Hundreds of protesters in the Southside of Glasgow have today (13 May 2021) managed to stop a Home Office attempt to detain and deport two local residents to Afghanistan.
At around 10am this morning, calls went out from local direct action groups, including the No Evictions Network, to physically resist the deportation attempt. One individual lodged himself underneath the Home Office van before other activists could arrive to stop the van from moving.
As the day went on, hundreds more protesters joined until the two men finally had their release secured, at around 6pm.
The police put out the following statement at around 5pm, and the two men were finally released amid a ridiculous police corden. The two then marched together, with all the protesters to the local mosque. At last, the two men were able to enjoy some of their Eid-al-Fitr, without fear.
Activists from the Communist Party and the YCL were among those in attendance, along with dozens of different groups, and hundreds of ordinary local people who answered the call in support of their neighbours. Protesters would have stayed long into the night, had the police not decided to give up.
Politicians from across different parties came out to condemn the action by the Home Office, made all the more disgraceful given today is the final day of Eid al-Fitr.
Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader, who also comes from the area, said: “I am disgusted by the Home Office raids in Pollokshields. It is particularly unacceptable that this is happening during a pandemic, in an area that has a spike in cases and on the day of Eid. We need an immigration policy that is based on human dignity & human rights.”
Nicola Sturgeon, who is the local constituency MSP, as well as being First Minister said, “I disagree fundamentally with UK Home Office immigration policy but even putting that aside, this action was unacceptable.“
However, activists have been quick to highlight, not just the disgraceful acts from the Home Office, but also the ridiculous response from Police Scotland. While the First Minister, may not have control over immigration, the Scottish Government does have control over policing.
In response to an entirely peaceful demonstration, Police Scotland felt the need to bus in hundreds of police officers, dozens of riot vans, and police horses as well. At every move, the police tried to intimidate activists, riling them up in the hope that, had protests turned to violence, they would have had the upper hand.
The fact that the cost of the heavy handed police response to the peaceful protest would probably house and support multiple asylum seekers for years should be lost on no one.
Irrespective of this, however, the scenes in the Southside of the city today represented an historic victory for one of the most diverse communities in Glasgow. More than anything it showed the power of direct action and the importance of community organising.
Without the efforts of ordinary people who care about their neighbours, the Home Office would undoubtedly have had their way today, enabled by the efforts of Police Scotland. But the people of Glasgow, and the people of Pollokshields refused to let this happen.
This is a massive victory for local people. However, it has to be the beginning of something new. Dawn raids have restarted in the city after a brief pause as a result of the pandemic. This is not the first time immigration officials have tried to detain people in this area, and sadly it will not be the last.
Today demonstrated real working class power in our community. Let’s build on it and develop what was shown today to show the Home Office that we will not support their racist anti-immigration agenda.
Not in Glasgow. Not anywhere