Kenmure Street protesters rejoice as men freed following immigration van standoff

Image courtesy of Peter A Smith @PeterAdamSmith

One Glaswegian demonstrator stated: “you messed with the wrong city” after a seven-hour standoff with border force officials who tried to detain two men.

Demonstrators in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, had blocked the immigration enforcement van for hours on Thursday.

The men who were detained in an immigration van following a raid in Pollokshields earlier today have been released following a seven-hour long mass protest.

Hundreds of activists surrounded a UK Border Agency van in Kenmure Street, containing two men from a nearby property. Officers surrounded the van and lined each end of the street. Protesters chanted “these are our neighbours, let them go”.

After the standoff Police bosses stated they were releasing the men “back into their community” after a risk assessment. They then asked members of the public to disperse.

In a public statement, Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland said: “In order to protect the safety, public health and well-being of all people involved in the detention and subsequent protest in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, today, Police Scotland has, following a suitable risk assessment, taken the operational decision to release the men detained by UK Immigration Enforcement back into their community meantime.

“In order to facilitate this quickly and effectively, Police Scotland is asking members of the public to disperse from the street as soon as possible.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, also the constituency MSP for the south side, tweeted her ‘deep concern’ over the Home Office’s presence in the area, particularly while the community celebrates Eid.

Campaigners have told the Home Office “you messed with the wrong city” as two men detained in Glasgow by immigration enforcement were released after a day of protest.

Police Scotland released the two Indian nationals detained by Border Force officials in the city after people surrounded their van and prevented it from leaving on Thursday.

Demonstrators in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, had blocked the immigration enforcement van for hours, with one lying underneath the vehicle.

Around 200 protesters were at the scene, with chants of “Leave our neighbours, let them go” and “Cops go home” being heard as a ring of police stood around the van.

The news of the men’s release has been hailed as a “massive victory” on social media, with campaigners calling for Scotland to have immigration devolved to prevent a repeat of today’s protest.

Protesters present cheered and applauded as the men were released from Home Office detention.

The Stand Up To Racism campaign tweeted: “Massive victory over racist Home Office ‘dawn raid’ by the people of Pollokshields #Glasgow #solidarity forever #RefugeesWelcome this is an example for every community to follow!”

In response to the police statement, former MSP and presiding officer Tricia Marwick tweeted: “I should think so too. It is the UK enforcement agency which is the threat to public safety.”

Father of detained man thanks Glasgow protesters

The father of a man taken in the Home Office raid has told how he is “upset” and “very thankful” to protesters as Police Scotland announce they will release those being detained.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Baldev Singh told how he is “hoping for a solution” for his son Lakhvir Singh as he was detained by UK Border Agency officers in the van.

In broken English, he said: “I am very upset. My son has been taken. We are very thankful to the protesters. We hope for a solution.”

Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, was one of the hundreds of neighbours protesting against the action on Thursday.

The 54-year-old said: “We’re here against the hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state.

“The same people who run from the British and American bombs put at the back of the van right now. And they are about to be deported.

“And it’s on Eid you know … the guys are not even allowed to pray. How do you do that in a democratic society? It’s a sad day.”

Mr Asif, who left Afghanistan as a refugee in 2000, said the atmosphere among the protesters was peaceful.

Wafa Shaheen, head of services at the Scottish Refugee Council, said she was “shaken and angry” at the Home Office’s decision to “force people from their homes on the first day of Eid” and she condemned the “heavy-handed approach”.

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