Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wheelchair users block Oxford Circus to protest at disability cuts 'We're not scroungers and fakers' say wheelchair protesters.

Peter Walker
The Guardian

Wheelchair users complain that they are seen as an easy target.

Disability activists blocked one of central London's busiest road junctions on Saturday with a line of wheelchair users chained together in the first of a series of promised direct action protests against government welfare cuts.

The demonstration, which brought much of Oxford Circus to a standstill for more than two hours, was the product of an alliance between disabled groups and UK Uncut, which came to prominence by staging similar direct actions against corporations accused of avoiding tax.

Planned cuts to the disability living allowance could see 500,000 disabled people losing money, the charity Mencap has said.

Many of those taking part said they had never before joined a demonstration, let alone taken such direct action, but felt angry at the proposed cuts and the associated rhetoric from ministers and the media.

"The tabloids have created this idea that we're scroungers, or fakers," said Steven Sumpter, 33, who left his home in Evesham, Worcestershire, at 6.30am.

"This has allowed the government to do this [propose the cuts]. Disabled people are seen as a good scapegoat."

Merry Cross from Reading in Berkshire said disabled people needed to join together. "We're seen as quite an easy target," she said. "We don't necessarily live in the same places and we can find it hard to get together. That makes it easy for the government to think they can target us."

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