Atos Picketed, Daily Mail Mobbed and occupied, and Westminster Council Told No
April 15, 2011
Protests organised by DPAC, Black Triangle and Benefit Claimants Fightback plus a number of autonomous local anti- capitalist campaign groups took place around the country yesterday as part of the Third National Day of Action Against Benefit Cuts.
A demonstration of 100 people gathered outside the Daily Mail head office in Kensington demanding that they end the lies they print about disabled people and benefit claimants. It was particularly good to see such a diverse group of people protesting together with people from Madpride and Mental Health Resistance, students, London Autism Rights Movement, Women Against Cuts, London Coalition Against Poverty and Right to Work groups amongst others.
Police initially prevented the protest happening outside the Mail’s entrance and demonstrators were herded behind barriers opposite the front door of the Daily Mail Group on the other side of the building instead.
However as the protest became increasingly angry it managed to move with great ease to it’s intended location where the microphone was passed round and impassioned and diverse expressions of contempt were aimed at the so called newspaper. The protest ended with mass chants of ‘fuck the Daily Mail’. The editor, Paul Dacre, declined an invitation to come out to speak to protesters.
Protesters then moved onto to Westminster City Hall where over a hundred people shared food, made speeches and vowed to defy any attempts to criminalise rough sleeping and the handing out of food in parts of the borough.
The Daily Mail’s Scotland offices were also targeted with activists invading their offices to distribute information and tell the faceless hacks personally what they think of the Daily Mail’s abuse of disabled people. Prior to this the group has demonstrated outside the Glasgow offices of Atos Origin, the company responsible for health testing benefit claimants in an attempt to strip people of benefits.
Atos Origin were the focus of many protests around the country. Their testing centre Edinburgh was picketed whilst over 40 people protested outside their premises in Dundee. The protest at Atos’ Scotland Head Office in Livingston turned out to be a red herring, with a large police presence arriving to discover everyone had gone to Dundee instead.
In Brighton the Computer Says No play was performed outside Atos offices to an enthusiastic crowd and heavy police presence. Liverpool and Leeds both saw demonstrations outside Atos, organised by local Solidarity Federation branches and the Black Triangle Anti Defamation Camapign.
An early morning demonstration in Islington saw a crowd of 50 people gather outside the North London Atos testing centre, and demonstrations also took place outside Atos in Bristol as well as in Burnley, Poole and Truro town centres.
The Armchair Army, Virtual Resistance and Troll A Tory ensured that those unable to attend protests in person could make their feelings heard. Hundreds of online activists wrote to MPs, media outlets or trolled Tory websites throughout the day.
Anti-benefit cuts camapaigners are now calling for escalation. A week of action against Atos Origin has been called beginning on May 9th. The first event planned for London is at ATOS headoffices Triton Square, just off Euston Road starting at 2pm.