At around 7.30pm Saturday night, just as the Anti Raids benefit gig was getting underway, UKBA officers poured out of three vans and raided an off-licence in Whitechapel. Activists who were at the scene informed those present of their rights and passed on solicitors’ details in the event on an arrest.
The officers were incredibly rude, sarcastic and unprofessional towards everyone present. They attempted to force the activists to leave because they were ‘closing the shop’ (on the dubious basis of search and entry powers under s28B Immigration Act 1971) even though those present were simply informing people of their rights and had the consent of the shop keeper to remain on the premises. They threatened the activists with arrest for obstruction and called the police. As there was clearly no obstruction being caused, the police didn’t do anything.
The immigration officers took one man upstairs out of view for questioning, and since they physically obstructed anyone else from going upstairs after him, activists were unable to tell him anything. The man was later arrested.
This incident gave us a glimpse of the disgusting treatment the UKBA dish out to migrants on a daily basis. They are, without a doubt, given carte blanche to treat people as they want; since many people they mistreat are deported, they are unable to kick up a fuss.
We have also just heard that the UKBA had been conducting street checks on Commercial Street in Whitechapel earlier that night.
Time to step up the vigilance!