#2014Games HQ Occupied
At 11.00 am yesterday morning (Monday, July 2nd) around fifteen protestors from Citizens United and Glasgow Against Atos, including supporters of the campaign from Glasgow Games Monitor 2014, entered and occupied the headquarters of Glasgow 2014 Ltd, the Organising Committee (OC) for the Commonwealth Games 2014 at Albion street in the gentrified Merchant City area of Glasgow.
The group were protesting against the continued use of the ATOS as a sponsor for the Games. ATOS are widely despised by people with disabilities for conducting target-led work capability benefit assessments on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). They are responsible for thousands of deaths, suicides, and severe mental health problems associated with the assessment process. The protestors were led by a gorilla with ‘TRAINED ATOS MEDICAL EXAMINER’ stencilled on his white lab coat. Despite strenuous efforts by security, and despite the police being called, protestors managed to enter the building and cause a significant disruption for around an hour.
The protestors stated that they would not leave the building until a meeting was arranged with a high ranking official from the Games Organising Committee. A meting was duly arranged with David Wilton, Games Security Operations Manager, and Janette Harkess, Head of Games Media and former Deputy Editor of The Herald and The Evening Times (The Herald, incidentally, is the official Games media partner).
At this meeting protestors Sean Clerkin and Steven Crilley explained that the protest had been called because ATOS has been responsible for 600,000 people being taken off benefits (causing untold poverty, and physical and mental stress) and that 3,500 people had died because of the benefits assessments process. They stated that ATOS’s role as an IT company and sponsor for the Games could not be disassociated from their punitive, murderous role in social security cuts.
They said choosing ATOS as a sponsor for the Games was a ‘massive political error’ that was ‘abhorrent to right-thinking human beings’. They re-emphasised that human lives were involved, including very close relations of the protestors and the protestors themselves, and reminded the officials of how far they were from the reality of social security cuts and the poverty of those subject to declining benefits or complete benefits cuts.
In response David Wilton said he could not comment until further internal discussion but would raise the issue with the Games Organising Committee (OC). One official present asked Glasgow Against ATOS if the protestors could let the OC know when more protests were planned so that they could prepare beforehand, and ‘business as usual’ could go on. We haven’t made this up. That is what he actually said.
Protestors told the Games officials that protests would continue until ATOS were dropped from the Games as sponsors, or an official apology was offered to those who had been subject to ATOS’s vicious treatment. Protestors also said that disabled Games athletes intended to protest during the Games in the official stadia unless one or both of these demands were met.
Protestors now await a response.