BBC blocked by disablement protesters calling for truth in London
Disablement protesters, some in wheelchairs, protested at Broadcasting House in London over the BBC's failure to report truthfully the effects of government cuts, particularly on the disabled, while blocking the main BBC entrance.
The protest was organised by Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) and the Scottish Black Triangle anti-defamation campaign in defence of disability rights. Around 15 people, including four in wheelchairs, met at a nearby cafe to discuss final plans before making their way with legal observers and a few photographers unnoticed to the main entrance of the BBC building.
Once there they quickly spread out across the row of doors with their banners. BBC security staff then locked all but one of the end doors, keeping a passage clear through that. The protest began with almost all of those taking part speaking out in turn about the failure of the BBC to report the real hardship caused by ATOS assessments and the withdrawal of benefits, benefit cuts and caps and the bedroom tax. They were all fed up with the BBC repeating the lies and half-truths of government and asked why the real problems and numerous deaths from the austerity programme and the protests over these were not being properly reported.
The situation is critical for many poor and disabled people, with over 500,000 having to resort to food banks set up by churches and charities to fend off starvation. The protesters chanted 'BBC, Tell the Truth' and requested someone from the BBC to come and discuss the issue with them - but no one did.
They made clear they were not asking for special treatment for the disabled, but for full, accurate and impartial reporting - something the BBC once had a reputation for, but sadly no more.
Near the start of the hour-long protest, activist comedian Mark Thomas by chance walked out of the BBC, and came to greet the protesters, some of whom he had met when he gave a 'mass miracle' performance outside Atos's Edinburgh office as part of the Fringe Festival. He was persuaded to speak briefly and gave his support to the protest, praising the protesters for coming to make their views known to the BBC.
Soon after this, two of the protesters, one in a wheelchair, moved in front of the only open door, blocking this by D-locking themselves together in front of it, closing the entire entrance for the remainder of the protest.
At this point the BBC security guards who had earlier made a half-hearted attempt to persuade the protester to clear the entrance made another attempt. Again they were repulsed when protesters made clear to them that they were not going to move and would bring charges of assault if the security tried to move them physically.
At this point BBC Security called the police, and around 25 minutes later two police cars arrived. The officers spent some time talking with BBC security, and then came to talk to the protesters, who informed them that they would be leaving peacefully in around five minutes at the end of an hour's protest.
Although the BBC did not send anyone to talk seriously with the protesters, a few minutes before the protest ended a BBC cameramen arrived, having been asked if he would film the protest. I joked with him he might try and sell the footage to Sky or some other broadcaster who were rather more likely to use it.