Thanks to 1000 blackbirds for the work.
On 27th September, BBC’s File on 4 produced an episode on illegal working called ‘Working in the Shadows’. The programme also discussed enforcement operations and the resistance they have been met with. Simon Cox interviews a representative from the Immigration Services Union to find out more about the scale of opposition to these raids. Her response suggests there are acts of unreported rebellion, solidarity and protest now occurring on a regular basis across the capital and possibly beyond. What follows is taken from the programme’s transcript.
COX: [… ]The Home Office say only a handful of operations have been disrupted, but Lucy Moreton from the Immigration Services Union says it’s happening a lot more often than that.
MORETON: Missiles have been thrown – eggs most predominantly, but rocks. Vans get blocked in; we’ve had vans with the tyres slashed. We’ve had instances where officers have had to retreat, as I said, inside commercial premises and wait to be rescued.
COX: Those anti raids groups that you talk about, how effective are they at disrupting action by immigration enforcement?
MORETON: That depends on who you talk to. Senior managers within immigration enforcement will tell us that only a very small number of high profile operations have been successfully disrupted. What my members are telling me is that immigration enforcement jobs are disrupted to a greater or lesser extent pretty much every week.
Submitted by Deptford Anti Raids:
In response to a spate of multiagency raids on or near Deptford High street, some of us locals decided to form a Deptford anti raids group to build awareness and resistance in the area. We have been out on the High Street twice a week over the past month, running a stall with multilingual ‘know your rights’ info and handing out leaflets & info to passersby, shopkeepers and stall holders. We also have info on stop & search and gentrification, as these issues are all closely interlinked.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive, including some fruitful conversations with a few people who were initially less supportive, often due to issues with people working illegally and not paying tax. Their anger generally turned away from undocumented migrants and towards government and big corporations when it was pointed out that as much as £12bn a year is thought to be owed in corporation tax each year. In this incredibly hostile climate, we need to not be afraid to have these conversations and to challenge people’s assumptions around migration – in fact, it’s vital that we do.
We will continue to go out on the High Street twice a week for the foreseeable future and encourage others to start similar initiatives in their area.
The Daily Mail wrote a piece about the direct action taken by people in Shadwell last Wednesday with a usual mixture of fear-mongering and feigned indignation. Here is our response.
We want to make it clear that we unequivocally support those who took action to stop an immigration raid in Shadwell on 22nd July. Immigration raids – sometimes accompanied by sensationalist TV crews – are a cynical and aggressive show of force by the Home Office, and it should come as no surprise that people are fighting back. A few damaged tyres and egged windscreens are nothing compared to the violence that takes place every day when people are snatched from their loved ones, indefinitely detained, and forcibly expelled from the country.
The gutter press and politicians will always seek to isolate those who resist state repression by painting them as a threat. The Daily Mail’s racist headline about ‘Muslim Gangs’ is an attempt to capitalise on anti-Muslim sentiment and the reclassification of any criticism of the British state and so-called ‘British values’ as ‘extremism’.
In reality, immigration raids have been challenged by people from many different backgrounds. The resistance to the raid on East Street market a few weeks ago and this most recent challenge joins many other acts of resistance, non-cooperation and solidarity that happen all the time but rarely make headlines. The reference to a ‘Muslim gang’ in the headline of yesterday’s Daily Mail article is irrelevant, spurious (see ‘What is a Gang?) and deeply racist. The only way we can counter these targeted attacks designed to intimidate and divide us is by standing side by side with those who find the courage to take action.
Reposted from Rabble LDN
Reports are circulating of an attempted immigration raid being sabotaged by Shadwell locals on Wednesday (22 July). 16 tyres were let down and officers were egged in an action reminiscent of the resistance in Walworth last month. To make matters worse for the immigration cops, they had apparently been accompanied by media in a bid to do a spectacular “tough on immigration” stunt. The cops were called, and sadly two people were arrested in the incident.
One commenter said: “While they were busy raiding Chapman Street, their tyres got slashed, valves taken and cars scratched. The local garage refused to sell them tyres or help them. To top it all off they got egged from the local tower block and a few landed direct on their heads. Welcome to Shadwell.”
This article is from Rabble.org.uk and refers to a raid carried out yesterday (21st June) in Walworth.
Home Office immigration enforcement have been targeting the East Street market in Walworth, London SE17, all week, with no less than five raids over previous days. Today they came again at 5PM and snatched one man from a fish shop, presumably accused of working without legal documents.
But this time, things were not going to go so easy for the thugs in blue. After call-outs went out through the local grapevine and also on social media, people from the area including the next door Aylesbury Estate rushed down to the scene. The Home Office snatch van was blockaded and penned in on a side street off the market. The bullies retreated inside the van with their prisoner while it was surrounded by people’s bodies and by makeshift barricades, the tires were let down, and it was pelted with rotten fruit and eggs from the market.
The Home Office thugs called in police reinforcements. They arrived with six cars of cops, plus dog vans and plainclothes cops, and a helicopter circling overhead, as the street was cordoned off. However, the crowd kept on growing as more people from the estate and nearby streets joined in, local teenagers called up their mates, others arrived seeing it on social media.
The stand off continued for over an hour, the local police clueless about what to do next. Then three vans of TSG riot cops arrived, tooled up in full body armour. The TSG pushed through, escorting the Home Office van limping out on deflated tires. They came under sustained attack as new barricades of street furniture kept getting thrown up to stop their progress and hails of rocks, bottles, road cones, etc., kept them at bay. At least one TSG cop was knocked to the floor, a riot van windscreen and other windows broken.
In the end, they managed to get their prisoner out, and also took one more arrested from the resisters. After the immigration van had got out the crowd kept blocking the TSG vans with commercial rubbish bins and other barriers to continue the fighting. Eventually, visibly shaken by the angry mob,the TSG managed to escape. After giving them a rowdy send-off, the crowd danced to a mobile sound system.
This was concerted angry action which brought together local teenagers, Aylesbury Estate residents, anarchists, and whoever was in the street and not going to take this shit lying down. If we could meet more raids with resistance like this it would seriously screw up the system of repression. This is the response we want to be growing on our streets, every day of the week.
[This is a translation of this information].
PHẢI LÀM GÌ KHI BỊ CÁN BỘ CƠ QUAN DI TRÚ CHẶN HỎI
Nếu bạn bị cán bộ cơ quan di trú hoặc cảnh sát đột nhiên chặn hỏi về tình trạng di trú của bản thân:
– Bạn KHÔNG phải trả lời bất cứ câu hỏi nào của họ.
– Bạn KHÔNG phải khai báo với họ tên hay địa chỉ của mình.
– Nói với họ rằng bạn không muốn tiếp chuyện họ.
– Giữ thái độ lịch sự và tự tin.
– Bạn có quyền chấm dứt tương tác và bước đi tiếp.
Họ không được phép quyết định chặn và tra hỏi bạn dựa trên chủng tộc của bạn. Họ chỉ có quyền chặn hỏi bạn với lý do chính đáng. Nếu họ chặn hỏi bạn dựa trên vẻ bề ngoài của bạn hay ngôn ngữ bạn sử dụng, hãy nói với họ:
“I’m busy” (“Tôi đang bận”), “This is racist” (“Đây là hành động phân biệt chủng tộc”), “I will make a complaint” (“Tôi sẽ thưa lên cơ quan chức trách”).
Nếu bạn bị bắt giữ, hãy liên lạc với cơ quan hỗ trợ tại ngoại di trú – Bail for Immigration Detainees (hoạt động độc lập) – theo số điện thoại: 020 7247 3590.
www.network23.org/antiraids @antiraids FB: Anti Raids Network
Passers-by in Peckham surrounded and challenged immigration officers earlier this month as they attempted to carry out checks on people at local shops. It is not clear exactly how the events unfolded and there are contradictory reports about whether anyone was actually detained during the operation, but what is evident is that when people step up and show each other solidarity, we can make immigration checks and raids a lot more difficult.
The following video of the incident offers a rare glimpse of the beautiful moment when often-silenced voices on the ‘debate’ on immigration come together in a message loud and clear for those in power: enough of your populist racist bullshit, enough of your demagoguery, enough of your divide-and-rule tactics — we live and work side by side one another, and we will fight for each other.
As the government promises to come down yet harder on working class migrants, we hope to see more and more popular and direct resistance to these raids, just as in Southall in 2013 and London’s West End last year.
According to information released this month via a Freedom of Information request and shared with us (refused by the Home Office but subsequently released on request for review), Enforcement Teams in London conducted 12,026 ‘visits’ to homes, businesses and other sites in 2014. Visits include both raids to arrest and detain migrants, but also information and intelligence gathering of the kind we saw in last year’s Operation Skybreaker.
This works out to an average of 33 per day – or 231 per week – across London. The now thankfully defunct TV show UK Border Force last year bragged that “London and South East Enforcement Teams carry out over 100 raids a week”.
Today the Prime Minister of the new Tory government promised to continue this war against ‘unwanted’ migrants in Britain – black & brown, and above all working class and poor – with promises to criminalise migrants working without permission, roll out landlord checks on prospective tenants, prevent people from opening bank accounts, and end immigration appeals.
The only way to answer this is widespread refusal to collaborate with the rich parasites who run this country and to show maximum solidarity with our ‘illegal’ brothers and sisters. We can share information on people’s rights, such as the multilingual information on this site. This is empowering, creates cultures of solidarity, and can protect individuals during checks and raids. However, as the government promises to enforce its policy of ‘deport first, appeal later’ (i.e., not at all), and erode more and more of our freedoms, it is not enough to focus solely on rights. Information-sharing is one tool, but not our only one.
We have a vision. A city – a country, a world – with zero tolerance for attacks and harassment by cops, home office ‘enforcers’, or private security. Where if the uniformed bullies turn up to smash someone’s door in, barge their way into a workplace, or stop people in the street, they get surrounded by neighbours and passers-by who know the score and won’t take their bullshit.
We’ve seen this happen, we’ve been part of this happening, and it’s a beautiful thing. The moments where we say: ‘No’, these are our streets, here we fight for each other. This is what we want to help grow and spread: a culture where we stand up for ourselves and for each other, a culture of defiance and solidarity. As the government ‘socially cleanses’ vast swathes of this country, let’s make this our response.
Submitted by a witness to the raid
On Monday 19 April the police and officers from Immigration Enforcement conducted raids on shops on Deptford High Street. The raid started with Agege bread, an Afro-Caribbean bakery, and then proceeded to a number of other black or asian owned businesses at the south end of the High Street. As far as I can tell, nobody was arrested or cautioned in connection with any crime. The immigration officers also failed to find anybody without documentation.
The officers gave a number of different reasons for their actions. At one shop they told staff that they wanted to check that the gas on the premises was safe, at another shop they claimed to be checking the lighting, at another they said they wanted to check whether the shop was obeying fire safety regulations. After each of these claims proved unsubstantiated, immigration officers proceeded to check the immigration status of people they found inside the shop.
Officers were reported as being rude and often refused to offer any clear answer when asked about the reasons for their actions. At one shop in particular, they completely closed it down for around 4 hours, and refused to allow the shopkeeper to leave, even though he was neither under arrest nor being held according to any other powers. When he asked to leave, they threatened him with a caution. There were also reports of officers asking at a number of shops whether the shopkeepers could give them access to the flats above. They had no warrants to search any flats on the High Street, and were very unclear about why they would want to enter the premises anyway.
After the raid I handed out information from the Anti Raids Network and spoke to shopkeepers. A common complaint was that raids on the market had been stepped up in recent years. One shop has already been raided five or six times in 2015; another shop three or four times since January. This is spoiling their business: as well as having goods seized, the presence of police and immigration officers on the market completely undermines business, and encourages customers to stay away. One shop had three employees taken away by Immigration Enforcement earlier this year. When I asked employees at a shop whether they thought immigration officers were focusing on any types of people in particular, they told me clearly that the officers only targeted black and asian people, and generally ignore white people.
In February the local Labour Party, apparently in cooperation with Lewisham Council, organised a meeting for market traders to discuss issues facing them. In attendance were the local labour councillors and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lewisham Deptford Vicky Foxcroft. First among the issues was the problem of speculative raids, which the councillors claimed were unauthorised. Traders were worried that their business was being destroyed by the actions of the police and Immigration Enforcement. Traders came away from the meeting feeling like something would be done about this by the councillors. However, nothing has changed since then, and many feel like their business will not survive if they and their customers continue to undergo harassment.
Another feeling on the market was that one reason for the increase in immigration raids over the last few months was the coming election. Traders felt that they and their customers were being punished for the racist rhetoric around immigration and refugees that has characterised public debate over the last few months.
Finally, another potential reason behind the raids is the imminent opening of a new £47 million development on the High Street this summer, the Deptford Project. The Project is planned to include “132 new homes, 14 artisan arch space workshops, 7 commercial units, 2 restaurants and a new market square.” This new build, one of a large number over the previous decade, will dramatically reconfigure the racial and class make-up of the area, and is a potential drive for the new businesses opening on the High Street (a skate shop, a bike shop/cafe, a coffee shop, the Job Centre pub, an art shop, &c). It is noticeable that none of these new businesses have been subjected to raids or check-ups on their gas, electric, or flats above their shops. It is also noticeable that their clientele is more likely to be white and middle-class. One interpretation of these raids could be that they are a purposeful attempt to undermine the economic base of minority stallholders on the market, to make it appear an even more attractive investment to real estate speculators.
At this point shopowners, traders, customers, employees and just about everyone else on the market subjected to these raids are feeling helpless. People consistently told me that they aren’t sure what they can do, or who they can talk to, to stop this happening. Many have already tried to raise complaints with official channels, and either been lied to or ignored in response. One person told me that the thing they liked most about working and living in Deptford was that people supported each other, regardless of where they were from or what the colour of their skin was. They also told me that it felt like this sense of community and openness to others was being destroyed by the raids, and that they worried about the future of the market if they are allowed to carry on.