Hundreds of Glaswegians gathered in the Scottish town on Thursday to secure the provisional release of two men who had been detained by British immigration officials, drawing praise from campaigners, experts, the refugee community and certain sections of the media.
Video footage of the Kenmure Street scene showed two men emerging from the back of a van belonging to the UK Home Office, which sets the country’s immigration rules, hours after the couple were reportedly detained in an apartment in the area.
The Home Office said the men were arrested for “suspected immigration offenses”.
But around 200 protesters prevented immigration officials from removing the men by surrounding the vehicle and blocking its way out.
A protester climbed under the van to keep it from moving, while others nearby stood up and sat on the road. Some protesters chanted: “These are our neighbors, let them go.”
Scottish police have ordered the release of two Indians who had been arrested by British immigration officers, after hundreds of protesters in Glasgow blocked the path of a van carrying the detainees. https://t.co/DBfEF12BVu pic.twitter.com/0M1hJzfr2X
– Reuters (@Reuters) May 14, 2021
The protest forced an impasse with immigration officials and Scottish police, who were called to the scene around 10 a.m. local time (9 a.m. GMT).
After around seven hours, Scottish police decided to release the men on bail, pending an investigation.
They said they wanted to “protect the safety, public health and well-being of all those involved in the detention and the protests that followed.”
Large gatherings are currently banned in Scotland under coronavirus lockdown measures.
“ Heroic act of resistance ”
Many celebrated the protesters’ efforts, with some calling the protest a “heroic act of resistance” against the Home Office and Britain’s immigration laws, which have long been criticized by human rights groups like being unduly severe and unfairly applied.
The national newspaper in Scotland, which supports the idea of Scottish secession from the UK, ran a provocative front-page headline: ‘Glasgow 1,’ Team UK ‘: 0 – People’s power compels the Department of contemptible interior to retreat. “
The first page of tomorrow 🗞️
‘United Kingdom Team’: 0
People’s power forces despicable interior ministry to back down pic.twitter.com/9iKn3I8IVW
– The National (@ScotNational) May 13, 2021
Under successive Conservative Party governments determined to make the UK a “hostile environment” for undocumented migration, the rules have been tightened over the past decade.
Others described the protest as a “fantastic demonstration of community solidarity”.
Sharing a video of the men’s outing, one Twitter user said, “When we humans put our minds into it, we are capable of such magnificent acts of solidarity.”
Another added: “It’s amazing. A brutal deportation prevented by lively and courageous neighbors. Truly inspiring. “
Two refugees have been detained by immigration police in Glasgow, Scotland. Neighbors and activists surrounded the van they were being held in until their release. pic.twitter.com/v5sRhVq7gh
– Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) May 13, 2021
Many social media users have also criticized UK Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Conservative Party government of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“Yesterday’s events in Glasgow and the widespread support for protesters and victims across the UK are a useful reminder, that there are so many great and decent people in this country who hate hateful anti-migrant policies by Priti Patel ”, a Twitter user. mentionned.
The blocking of a raid in Glasgow shows what the anti-racist resistance of the base in the UK is based on: a deep and deep knowledge that we can and must fight (literally) against huge structures of oppression that seek to divide our communities. No justice, no peace ✊🏽
– Leah Cowan (@La_Cowan) May 14, 2021
Another said: “People’s power at its best! Well done to the people of Glasgow. Priti Patel, this is what humanity looks like.
People’s power at its best! 🌈❤️👍 bravo to the people of Glasgow. Priti Patel, this is what humanity looks like.
– Paul Fitzgerald (@ PaulFitz58) May 13, 2021
‘Hostile environment not welcome here’
Thursday’s scenes also caught the attention of several prominent Scottish politicians, revealing a growing rift between the country’s decentralized government, led by Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and Johnson’s administration.
Sturgeon, who wants to wrest immigration powers from Westminster, praised the actions of the Scottish Police in releasing the two men and blamed Johnson’s government for what she called a ‘dangerous situation’.
Sturgeon, whose constituency for the Scottish Parliament includes the area where the incident took place, also said she had complained to UK officials and asked them to avoid such situations in the future.
His independence Scottish National Party, which won the most seats in a Scottish Parliament election last week, campaigned for the Scottish government to be given the power to grant immigration visas.
“No assurance was given – and frankly no empathy demonstrated – when I managed to speak to a young minister earlier,” she said in a statement.
1 / Today’s events boil down entirely to @ukhomeoffice Actions. @policescotland were in an unpleasant position – they do not help deport asylum seekers but have a duty to protect public safety. They act independently of ministers, but I support this decision https://t.co/9SCNGa6tpy
– Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 13, 2021
Humza Yousaf, the justice secretary for the devolved Scottish government, tweeted: ‘I am glad the Scottish Police have stepped in on public health and safety grounds to free those involved. But let me be clear, the harsh environment created by the UK government is not welcome here. “
After spending hours trying to get the Home Office to go out of business, without success, I am glad the Scottish Police have stepped in on public health and safety grounds to free those involved.
But let me be clear, the harsh environment created by the UK government is not welcome here. pic.twitter.com/fNUcBvmHei
– Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) May 13, 2021
But the Home Office said it would continue with plans to speed up deportations of “those who have entered the UK illegally” as part of its so-called new immigration plan.
“The UK government is tackling illegal immigration and the damage it causes, often to the most vulnerable by deporting those who do not have the right to be in the UK,” said a spokesperson. word of the department in a press release. “The operation in Glasgow was carried out in connection with alleged immigration offenses and both Indian nationals have complied with officers at all times.”