activists sleep out in Liverpool with asylum seekers
Well, we spent out twenty four hours out. There were twenty six of us at three this morning (including about 8 asylum seekers), and it was freezing. By five, some people had to go, too cold and fed up about abuse by passing drunks spitting on us and threatening us. It was an eye-opening experience when people assumed that we were all asylum seekers and told us to 'go back to where we came from'. It made us realise how terrifying, and cold, and miserable it would be for those asylum seekers with no choice but to be on the streets, and it's not even really winter yet.
On the other hand, there was the drunk who stayed to talk for hours, at first argumentatively, and later, tucked up in a sleeping bag beside an asylum seeker from Sri Lanka. He said a fond farewell at six this morning. Three of the four young men who had swaggered over, abused us, kicked over the candles, taken our food and said 'all fucking asylum seekers should fuck off' stayed to talk and learned a fair bit. The fourth threw a brick and roped in some drunk, miserable and angry young women who were living in a hostel, to take out their anger on us. 'Why werent't we on the street for them?' So sad, but couldn't convince the that our care about asylum seekers didn't mean no care for them.
At six an ex-soldier came and talked to us. He'd been in Bosnia and said you couldn't send people back there. he knew what it was like. They would have been murdered. he signed the petition. Hundreds of people signed, even though we'd been badly organised and hadn't leafletted effectively. We expect many more signatures from the people who took away copies of the petition. The Bishop of Liverpool is willing to write a letter to send in with the petition. Louise Elman MP sent her apologies and good wishes.
At seven this morning, some more asylum seekers came and joined us, to keep us company until the end. We made the local Liverpool Echo with about a third of a page. I was interviewed live on the Roger Philips (phone-in) show on Radio Merseyside, and it the interview was repeated later in the day. Some people came into town to sign the petition after reading about us or hearing us on the radio.
Six people came over from Manchester and stayed until 4 a.m. and made us feel good. It feels almost odd to be warm again (and I had an air bed, a down sleeping bag, and seven layers on my body!) and I'm very tired, but it was a beginning, and it was worth it. Crossroads/GWS, thanks for the support. Glasgow CWR good luck on Monday.
Love from us all,