Hundreds of Glaswegians gathered in the Scottish city on Thursday to secure the provisional release of two men arrested by British immigration agents, garnering much praise from activists, experts, the refugee community and sections of some media outlets.
Video footage of the Kenmure street scene showed two men coming out of the back of a UK Home Office van, setting the country immigration rules, and the couple were arrested from a nearby apartment a few hours later.
The Interior Ministry said the men had been arrested for “alleged immigration offenses”.
But about 200 protests prevented immigration officials from carrying the men around the vehicle and blocking the exit route.
One protester climbed under the van to prevent him from moving, while others around him were standing and sitting on the road. Some protesters shouted, “These are our neighbors, let them go.”
Scottish police have ordered the release of two Indian men arrested by British immigration officials after blocking the path of a van carrying hundreds of protesters arrested in Glasgow. https://t.co/DBfEF12BVu pic.twitter.com/0M1hJzfr2X
– Reuters (@Reuters) May 14, 2021
Demonstrations had to stop with immigration officials and Scottish Police at the scene of the call at around 10am (09am GMT).
After about seven hours, Scottish police decided to release the men on bail, pending an investigation.
“They want to protect the safety, public health and well-being of all people involved in the arrests and subsequent protests,” they said.
Large gatherings are currently banned in Scotland as part of measures to block the coronavirus.
‘Heroic action of resistance’
Many praised the protesters ’efforts, and some called the demonstration a“ heroic act of resistance ”against the Home Office and UK immigration laws, which human rights groups have long criticized for being harshly and unjustly implemented.
The Scottish National Newspaper, which supports the idea of Scottish secession in the UK, was on the front page with a provocative headline: “Glasgow 1, ‘Team UK’: 0 – People’s Powers The Home Office is despicable for backtracking”.
Tomorrow’s cover 🗞️
‘Team UK’: 0
The power of the people forces the reprehensible Ministry of the Interior to back down pic.twitter.com/9iKn3I8IVW
– The National (@ScotNational) May 13, 2021
Under the Conservative Party governments determined to make the UK an “enemy environment” for paperless migration, rules have been tightened over the past decade.
Others said the protest was “a wonderful display of community solidarity.”
Sharing the video of the men’s release, a Twitter user said, “When we humans get excited, we are able to do great acts of solidarity like this.”
Another added: “This is horrible. A savage deportation prevented by fast and brave neighbors. Really inspiring. “
This is incredible.
Two refugees were arrested for immigration applications in Glasgow, Scotland. Neighbors and activists surrounded the arrested van until it was released. 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 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“It is reminiscent of the events in Glasgow yesterday and the widespread support for protesters and victims in the UK. There are many great and dignified people in this nation who hate Priti Patel,” he said. he said.
Blocking a Glasgow raid shows what the UK-based resistance to racism is all about: knowledge with a deep belly that we can (literally) fight and fight (literally) against the huge oppressive structures that want 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 people of Glasgow. Priti Patel looks like humanity.”
The power of the people at their best! 🌈❤️👍 well done people of Glasgow. Priti Patel looks like humanity.
– Paul Fitzgerald (@ PaulFitz58) May 13, 2021
‘Enemies around are not welcome here’
Thursday’s scenes also won the attention of some prominent Scottish politicians, revealing a deeper division between the country’s inadequate government led by Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Johnson’s administration.
Sturgeon, who wants to remove immigration powers from Westminster, welcomed the actions taken by the police in the release of the two Scottish men and blamed the Johnson administration for what he called a “dangerous situation”.
Sturgeon said the Scottish Parliamentary constituency includes the area where the incident took place, saying he had complained to UK officials and asked them to avoid such situations in the future.
The Scottish Nationalist Party, which won the most seats in the Scottish Parliamentary elections last week, has campaigned for the Scottish government to be empowered to issue immigration visas.
“There was no certainty – and there was no empathy – when I got to talk to a junior prime minister,” he said in a statement.
1 / Today’s events have come a long way @ukhomeoffice actions. @policescotland they were in poor condition; they do not help to remove asylum seekers, but they have a duty to protect public safety. They act independently of the ministers, but I accept that decision https://t.co/9SCNGa6tpy
– Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 13, 2021
Humza Yousaf, the discharged secretary of justice for the Scottish government, wrote in this tweet: “I am pleased that Scottish police have intervened for safety and public health reasons to release the people involved.
After hours of trying to disrupt the operation of the Home Office, without success, I am pleased that the Scottish Police have intervened for reasons of public safety and health to release the people involved.
Clearly, the Enemy Environment created by the UK Govt is not welcome here. pic.twitter.com/fNUcBvmHei
– Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) May 13, 2021
But the Home Office has said it will continue its plans to speed up the deportations of “illegal immigrants” in the UK, as part of the so-called New Immigration Plan.
“The UK government is tackling illegal immigration and the damage it causes, often removing the most vulnerable people who are not entitled to stay in the UK,” a department spokesman said in a statement. “The Glasgow operation was carried out in connection with alleged immigration offenses and two Indian citizens were at all times serving as civil servants.”