On Thursday 21st April, 3 Immigration Enforcement vans (one unmarked) arrived in Deptford around 9am. They raided numerous shops, handcuffing and arresting 6 people from three of these businesses. The raids continued until around midday. Raids frequently occur on the High Street, but they often strike very early in the morning and rarely are they so protracted as they were on Thursday.
The immigration officers wore plain clothes to avoid alerting people to their presence. They were also supported by police community support officers (PCSOs), who had clearly been gathering intelligence to help immigration officers identify people who were working in the shops. PCSOs attempt to present the ‘friendly face’ of policing, using this persona to engage people in conversation and gather intelligence for officers to act on at a later date.
A handful of locals gathered and shouted at the officers, rightly accusing them of racism, while others tried to physically block the vans, delaying their departure for some time, but more people need to show solidarity if we are to kick the ‘racist vans’ out of Deptford for good!
People from Deptford Anti Raids – who run a stall every weekend on the market – have since been out on the High Street, leafleting from shop to shop and inviting shopkeepers and residents to a public meeting on the square.