Disabled activists protest in streets against deadly cuts to their benefits planned by Crabb
DISABLED people brought London's Tottenham Court Road to a standstill yesterday as they vented their fury at hundreds of deaths linked to cuts in disability benefits.
Dozens of activists from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Winvisible and the Mental Health Resistance Network assembled outside this year's TUC Disabled Workers conference before marching on to the street.
Ignoring police orders the protesters blocked the street with banners and wheelchairs, chanting: "No More deaths from benefit cuts."
Tottenham Court Road, at the junction of London's central shopping district and the famous Soho area, quickly filled up with blocked vehicles and supportive passers-by.
"At the moment we've got the weakest government this country has seen and what is needs is us standing against it," said DPAC national committee member Roger Lewis.
"What we did today is show that direct action is important to bring us the media and the spotlight, but it's also important to bring together the union movement."
Supporting the protesters on the street were strikers and general union PCS members from National Museum of Wales.
Previous DPAC demonstrations have supported PCS members at the National Gallery and workers at south London cinema Ritzi, who went on strike for the living wage.
Mr Lewis said the Welsh battalion was fundamental to show that in order to defeat the government workers and grassroots activists needed to stand united.
Actions like the 30-minute road blockade “show that anyone can do it,” he added.
“We have to be clear, because unfortunately there are others in the trade union movement who think [protest is] an alternative to trade union work and I don’t think that’s what the members think.”
Visually impaired Mr Lewis also said the protest was a way to show that disabled people are capable of giving the government as much of a good fight as anyone else.
“We are always trying to break away from that mould where we’re the helpless, the harmless, the vulnerable.
“We are actually the ones who’ve been there to fight the hardest for the last six years.”
Campaigners held a banner listing the hundreds of people who have lost their lives following cuts to their disability benefits.
Mark Wood’s picture stood above his name — a small reminder of the 44-year-old’s death after being declared “fit for work” in 2014.