STREET activists in Walworth, south London last Sunday, 21st June, engaged in a fight with police and officers of the UK Borders Agency to try to stop a shop worker suspected of being an illegal immigrant being seized and taken into detention.
They call themselves the Anti Raids Network and took action when the UKBA officers and police arrived to make random raids in the area. The police had already seized one man working in a local shop and put him in a van.
People blockaded the van, which was parked on a small side street, climbing onto it, putting wheelie bins and their bikes in front of it and letting the air in the tires down and pelting it with fruit and eggs from the market up the road.
Police reinforcements including a dog unit and three vans full of Territorial Support Group (TSG) “riot cops” in full body armour were called in with dogs.
The cops and dogs were pretty intimidating, but people weren't afraid to shout at them and do a bit of jostling. Still, the cops managed to push people away from in front of the UKBA bus, clearing a path.
Once the UKBA van had got away, the anger of the crowd was palpable and it turned on the police; traffic cones, glass bottles and even bricks were hurled at them
Sensing the mood, the police tried to make a quick exit, but people blocked their vans. They moved on foot for about 500 metres, getting more traffic cones and bottles hurled at them and wheelie bins pushed at them.
One police officer was hit in the neck by a flying traffic cone and had to be helped into a police van by his colleagues. Eventually the police got into a wide enough street and could drive off.
The police arrested a man who got in their way, "on suspicion of violent disorder, assault on police, criminal damage and animal cruelty". There was a protest outside Walworth police station through the night calling for his release.
The crowd grew throughout the protest as people came from surrounding streets to see what was going on. By the end there were probably to at least a hundred taking the opportunity to join in with abusing the police.
One activist told a reporter that they had witnessed another UKBA raid in Walworth on Friday. "They're targeting Walworth. But seeing this reaction today, they're not going to try it again. The police and UKBA had a really tough time.”
Once the police had left, everyone went round tidying up the road moving wheelie bins back, moving traffic cones and plastic barriers. Then everyone had a bit of a dance.