
I felt confused at seeing highly skilled kickboxer Mat Fraser getting shoved into the death bus.. nothing like the man we know, no kicks in the face to his assailant, just the fear and confusion our people faced before the fightback started, before they knew what was happening. I wanted to scream KICK HIM MATT!
It sounds like I am mentioning this through frivolity but this is a perfect example of how people capable of so much more were institutionalised unwittingly slaughtered like lambs when taken for a ‘day out’. (If someone tried and do this to the real Matt.. I don’t think they’d live long..)
I felt afraid at how current beliefs are now so very close to the beliefs which led to the deaths of almost all identifiable disabled people in Germany, not so very long ago. I felt overwhelmed that the public accepted this and that their acceptance of such hatred against disabled people then also led to the deaths of millions of Jewish people, LGBT people, Roma people and others.
I felt determined I would continue to fight and advocate for our equal right to exist. My brain was exploding with the question WHAT MUST WE DO? What can I do that I am not already doing?
The first thing I’m doing is talking about Liz Crow’s installation and I am asking you come and experience it and / or to tell others about it too – share this blog, blog about it yourself, tell other people, ask people to support us in our current fight against fatal prejudices.
The fundamental MODERN belief that disabled peoples’ lives are of different value to others underpins ALL the prejudice we currently face – especially the dehumanisation we currently face in some areas of media and public opinion.The same beliefs which led to the holocaust now lead to cuts against every service which affects our lives, including those which keep us alive, hatred, attacks and murders, leaving disabled people destitute, locking 340,000 people in institutions in the UK, the killings of unborn disabled babies any time until birth, the do not resucitate procedures and withdrawal of treatment from disabled people of all ages, and the focus on ‘helping’ us to die by setting up special death centres to administer lethal drugs (‘assisted suicide’ centres).
Liz’s project is a crucial installation for all of us to see, disabled people and everyone else. Not just because it exposes our hidden history which is ignored by so many (because they just don’t mind) but because it also draws attention to how current government propaganda is leaning very close to that which was spread before the killing started. And most of all because Liz tells us how disabled people began to resist, inspiring us all to resist, continue to resist and resist harder.
Many people do not realise the Nazi holoucaust began with the extermination of disabled people and having perfected techniques of mass killing on our people, the Nazis went on to exterminate millions of Jewish people, travellers and queers. Disabled people were the testing ground – would the methods work? Would the public accept the annihilation of their fellow citizens? The answer was yes and then the creep began, into every community the Nazis believed did not fit their ideal of humanity.
This part of history must never be forgotten so we never allow it to happen again and Liz Crow questions what we will ALL do to make sure it does not.
It is crucial to understand disabled peoples’ history to understand how we got where we are today. It is esential to recognise that the politics of the past continues to affect contemporary strategies – which, having thrived uninterrupted are now on a steep increase in these ‘Times of Austerity’ – while government is intent on convincing the population that disabled people are a burden on the other citizens of this country which we cannot afford and we are worth less than others.
I reaffirm my foundational belief that while our lives continue to carry unequal status to the lives of others, most importantly our very right to exist in the first place and to continue to exist, we remain at great risk and the symptomatic discrimination we face is to be expected.
We must fight back on those core beliefs and not shy away from them as so many do, we do have a right to fight these beliefs, to fight for our very lives, to encourage disabled people, our families and our allies to fight back and to never ever stop. Not even just a right – we have a responsibility.
Please support Liz’s installation by visiting it during it’s time in Manchester at Zion Arts in Hulme. Please share this blog. Please talk about the issues it raises. Please keep fighting deadly prejudice.
DPAC went to Manchester for the TUC march on the Tory Conference. There were reports of more than 35 000 marchers by the BBC.
There was some uncertainty as to where disabled people should be but we stayed together and was near the top of the march. It was very noisy, ‘they say cut back, we say fight back’ the crowd chanted. The police presence was very obvious and snipers were spotted by some when we approached the Manchester Central Convention Centre. But it was mostly peaceful.
Mounted police as well
After the main rally, Linda Burnip was one among others to speak at the Right to Work meeting
Mark Serwotka carrying DPAC banner in Birmingham march
TUC : March and Rally for an Alternative
Thousands of Tories will descend on Manchester for their conference that starts on Sunday 2nd October. The Tory cabinet will be joined by all of their MP’s and Councillors, their members and supporters. There will be over 10,000 Tories in Manchester!
12 noon Liverpool Rd. (off Deansgate) Manchester M3 4JR. This venue is a 10 minute walk from the train stations at Piccadilly, Victoria, and Oxford Rd. The coach drop coach drop off near by on Water St. Manchester M3 4JU
Salford Feeder March
Assemble 10:30am at Fire Station Square, Salford M5 4NZ
Off The Crescent, opposite Salford University. The Salford will be joined by a delegation from Wigan. This march goes via Bexley Square (where flowers will be laid in commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Bexley Square) and via Lower Byrom St into Liverpool Road.
Education Feeder March
Assemble 11am, University Place, Oxford Rd. Manchester, M13 9PL. This march is set to join the main March at Deansgate/Liverpool Rd. It is called by Manchester Education Activist Network. Supported by: Manchester University Student Union, Manchester University Against Fees and Cuts, Manchester Metropolitan EAN, Salford Uni Against Cuts, Xavarian College Students Against Cuts, Bury College Students Against Cuts, Manchester Socialist Workers Party
Disabled people’s short march
Details of the short march for disabled people and carers will be finalised soon. There will be full accessibility for people with chairs on the march and at the final rally.
Final Rally at No 1 First St
The area around No 1 First St is the largest open space in the Manchester City center. It is home to the Town Hall offices of Manchester City Council. Following the £110 million cuts imposed by the Tory Government on Manchester there now rows of empty desks in this building, as thousands of jobs have been cut. When Manchester people protested against these savage cuts Tory Eric Pickles told them to ‘get over it.’
TUC Rally Event starts at 2pm No 1 First Street
Speakers include Paul Kenny GMB and TUC President, Len McCluskey, Unite, Christine Blower, NUT, Mark Sewotka, PCS, Chris Keats, NASUWT, Bob Crow, RMT, Mary Boustead, ATL, Rena Wood Unison, Matt Wrack FBU, Remploy local rep, Terry Hoad UCU President. Additional local speakers will be announced
Return coaches will pick up from streets very near the final rally point.
West Midlands anti cuts co-ordinating meeting press release.
At West Bromwich Town Hall on Tuesday 10 May, anti-cuts groups from across the West Midlands met to plan and coordinate opposition to the ConDem Government’s assault on the Public Sector and Welfare System.
Groups from Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Shropshire and Walsall and DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) called upon anyone opposed to the cuts to join them in supporting the Trade Unions currently in dispute or balloting their members over the vicious attacks on pensions, and to take part in rallies and demonstrations on 30 June when nearly a million workers could take the first step in the industrial action needed to defeat the Government’s plans.
On Thursday 12th May Right to Work, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Social Work Action Network (SWAN ) hosted a meeting at Unison headquarters in Birmingham about ConDems attacks on the disabled and cuts to benefits. It posed two questions – Who are they targeting and How can we stop them?
Linda Burnip from DPAC outlined the detail and depth of the attacks on disabled people. Linda highlighted the savage cuts to housing, disability, sickness and welfare benefits, with disabled people likely to see a drastic drop in disposable income with many slipping below the poverty line.
Polly Sweeney, a solicitor from Irwin Mitchell spoke about how discrimination law can be used to stop the cuts to disabled people and gave us a report on a case she’s just won preventing Birmingham City Council changing eligibility criteria for care funding.
Nicki Ward and Barbara Marshall from SWAN pointed out British social welfare policy under the Coalition Government is undergoing a breathtaking upheaval. Profit and care are not compatible. SWAN are urging those involved in social work to make a stand against the social violence being unleashed by the ConDem coalition: to speak out, campaign and join the movements of resistance.
Paul Brandon National Secretary of Right to Work urged everyone to remember this is a bankers created crisis and we should not be made to pay for it. He urged everyone to support coordinated strike action on the 30th June and to build for massive demonstrations outside the Lib Dem conference on the 18 Sep in Birmingham and the Tory party conference on the 2nd October with them ultimate aim of bringing the ConDem coalition down.
A successful week of actions called by various disabled and claimants groups and supported by Right to Work protesting against ATOS the private firm milking millions of tax payers money from the testing of disabled people through their tick box computer Work Capability Assessments occurred all around the country. Over 50 anti- cuts groups also supported the week of action.
Several events took place in London supported on Monday by PCS members who share the hatred disabled people feel towards ATOS since they also make profits from testing civil servants who have been off work sick. In Northern Ireland NIPSA, the largest public sector union, whose members are losing their jobs next month to ATOS expressed support for the protests.
On Thursday the Islington event picketing both ATOS and A4e was supported by RMT staff whose jobs are being replaced by the use of unemployed people through workfare programmes. This is something we feel union members will start noticing much more of in the near future as these schemes continue to be rolled out nationwide.
Other major protests took place in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Truro, Nottingham, Hastings, Cardiff, York, Chatham, Plymouth and Bristol plus on 2 days in Brighton, and on 2 days in Birmingham. In Birmingham protesters performed Brighton Benefits Campaign play ‘The Computer says NO’ with RtW’s Simon Furze playing the part of the wicked computer. In Cambridge there was an occupation of the ATOS office.
Medway anti cuts campaigners protest over disability benefits
Campaigners from Medway Against the Cuts protested outside a Medical Testing Centre in Batchelor St Chatham on Friday against ATOS Origin the private company that run the centre.
More from RtW website
‘We will be back!’ says ATOS protesters in Manchester
In Manchester thirty protesters rallied outside the assessment offices of ATOS. They marched into the grounds chanting, ‘Benefit Cuts No Way! Make the Greedy Bankers Pay!’
‘These attacks on disabled people are designed to force people into work when they clearly are not fit for work. The process is designed to drive down wages of those who are in work. It is an attack on everyone,’ said Lesley Barrington.
‘A diagnosis of mental health problems can take years to reach. ATOS is putting people under pressure, some become suicidal over these cuts. When they take away benefits from people with mental health problems they do tremendous damage. It is obscene to take away people’s basic rights in the 21st Century.” Paul Reed,Manchester Users Network, a charity that helps users and ex users of mental health facilities in Manchester.
‘Basically I am really scared about being forced into work. A lot of other people are in the same situation. We end up being numbers not people. I am really proud to be here with everyone on this protest.’ Sharon Hooley,Disability Adult Action Network
The early days of May, 2011 saw Washington, DC invaded by 300 members of a national grass-roots community organisation – ADAPT – bringing together disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom. ADAPT was in Washington to protest against Representative Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal, which includes massive cuts to Medicaid.
Medicaid is the United States health program for people and families with low incomes and resources. It is a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and is managed by the states. Under the Ryan Plan, Medicaid programs would be cut by 35%, which translates to a loss of $772 billion in human services. Additionally, the Ryan Plan proposes a system of Medicaid block grants for states—giving states greater ability to make cuts. Currently there are 60 million people counting on Medicaid right now, 8.5 million are disabled people; 8.8 million are on low incomes, frail, elderly and disabled individuals who rely on Medicaid to plug the gaps in Medicare coverage, such as long term care. Medicaid pays for vital services to assist people with learning difficulties to live and work in the community rather than be forced into an institution. ADAPT went to Washington to demand:
STOP CUTS TO MEDICAID AND NO MEDICAID BLOCK GRANTS TO THE STATES.
On Monday, 2nd of May, ADAPT occupied the Rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building demanding that Congress derail Ryan’s budget proposal. As evening approached the Capitol Police began arresting ADAPT members from all over the country, who had remained in the Cannon House Office Building since midday. The ADAPTers wanted three Representatives to publicly withdraw their support for Medicaid budget cuts and Medicaid state block grants. They stated that without this commitment, ADAPT were willing to do whatever it takes
“…to defend the right of people with disabilities and seniors to live in our homes, not nursing homes and institutions.”
By night’s end 91 members of ADAPT had been arrested.
The following day 10 more members were arrested for “unlawful conduct” as they sat and chanted in Rep. Paul Ryan’s office demanding that Medicaid not be a block-grant to US states. The 10 were the ADAPT
negotiating team who were there to lead a discussion on rebalancing and budgetary concerns, clarifying that institutional long-term care options are more expensive than providing long-term care services chosen and directed by Americans in our own homes. When it became clear Representative Ryan’s team wasn’t planning to give them anything more than lip-service, ADAPT ramped it up. The 10 were chanting loud and strong “No More Block Grants,” followed by “We Want Ryan.”
At the same time approximately 250 ADAPT members were out in the hallway began using cell phones to call Representative Ryan’s office and demand that he meet with them to discuss how block grants limit home and community-based options that save money spent on long-term care services.
The following day saw ADAPTers focus on the U.S. Senate, particularly the Gang of Six, the bipartisan group of Senators who are charged with creating the Senate’s budget plan in response to Ryan’s Plan. Six contingents of around fifty ADAPTers each visited one of the six Senators’ offices to demand that the Senate budget plan eliminate the institutional bias, prevent caps on Medicaid spending, and get rid of the idea to block grant Medicaid funding to states. In addition, we asked that the Senate work to introduce legislation that will mandate community choice as a service in every state, and work with ADAPT to ensure that our voices are at the table in every decision that affects us. ADAPT threw down a hard line that no matter how supportive the Senators may be of our cause, this issue is life and death for us and we cannot be satisfied until we have specific budgetary commitments.
Six ADAPT leaders also met with senior advisors at the White House on disability and the Affordable Care Act, respectively. There third action was attending a press conference jointly convened by the National Association of County Organizations’ (NACo) Large Urban County Caucus and various Senators.
All in all ADAPT made its presence known in Washington at exactly the right time as states flounder through their Medicaid crises and the Senate and House get ready for a showdown over the budget. ADAPT is, as always, ready to pitch into the fray to fight to DEFEND OUR FREEDOM!
Crucial issues to consider
In the opinion of DPAC these events across the pond highlight a number of crucial issues. First, the cuts taking place in the UK should not be viewed in isolation nor simply reduced to a question of mismanagement by the previous Government; they are taking place due to the financial crisis caused by agents of global capitalism. Agents who put profits before people thereby employing an economic system that cannot serve communities nor protect the planet from greed and exploitation.
Second, what this means is our response to the cuts cannot simply have a local or national dynamic; disabled people must show our solidarity with disabled people across the globe. We must support our disabled brothers and sisters in the US against budgets cuts to Medicaid but we should also support our disabled brothers and sisters across Africa and the Middle East as they struggle against injustice, inequalities and oppression.
Third, the significance of the events of 2nd – 4th of May in Washington, DC for disabled people is to note how organised and determined the ADAPTers were to take their message to the political elite. They didn’t go “cap-in-hand” like a Victorian Oliver Twist to beg for more whilst hanging onto the coat tails of the charity sector. ADAPT had clear demands and were prepared to back these up with direct militant action – they understand that disabled and older people’s are at stake. ADAPT also offers clear political leadership – something which is disturbingly lacking in the UK; between October 2010 and May 2011 there has been little done by national DPOs to protect the interests of disabled people.
Protestors at Triton Sq, London
In the UK Disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners have called a week of action against poverty pimps Atos Origin beginning on Monday 9th May with a picnic and party in Triton Square home of their head office. All week events are taking place across the UK.
Thursday, May 12 · 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Unison offices, 19th floor McClaren Tower, Priory Queensway. B4 7NN
Public Meeting: Benefit Cuts: Who are they targeting? How can we stop them? – called by DPAC and Right To Work
Then on Friday May 13th at noon outside Waterstones bookshop opposite bull statue in Bullring centre join them for leafleting and street theatre ‘ The Computer Says NO’ an adaptation of a Brighton Benefit Campaign play.
After a previous successful demonstration outside ATOS, Flowers Hill, voicing our dissent at the way this Government is attacking the most vulnerable in our society and using ATOS as a way of doing it, we are asking you join us for another demonstration between 3.30-5.30 Thursday 12th May 2011 outside ATOS, Flowers Hill, Brislington.
Disability Benefits Building, St Agnes Street, Gabalfa, Cardiff
As part of the National Week of Action against Benefit Cuts and Atos Origin kicking off on Monday 9th of May, we will be staging a protest outside the Disability Benefits Building at St. Agnes road, Gabalfa, Cardiff.
Bring music, drums, banners, placards, snacks to share and brighten up the faceless corporate wasteland that is the Benefits Building!
Medway Against the Cuts (MAC) will be holding a protest picket of the ATOS Testing Centre at 1a Batchelor St Chatham between 12 and 2pm on Friday 13th May. Medway Against the Cuts can be contacted at medway-against-the email@example.com
Some autonomous claimants plan to attend and will be meeting up with WinVisible at 11.30 on Victoria Embankment at the corner of Derby Gate SW1. The march will go past Parliament towards Millbank, ending at Dean Stanley St. The nearest tube station is Westminster. Bring anti-atos placards, leaflets etc
11 May · 17:00 – 18:30 Grey’s Monument Newcastle Coalition of Resistance supporters will be at Monument from 5pm on Wednesday 11th May in support of ‘Rights not Charity’, supporting campaigns by benefit claimants and disabled people facing cuts to benefits.
11:00AM Monday, May 9th
Day of action against ATOS origin and Office Angels / Adecco
Meet at 11am outside Office Angels (located in the city centre past the right lion. Next door to MAC and opposite The Square bar/club)
Plymouth Claimants Union will be demonstrating outside the Atos Origin Argosy House , Marsh Mills , medical centre in Plymouth from 11.00 am Monday 9th May. Free transport from city centre. Cntact firstname.lastname@example.org
There is now a Cornwall DPAC group formed which may be contacted at email@example.com We are holding a protest day in Truro and going to the ATOS office. Meet outside Weatherspoons in Lemon Quay at 10.30am on Wednesday May 11.
 In the USA the term ‘people with disabilities’ equates with the UK’s ‘people with impairments’.