Following the European call for action on April 2nd, a wide coalition of anti-racist groups joined up for a local demo from Clerkenwell to Haggerston Park. About 1,000 people marched through Hackney in bright sunlight, led by the Rhythms of Resistance samba band, greeted by locals and swapping agitprop.
A letter was delivered to Communication House, one of the immigration holding prisons, where people must report regularly and are often detained for immediate deportation completely unprepared.
The demo in London was part of the first UK-wide, decentralised, but synchronised action day for a radical and uncompromising "no" to immigration controls: People in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Nottingham, Oxford and Canterbury were out in the streets simultaneously and made clear that they don't think what the Tories think. For the first time, people with very different political cultures had mobilised together: the National Coalition of Anti-deportation Campaigns and the campaigns against detention centers along with committees to defend asylum seekers, direct action groups, trade unions, political and community migrant groups, noborder activists.
Following a European call for action on April 2nd, a wide coalition of anti-racist and anti-deportantion groups joined up for a local demo from Clerkenwell to Haggerston Park. The march was as varied as the groups who participated:
From the pink and silver Rhythms of Resistance crew, supported by a contingent of Rhythms of Resistance Sheffield, to the placards of the Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers, from the bright red banners of the International Federation of Iraqui Refugees to the battered old banner of the Jewish Socialist group and the lovingly crafted banner of the Hackney Refugee and Migrant Support Group and many more. Barbed Wire Britain was there as well as the Voice Refugee forum, people from the no one is illegal manifesto group, the institute for autonomy, the noborder group, various anti-detention center campaigns and campaigns for individual immigrants threatened with deportation.
Queers without borders had recovered from their Sodexho pirating adventure the day before. The soapbox soundsystem provided speakers and music, people from the precarity assembly brought hand-printed noborder t-shirts. The Iranian Peoples' Struggle Defence Committee and the Halkevi Kurdish and Turkish Community Association, BG-BEN, the Frassanito Network, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the Refugee Project, National Union of Journalists, Respect Party, Peace & Progress Party, London Anti-Authoritarians, and BRAIN supported the mobilisation.
As usual, there were far too many cops in bright yellow, taking pictures and making sure that we marched fast enough and didn't leave the strip of road assigned to us.
Marching through Hackney Road in bright sunshine, the cheerful demo was greeted by many locals looking out of their windows or passing by, most of them accepted a copy of the no one is illegal broadsheet or some of the other leaflets.
On arrival in Haggerston Park, the demo turned into a small festival, with reggae and picnic and some speeches. We were not many, maybe 1,000. And we were, like so often, "the converted", convinced that yes, immigration controls are racist. But we knew that we were just one of dozens of demos all over Europe - check out the global project website for audio reports. Although I had heard some of the things that were said in the speeches before, I realised once more that there is much more that I don't know and can only learn from being in touch with as many different "converted" as possible.
This little demo in London was part of a first for the UK: A decentralised, but synchronised action day for a radical and uncompromising "no" to immigration controls.
We have many campaigns for individual immigrants who are facing deportation, and the National Coalition of Anti-deportation Campaigns keeps everyone who wants to know updated about them. We have action groups against the big detention centers in the UK, working together in Barbed Wire Britain. We have many local noborder activists who are bringing the statement "no one is illegal" into the public sphere, through video screenings and noborder events, direct action and banners. We have a well thought-out no one is illegal manifesto. And, being in London, we have the possibility to link up with hundreds of migrant community groups.
This small demo in London was part of one step towards a much wider noborder movement in the UK, a step towards a network where different communities will communicate their struggles and come together in resistance against a system of controls that affects not only those who migrate.
Facing the blatantly racist election campaigns from both Tories and New Labour, facing new immigration laws and a government that congratulates itself for reducing the number of asylum seekers, facing media that play on these politics of fear, on the horrifically hypocrite mythology of the asylum seeker living in luxury on the back of the native poor, we need such a network, and we need to learn a language to say clearly to everyone: noone is illegal!