Glasgow protests dawn raids

On Monday this week supporters of Unity and friends held a protest outside the UKBA Reporting Centre in Glasgow.

Early on Monday morning a group of around twenty people gathered outside the reporting centre at Festival Court on Brand Street and while some attached themselves to the gates of the centre using bicycle D-locks, others quickly erected a 15 foot high tripod in front of the vehicle access gates. It took only seconds to get the tripod up and when it was up one volunteer climbed up it determined not to come down.

Not long after the protest had started at 6.15am in the morning, members of UKBA staff started to arrive at the reporting centre. Because of the time in the morning protesters believe that these were members of the UKBA enforcement team arriving to prepare to raid another family’s home. Organisers think their protest action stopped another dawn raid as the immigration officials could not get their enforcement vehicles out of the reporting centre:-)

Security guards managed to stop the protest closing a small pedestrian entrance gate but vehicle access to and from the reporting centre was stopped for the day.

At 9.30 Strathclyde Police’s specialist climbing team arrived and the street was closed off so they could bring in the equipment they needed to remove the protestor on the tripod.

Shortly after this a support march from NCADC and the Govan & Craigton Integration Network arrived from nearby Govan to join the growing protest. By lunchtime there were easily over 100 people including many asylum seekers filling the street with people from the No Borders Network, Peace & Justice Scotland and the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees.

Throughout the day the good-natured crowd chanted and sang protest songs from Africa and Scotland.

Although they managed to quickly remove the three people who had D-locked themselves by the neck to the gates of the reporting centre, the police struggled to find space to fit the steps of the scaffolding tower they wanted to use to safely remove the person on the tripod.

As a result all they could do was to try to persuade him to climb down by himself. By mid-afternoon they had brought in police negotiators to try to persuade him to voluntarily come down and even at one point were using cigarettes to try to bribe him to come down!

All this was to no avail however and it wasn’t until staff were starting to leave for the day at 5pm that the intrepid climber gave himself up after a staggering 11 hours on the tripod having stopped all vehicles from getting in and out of the reporting centre! He was promptly arrested and taken to Helen Street Police Station in Govan.

All four people arrested were held for a very short period of time and then released on a personal undertaking not to return to Brand Street. All four were out of the police station by 8pm and have been told to attend court on 22nd December. Unity will be organising court support for them.

You can see some press coverage here
http://www.scotsman.com/the-scotsman/politics/protesters_stage_own_dawn_raid_on_border_police_headquarters_1_1978050

And a short video of the action by a local supporter here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl6hP7nNqfw

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About Pedalling Poetry

Writer Ellen McAteer is founder of Tell It Slant poetry bookshop in Glasgow, and a visiting lecturer at the Glasgow School of Art. She was a mentee of the Clydebuilt Verse Apprenticeship Scheme, under Alexander Hutchison, and a singer with the band Stone Tape, as well as a solo singer who won a BBC Radio competition with her song Blue Valentine. She was Director of the Poetry Trust, which ran the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, a director of the Scottish Writers’ Centre, a visiting lecturer at Oxford University's MSt in creative writing, and a member of the core group of performers at the Hammer and Tongue spoken word collective in Oxford. She is a qualified Librarian.
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