As these things often do, it started on Manzil Way where people had been gathering for awhile. I arrived at the last minute and joined the demo. There was a mix of people, some people I recognised from local anarchist and anti-cut groups, some from the Green Party and My Life My Choice, and quite a few I hadn't met before. I only saw two cops.
There seemed to be a concious effort on the part of the organisers to make sure (for want of a better word**) disabled people could take prominent roles in leading the demo; since the focus of the callout had been on increasing the visibility of those on the front lines of the cuts this seemed to make sense.
I suppose it raises questions about what assumptions we make based on someone's appearance, whether the disabled/non-disabled split is a false dichotomy, and so on, but personally I think it was much better to make an attempt to tackle these issues, however imperfect, than ignore them and allow dominant societal norms and behaviours to arise as the unquestioned default.
Not far into the demo, someone was loudly suggesting that we march in the road rather than on the pavement. At first a handful of people did so, but it didn't catch on and after a while they rejoined the rest on the pavement. I found out later that the decision not to take the road was based partly on the small size of the demo, but also on the fact that some 'more vulnerable' people in the demo didn't feel comfortable doing so.
Again, this raises questions: was the decision made by the crowd as a whole at Manzil Way, or by a few organisers? Could we, as a crowd, have supported more vulnerable people to feel safe taking the road? It seemed to me that there were enough of us to do so, and that it would have been a boost to the visibility that the demo aimed for.
After a march through town past huge crowds of curious tourists and summer school students, we arrived at Bonn Square, and finished off with an open mic session and a final burst of music from the samba band. As someone I chatted to pointed out, it was refreshing to attend a rally where almost all the speeches were from people fighting against cuts that directly affected them, not by bigwigs or politicians trying to score points.
A set of photos are here:
...unfortunately the photographer seems to have chosen a corporate platform for hosting them; c'est la vie...
** It doesn't really make sense to use the word 'disabled' to describe people when most of the issues they face are a result of society's assumptions and norms. You could argue that in some senses it's society that's 'disabled':