After demonstrators blocked immigration officers’ vehicle in Peckham, south-east London, a Nigerian man arrested for immigration offenses was released on bail.
Over 200 demonstrators gathered at the spot on Saturday, June 11, for hours to prevent the vehicle in which the Nigerian guy was being transferred from leaving, according to the Guardian UK.
Protesters sat on the ground in front of the vehicle in Peckham, according to a video shared online, while members of the public stood and shouted “let him go” in another film.
Metropolitan police officers were called to Evan Cook Close, near Queens Road train station, shortly after 1.30pm “to a report of protesters obstructing immigration officers” and said officers remained at the scene shortly before 5pm.
It was gathered that the Nigerian man, who was suspected of overstaying his visa, was released on immigration bail.
A spokesperson for the force said: “Officers attended and found a van was being prevented from leaving the location. One man has been arrested for immigration offences.”
The Met later said the man was arrested by immigration enforcement officers and has since been released on bail.
Footage circulated on social media and was given to journalists of police at the protest, where officers are seen to be pushing members of the crowd.
The Met did not comment when asked on allegations by demonstrators of heavy-handed tactics by some officers to remove some of the protesters who were sitting down in front of the van.
Eleanor Janega, 39, from south-east London, told the PA news agency: “We were alerted that there was an immigration raid in process so locals came down to block it. We had been sitting here blocking the van and having ice lollies. They brought more police in and tried to break through the crowd by pushing us. We all sat down.”
Reginald Popoola, a local Labour councillor, said people had “encircled the van peacefully” but that some were pushed during the demonstration. He’s being released, peaceful protest is powerful”
Claudia Webbe, the independent MP for Leicester East, commended the protesters’ “humanity and solidarity” on Twitter.
“This is people power – so beautiful to see.” she tweeted.
The organisation Lewisham Anti-Raids tweeted: “After 4 hours of resistance and a crowd of 200 people they’re letting our neighbour go! People power wins. We’re shouting ‘don’t come back to Peckham!”
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “Preventing immigration enforcement teams from doing their job is unacceptable. Blocking or obstructing them will not deter them from undertaking the duties that the public rightly expect them to carry out.”