Jody McIntyre : Who’s apathetic now?
My name is Jody McIntyre and I didn’t begin fighting for equality on the 9th December, the night that I was thrown from my wheelchair and dragged across the road by a riot police officer. I’ve spoken out against injustice, in all contexts, for as long as I can remember. As someone who was told by doctors I probably wouldn’t walk or talk, it has been my objective since the start of my journey to inspire people with disabilities to demand equality. It saddens me to highlight that on my travels I’ve found it easier to travel in a wheelchair in Gaza city than in the City of London.
From travelling in South America and Vietnam to living in Palestine for nine months, I have always been determined to stand up for what I believe in. Having faced opposition from my own family members when I decided to go travelling independently, the current opposition to me being present at a student protest isn’t up to much. I was simply exercising my democratic right to protest against the government after all and I always planned to demonstrate in Parliament Square, as this is where our government sits.
From previous experience at student demonstrations I knew that the 9th December would be a passionate affair, however, what I did not expect was to be physically manhandled and thrown out of my wheelchair by a member of the law enforcement agency. To the cries of “but you must have provoked the police Jody!” (a popular one with the BBC) I ask you, what did Ian Tomlinson do at the G20 protests, which I was also present at, to warrant his demise after the police had struck him? Tomlinson was not even participating in the demonstration but still became a victim of the law’s forceful hand.
Saying that, this is not my first experience of an altercation where the police are concerned. As I previously blogged, while at a student protest on 24th November one Constable grabbed me by my chest and begun shaking me violently, screaming, “Get back! Get back!” Considering the crowd of 500 people behind me, I am still not quite sure where he was suggesting I could “get back” too.
There are those who say I shouldn’t be on the frontline of a protest, but I believe every single one of us has a duty to fight against those oppressing us.
To those who believe I should just ‘take it’, I have taken it but I still don’t believe being dragged out of your wheelchair is an acceptable consequence of attending a demonstration against rising tuition fees.
Adding insult to injury is The Daily Mail, which found it appropriate to suggest I’m faking my disability and am mentally inept when it comes to making decisions about my actions. Highlighting a somewhat backwards attitude towards disabled people and their place in society, that over 500 people have already complained about Richard Littlejohn’s depiction of me as Andy from Little Britain (I don’t wear vests for a start), shows whose side the public are on when it comes to what’s acceptable where mocking disability is concerned.
I would not attend a demonstration without having a basic understanding of the issue at hand. To those trying to veil a three hundred percent increase in tuition fees and the abolition of the EMA (educational maintenance allowance) as a progressive measure, it’s deceitful and dishonest. It is the EMA that keeps students like my 16-year-old brother in college. Let the crumbling coalition government desperately clutch for straws of support but they’ll find them few and far between.
As a result of events on the 9th December I will be pursuing legal action against the police. But I do not because I see myself as a victim. The real victims are the likes of Alfie Meadows who was hospitiised as a result of his injuries. We need justice not only in my case but also in Alfie’s case and anyone else who’s suffered in this struggle.
While this condemned government continues to promote values of inequality and attempts to widen the gap between rich and poor, I will speak up for those who do not have a voice.Tagged in: Alfie Meadows, Jody McIntyre, student protest, tuition fees
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