Manifestazioini degli studenti in Inghilterra, c’era anche Jody sulla sua sedia a rotelle. Poi la polizia l’ha preso e rovesciato per terra. Ecco quelò che pensa Jody. L’intervista è del Guardian del 15.12.2010:
Jody McIntyre: ‘Why is it so suprising that the police dragged me from my wheelchair?’
The sight of a man allegedly being dragged out of his wheelchair at last week’s protests was shocking to many. Not to Jody McIntyre himself
Jody McIntyre, who was allegedly pulled out of his wheelchair by police at the student protests earlier this month. Photograph: Felix Clay for the Guardian
It takes only a minute or so with Jody McIntyre to realise it would take much more than the combined forces of the Metropolitan Police, the Daily Mail and the BBC to keep him down. After a week of tumult and sleeplessness, he is buoyant and focused when I meet him at his family home in East Dulwich, south London. Seven days ago, this 20-year-old political activist was at the student protests in London with his younger brother Finlay when police allegedly hit him with a baton, and pulled him from his wheelchair not once, but twice.
“It was an angry and passionate demonstration,” says McIntyre, “and it was also hugely tense and hugely hostile, because there were mounted police ready to charge into the crowd.” He was at the front of a large group of protesters in Parliament Square when he was struck on the shoulder with a baton by a police officer, he says. “Then around four police officers pulled me out of my wheelchair and carried me away.”
Not long after the protests, footage emerged of the second incident which, while grainy, shows McIntyre out of his wheelchair, being pulled along the ground by police, as voices in the crowd shout “What the fuck are you doing?” and “You just tipped him over!” It’s difficult to watch without mounting horror, and the thought: has it come to this? The police dragging a man with cerebral palsy through our streets?
Not everyone had that reaction. In the Daily Mail, columnist Richard Littlejohn compared McIntyre to the Little Britain character Andy, who is notoriously monosyllabic and isn’t actually physically disabled – whenever possible, he gets up behind his carer’s back and runs around. “If [McIntyre’s] looking for sympathy, he’s come to the wrong place,” wrote Littlejohn. There also seemed a distinct lack of sympathy from the BBC, in an interview conducted by journalist Ben Brown on Monday night, that has attracted thousands of complaints. The BBC News channel controller, Kevin Bakhurst, asked why people objected to it, and the answer seems to be this: in interviewing an apparent victim of police brutality, Brown’s tone was highly accusatory. He asked whether McIntyre might have been “rolling towards” the police in his wheelchair, whether he had thrown missiles at the police, and repeatedly questioned why he hadn’t yet made a legal complaint about his treatment.
On this last point, McIntyre is currently in talks with his lawyer, and considering all the options. When it comes to Littlejohn, he says he “couldn’t care less what he writes about me. He’s an idiot, basically. But the reason it upsets me is because I know it will offend thousands of disabled people across the country. Complaints have been made [to the Press Complaints Commission], and I fully support that action, because it was completely discriminatory.”
Was he surprised by the tone of Brown’s interview? “Not at all,” he says, “because it’s state television. Why do we so heavily criticise state television in other countries and then suggest that our state television would be impartial? I was at a demonstration against the government, and I’m then interviewed on television that works for the government. Why would they question me fairly?”
I ask whether he was scared at any point during the demonstration, and he suggests he has seen much worse recently. At 18, straight after his A-levels, and inspired by Che Guevara, McIntyre decided to travel through South America for three months; after that, he went to Palestine to live in areas including Gaza and Bil’in. “I had Israeli soldiers invading one village every night, shooting at us with live bullets, so a Metropolitan police officer is really not going to pose much of a worry to me. But it was quite humiliating, obviously, to be dragged from my wheelchair.” Was he surprised by the incident? “No, and I don’t know why other people are. To me, it’s as if people must have been asleep all their lives if they don’t realise this is the police’s role at demonstrations – to protect the interests of the government and the state.”
He has been on a lot of protests, on a wide range of issues, and says he has always had a political outlook, which he chronicles on his blog, Life on Wheels (“One man’s journey on the path to revolution”). He isn’t a student himself, but says he cares deeply about the issue both because “acceptance into university should be based on the merit of your grades, not the size of your wallet” and because “education is simply the first target. These cuts, this axe that the government is wielding, is going to affect everyone.”
He will therefore be on the next student protest, whenever it occurs, and is pleased that the “media myth of us as some kind of apathetic generation has been completely blown to smithereens”. But he worries about what could happen in future. “I honestly think in one of the upcoming demonstrations, if the police continue with this brutal violence, that someone will die,” he says.