Scorsby was on the ground at yesterday’s spectacular, and successful, effort to deter an immigration raid in Edinburgh.
At around a quarter to six the first call-outs began. An immigration raid van had been spotted outside a popular restaurant in the centre of Edinburgh and people were calling for assistance. By 7.30pm over two hundred people had gathered, with more flooding in all the time. The vans were surrounded and blockaded and the police, while present, had informed the immigration cops that they did not have the power to disperse the crowds. By 9pm we had won. After negotiations, the officers agreed to de-arrest the workers they had detained and to leave in their vans. Under close observation by the crowd, ready to move fast if any subterfuge took place, the immigration officers slunk away in the police cars, abandoning their own vans for the time being.
This was the will of the people in action and the irony of it taking place on the day that people were voting in local elections in order to “have their voice heard” does not escape me. The mood was jovial, yet fierce. With support and direction from Edinburgh’s Anti-Raids Network, who circulated the original call-out, people mobilised swiftly, self-organising in order to gather snacks, water bottles, and face-masks from nearby shops and distributed them among the protesters – many of whom had come straight there, without packing warm clothing or other needed supplies. Legal observers turned up promptly, monitoring the police and blue bibs, advising people to stay masked up and to not talk to any of the cops. Members of the Scottish Community and Activist Legal Project (SCALP), handed out bust cards and people scrawled key numbers on their arms, sharing pens and advice with each other freely.
As someone who has not been in Scotland for long and does not know many people, the support and solidarity among the people gathered outside the restaurant can not be overstated. People came not because of a specific niche political allegiance or in order to get kudos (indeed people were frequently reminded not to share photographs which showed faces) but because the Home Office are scum and deportations are violence and we, collectively, will not stand for it.
The organisation of the resistance was swift, yet informal, co-ordinated through Edinburgh’s Anti-Raid Network. Phonetrees and twitter posts were utilised to share information throughout the duration of the raid (some heroes were there for a full three hours and let me tell you an Edinburgh night is still extremely chilly). Updates were shared both through social media and through the use of a megaphone and people moving among the crowds. Chants and clapping kept people’s energy up and the sense of collective emotion strong. There was no complex bureaucracy, no singular sense of the “right way to go about things”, there was just a deep communal desire to act together in favour of humanity. And we won.
This is of course not the first time this has happened in Scotland, as we have reported before, there was a beautiful, successful immigration raid resistance in Glasgow in 2021, echoing the similarly emotive East Street Riot of 2015. I did not think this could necessarily occur in Edinburgh in the same way, lacking the historic radical ethos of Scotland’s sister city, but I couldn’t be more delighted and moved to be proved wrong.
The means by which the protest was organised and shared was simple and effective. And this can be replicated, and should be replicated, throughout the country. This oughtn’t be seen as a solely Scottish occurrence (though I hope for many more similar successes here) but a model for raid resistance everywhere.
If you don’t already have a local Anti-Raids phone tree or working group, set one up. Link up with local Legal Observers and activist legal support organisations. Distribute flyers and bust cards. Hand out snacks, masks, and bottles of water. Show up. Everyone can do something. We have shown again and again our strength in numbers and in our will for a better world. Lets make it happen.
For more check out this Edinburgh antri-raids summary.