By Robert Punton
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Rights not games: Disabled People Against Cuts activist speaks out

This article is over 7 years, 5 months old
Issue 2520
Robert Punton (centre) on the protest
Robert Punton (centre) on the protest (Pic: @paulapeters2)

Yesterday, Wednesday, several Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), colleagues (quite a lot) including me took part in a peaceful direct action. It was to highlight the growing threat to the independent lives of disabled people from the cuts to support from this and recent governments.

Although the week of protest is entitled “Rights, not Games”, we have nothing against Paralympians. In fact, I have nothing but respect for the hours of dedication they give to achieve their goals.

However, the reality is that for two weeks every four years they are portrayed as superhumans on billboards and television, the rest of the time they are left to survive on the steadily shrinking support that they and thousands like them need to survive.

It amazes me when I hear comments like those expressed by Britain’s richest MP, Tory toff Richard Benyon, who tweeted,” Some bunch of charmers have decided to disrupt millions of Londoners by sitting down on Westminster Bridge”.

Then there was a tweet quoted in the Sun on the day following the actio—“Activists a little too active this week. Too much time on their hands?”

1. The person who said this speaks to us as if we are a separate species. Fact, everyone is just a moment from being in our position, being labelled disabled.

2. Contrary to what she implies we have got lives to get on with, and we are forced to take such drastic action to ensure we can continue to life the livesa lot of people take for granted.

Which brings me on to the Metropolitan Police, who are constantly asking just to take our protest from the road onto the pavement. They have not a problem with people protesting as long as it does not disrupt the lives of people.

Well, that is the point of protest—to disrupt.

People sat in the road are protesting.  People sat on the pavement are tourists.

As I told the many police officers who tried to convince me to vacate the road, I am more than willing to be arrested to ensure that people have the chance to live their  lives, rather than observe life like a tourist.

The fight for social justice is a struggle for everyone. When we stand up for one, we stand up for all. –

So join us—be an activist, not a tourist

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