An ill-advised immigration raid launched on a sunny Saturday in Dalston, London turned ugly yesterday after police officers attacked large crowds who’d turned out to oppose it.
The high street raid, which kicked off at around half-six as people thronged the street getting dinner or going out for the evening, was picked up almost immediately and sent through various anti-raid networks, with locals rapidly mobilising in opposition.
One witness, James, told Freedom:
“I was nearby with some other people when we got the message about the raid and maybe 40 or 50 people walked down there. When I arrived there were about 15 police who were seizing a moped and talking to one other guy, also on a moped, in the area behind McDonalds where the riders congregate. People had already successfully intervened by standing on Kingsland Road, warning riders to avoid the area.
“The cops kept on talking to their only target quite calmly for a good half an hour, but things escalated when an officer tried to grab his phone, people shouted and closed in and suddenly the rest of the cops dived in really violently and they were quickly fully surrounded. The man got away, but cops chased and grabbed him with batons drawn, fists flying and violently pushing at the people who had completely surrounded them.”
Another witness, A. Kong, continues:
“The raid consisted of what the police insisted was a normal ‘traffic operation,’ however to carry out this operation they had 15 police officers down a back alley intimidating three Deliveroo drivers into providing extensive information about themselves, the status of their vehicles and most of all their immigration status.
“One of the drivers escaped amid the gathering crowd and police rapidly escalated the situation, pulling out their batons and even injuring some protesters. They then proceeded to try and move one of the drivers into a vehicle on the main high street which was blocked by protesters linking arms.
“The police began to continually request backup until there were what appeared to be more than 100 officers. They projected a ridiculously large presence and the situation rapidly escalated as they spread out to occupy as much of the road as they could, arbitrarily accosting protesters at random.
“They were able to detain between seven and nine people through this ridiculous display of force, but it quickly backfired when the protestors gained hundreds in numbers from the local community expressing an extremely diverse range of people coming together to push back this ridiculous police presence.
“A good few people were heard shouting “we don’t need you here” to the police and eventually the cops had to all scramble into their cars and vans as the people of Dalston marched them out of their community.”
After years of declining faith in the Met and following incidents such as the murder of Sarah Everard and strip search of child Q, the crowd that gathered was unimpressed with the mob-handed police presence, chanting “no justice, no peace.” Escalation from the Met followed swiftly as they attacked people and punched a detained man in the face while he was on the ground.
Nine people were arrested during the incident, seven being taken to Stoke Newington station and two to Leyton, and at the time of writing some are still detained. Legal support group GBC is (this Sunday) looking for people to do arrestee support in East London. Call 07946 541 511, you don’t need to have done it before.
In a statement, Hackney Police said the operation had been targeting “moped-enabled crime” and had detained one person for immigration offences, while others were arrested for violent disorder. The force claimed extensive footage which emerged on Twitter did not necessarily provide a “full and accurate picture.”
The mass action follows on from a similar response in Edinburgh earlier this month, which saw an immigration raid turned away around Nicholson Square.