Early in the morning on Thursday 24 October, a group of activists from Bristol Rising Tide and Reclaim the Power took direct action to prevent Immigration Enforcement vans from leaving the Home Office’s depot in Portishead, near Bristol.
Their action came a day after public anger and grief as 39 people, including a teenager, were found dead in a lorry container in Essex. The 39 people are presumed to have been immigrants trying to enter the UK.
Direct action against the Home Office
According to a press release:
People are occupying the roofs of Immigration Enforcement vehicles and stopping them from leaving the Home Office building in Portishead.
The action is designed to prevent dawn immigration raids across the South West this morning. Around fifteen people dressed in pink overalls, holding placards saying “stop the raids” and “stop kidnapping our neighbours”, are part of a national day of protest against the institutional racism of the government’s Hostile Environment policy.
When Theresa May was Home Secretary in 2012, she announced that her intention “was to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration”
Immigration raids – in which people are targetted by Immigration Enforcement officers, taken from their homes, streets or places of work and taken into detention centres – are a part of this policy.
Raids “that tear people from their homes and communities”
Griselda Dunbar of Reclaim the Power said:
The Home Office conducts raids from this building, with these vehicles, that tear people from their homes and communities brutally and barely legally… Last year Mustafa Dawood, a young Sudanese man, died fleeing in fear from one of these vans. There has still been no inquiry into his death.
“Lives torn apart”
While our country wrestles with the Brexit identity crisis caused by our colonial past, people across the world continue to have their lives torn apart by the smash and grab approach of UK based companies and British foreign policy. When they come here fleeing war and climate chaos they are punished again by racist policies determined to turn these survivors into criminals. It’s perverse and horrific and has to stop,
The action was intended to encourage people to resist immigration raids. Alex Green of Reclaim the Power said:
According to Green:
The Canary received this update from the activists after the protest:
“We are witnessing the realities of a harsh immigration system”
On 23 October, The Canary reported that “a murder investigation has been launched after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on an industrial estate”. Those who died are believed to be immigrants from China trying to enter Britain.
Tanya Long of Dover-based charity Samphire told The Canary:
The loss of 39 lives is a devastating tragedy and our thoughts are with their families and friends as we wait for details to emerge of who these people were, and where they came from. It is evident that we are witnessing the realities of a harsh immigration system that led these desperate people to that lorry and ultimately to their deaths. We urge a change in the system to allow safe and legal routes for those who migrate and are seeking asylum.
Samphire supports people released from immigration detention in the UK.
Featured image via a press release from Bristol Rising Tide