On Saturday 5th October over a 100 disabled people from DAN from all over the country came to Manchester. They were enraged that the Leonard Cheshire Foundation, the worlds leader in putting disabled people into institutions were holding a "Celebrity Ball" to raise money, no doubt to pay for the 1.3 million budget they have for public relations.

Apart from being the world's leader in incarcerating our sisters and brothers they now believe that disabled people are so stupid so ignorant that we couldn't run independent living services ourselves and are promoting themselves as experts on Independent living.

This is taking needed money out of our powerful disabled community.

Not for the first time has the oppressor tried to steal our ideas.

The ball was taking place in a plush hotel in Manchester, the Renaissance; tickets were 95 (150$) a head. Tables were 800 (1200$) a head. A red carpet was laid to welcome the suckers (guests).

An hour before the start DAN checked into the hotel and took 6 friends up to the DAN room.

Meanwhile our deaf sisters and brothers and Claire from Manchester popped into the hotel bar for an aperitif.

Shortly afterwards the whole crowd of us arrived and preceded to occupy the lobby and attempt to go to the Ball.

After about ten minutes the Hotel security kicked in and blocked the lifts.

Meanwhile DAN checked out of its hotel room and the danners who managed to get upstairs began to cause a stink at the Ball. We let off over 60 stink bombs in the Ballroom to welcome the "honoured guests" of Leonard Cheshire.

Downstairs in the foyer and outside danners were blocking the main entrance to the hotel when the police arrived.

Instead of diverting people to the many other exits and entrances the police decided that they would make an example of us.

In the ensuing struggle many danners suffered cuts and major bruises. Handcuffs were torn from wrists rather than using the bolt cutters available, passive resisters were roughly grabbed without warning. Wheelchairs were tipped over and many danners suffered injury. Rather than try to work through the situation the police were intent on moving us as quickly as possible even though guests to the ball were getting in and out.

One danner with Cerebral palsy had both his hands immobilised by policemen's boots and was being kicked, he tried to bite the policeman's leg.

In the end the police cleared out both the Danners in the Ballroom and those blocking the entrance inside and out. 3 people were arrested. One person had the charges dropped, another, a deaf person is bailed to appear later because the police had no interpreters and one has been charged with assaulting a policeman whilst six policemen pinned him down immobilising his arms with their boots.

DAN had met an untrained police force that had no idea of how to deal with or even work with non-violent protesters.

Upstairs of course the supporters of Leonard Cheshire did nothing to stop the police tactics. Huddled in their empty Ballroom the 30 people out of 800 invited tried to make the best of it.

The Lord mayor of Manchester told the Cheshire Foundation they were no longer welcome. The Renaissance hotel said they wouldn't take bookings from them again. Sounds like a great party upstairs doesn't it?

Outside the hotel we made sure that anyone going in and out of the ball got a stinking reception. We occasionally blocked doorways just to keep the police on their toes and away from their coffee break and lit candles for our brothers and sisters still locked behind their walls.

By midnight no one was left in the ball and we pulled off. Our 3 people arrested were released by 4am.

DAN scored a major victory by denting Cheshire's credibility. DAN has announced to the world despite their million pound PR budget that the Leonard Cheshire Foundation abuses disabled people's fundamental human rights.

We struck a blow for every person in a Cheshire home and for every one of us threatened by their very existence that we too might end up there.

We struck a blow for independent living services controlled by us not the oppressor of the past (and present).

We sent a message to the corporate givers including the so-called "ethical bank, the Cooperative," that Leonard Cheshire is far from ethical.

We would like to thank all the people who supported us the danners, members of the public, the hotel staff and the people who turned away from the Ball.

This was a hard action with many of us still suffering the physical wounds of battle. But spiritually, whatever that means for you who were there, we want to say we all did a great job in the struggle for all our freedom. We were united we were strong and we won.

Free our people

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