Protesters challenge police in Deptford as part of bonfire-inspired civil disobedience against austerity measuresGuy Fawkes-clad protestors clashed with police and disrupted traffic in Deptford this morning during an anti-austerity demonstration.
Police threatened to arrest protestors for obstruction as they gathered, clanging pots and pans, on either side of New Cross Road near Deptford High Street.
Ray Woolford, of local political party People Before Profit, and founder of the Lewisham Food Bank, said: “[The events today are about] really just showing people that we are the majority and we don’t have to put up with this. The reason that utility bills are big news in the media is because of the activists in the streets. The reason the bedroom tax is a big political issue is because across the UK people are fighting the bedroom tax.”
Woolford added: “The reason poverty is an issue is because people like us are out here in the pouring rain and the misery and the decay all around us and we’re saying we will not tolerate this. Enough is enough, and we’ll take to the streets.”
More events in Lewisham are planned today, with a procession beginning at Lewisham Town Hall in Catford at 4:30pm.
The procession will culminate at the Grassy Knoll opposite the Lewisham DLR station in the evening, where organisers will burn effigies of various political figures, including David Cameron, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Home Secretary Theresa May.
The protests today, organised by the People’s Assembly against Austerity, mirror demonstrations taking place on Bonfire Night across the UK. Lewisham drew a diverse crowd of activists from the south east branch of the London People’s Assembly and from People Before Profit.
Barbara Janiszewska, a People’s Assembly member and a former art psychotherapy student at Goldsmiths College, explained how austerity cuts have affected her personally.
“There’s not much work in my profession [after public sector cuts],” said Janiszweska. “There’s this feeling that we should work for nothing. We’re asked to work on a voluntary basis, and how can anyone work on a voluntary basis when the cost of living is so high?”
Clive Baulch, a People Before Profit member whose benefits were sanctioned after losing his job earlier this year, said: “Some of us are not willing to lie down and play austerity. We’re fighting back, however we can do it. We’re fighting back.”
To find out more about the demonstrations today, visit Lewisham Carnival against Cuts.