On the 26th April Glasgow Against Atos were on the streets again for our regular rolling picket in the city centre. We began like usual by meeting outside the Atos testing centre on Cadogan Street. We chanted messages of solidarity for Steve Topley, a man who had been arrested and detained in Nottingham for making angry threats during his Atos assessment. Our campaign stands in solidarity with all of those who are routinely degraded by this brutal attack on the sick and disabled.
In reaction to the huge toll of deaths caused by the brutal Work Capability Assessments, members of GAA had put up placards on the wall commemorating those who had died in the process. In response, police waded in and declared that the placards must be removed as they were on private property. However, rightly standing our ground, we refused to take them down. In a powerfully symbolic action, the police officers ripped them down themselves- signifying the complete disregard from the State to the tragedy of thousands of deaths.
After this commotion, some people stayed at Cadogan Street to offer advice to those entering the building to undergo their assessment, whilst a group began the rolling picket around the city centre. We began by mobilising at the Royal Mail Post Office at St. Vincent Street as they are currently engaged in a contract with Atos. We set up our banners and began distributing leaflets whilst members of the campaign made speeches on the mega-phone.
It was clear at this point that the police were desperate to make an arrest, with around six officers placed near the group. The picket was soon interrupted by the appearance of a lead organiser of the BNP, whose appearance we can assume was no coincidence. The GAA made sure that the presence of this man and his politics would not be tolerated as we took to the megaphone to expose his identity and condemn his insolence and beliefs. In reaction to this the police stepped in and gave us a warning to stop using the megaphone, protecting the interests of racist party members instead of peaceful protesters. Their strategy was evident as it emerged that the police themselves had approached shop owners, asking them to make a complaint about the noise and giving them a reason to shut us down.
Not deterred, we promptly organised ourselves and headed toward Buchanan Street where we defiantly began to use the megaphone again, showing the cops we will not be defeated! Here a number of speeches were made which attracted a positive response from the general public. With a police van on guard and the police waiting for arrests to be made, we collectively agreed that it would be best to leaflet some more at the bottom of Buchanan Street and leave our regular picket outside the Commonwealth Games Offices on Albion Street.
The actions of the police during this protest clearly exhibits the struggle that Glasgow Against Atos face in attempting to defend the basic human rights of the sick and disabled. It is clear that the time is now to fight against the ruling class who continuously attempt to quash any form of resistance against this brutal and vicious policy.