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Gatwick Protest: No More Immigration Prisons

No Borders | 21.04.2007 10:54 | No Border Camp 2007 | Migration | London | South Coast

Over 100 people held a lively protest in Crawley, West Sussex, on 21 April, 2007, against a new planned detention centre nearby. The protest, called by the No Borders network in the UK, aimed to show opposition to the new purpose-built Immigration Removal Centre (as it's called by the government) which is being built at Gatwick Airport. The new prison for asylum seekers will have a capacity of 420 places for male and female detainees and is another step in the Labour government's efforts to meets its target of 4,000 places in detention centres throughout the country.

The demonstration, which was mainly made of two large groups from Brighton and London, marched through Crawley town centre in the high of Saturday's shopping spree. Many leaflets were given out, informing locals about the reasons for the demonstration, whilst pointing out the fact that a new concentration camp for innocent people is about to be built on their doorsteps. Policing was relatively low but the level of surveillance and 'information gathering' was incredibly high and intimidating.

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Full Timeline

12:30pm - Some 70 protesters, mostly from Brighton, are already there, in the Jubilee Field in Three Bridges near Crawley. Three police vans and two cars could be seen, with around 15 cops and 3 surveillance cameras. But no sign (yet) of a pen, although Stuart McDonald, a well-known cop from Brighton who specialises in rounding people up and trying to extract information out of them, is there. The London coach is stuck in a big traffic jam and hasn't arrived yet. More people are expected to come from Leeds and elsewhere.

13:10pm - The London coach arrived at about 12:45 with some 30 people, including Sambaistas from the Rhythyms of Resistance samba band. The two groups met up in the Jubilee Fields and have begun marching towards Crawley. Reports suggest there are some 100 protestors and 8-10 cops. Slogans spotted on banners include "Stop this racist prison", "Free all immigrants", "Abolish false divides" and the like.

13:30pm - People are marching in Crawley town centre, with lots of attention from shoppers, some appeared "mystified". People are chanting "Close all racist prisons" and "No borders, no nations, stop deportations". Protesters have taken one side of a dual carriageway but police have closed the other side too.

13:40pm - Apparently more cops were waiting for protesters in Crawley. They are busy gathering information, taking loads of photos and video.

14:15pm - The march has stopped in a park in front of Crawley shopping centre, with more than 100 protesters. Samba rhythms of resistance and speeches, and lots of shoppers listening. Protesters had taken the road successfully and were unhindered by cops. They just 'walked them' with two vans following behind. Protesters were not 'kettled' and were able to determine the route of the march.

14:30pm - The protest is over now and people are trying to find where police had moved their coaches to. Protesters had decided not to march to Gatwick and the new detention centre's site in the middle of nowhere.

Some Background

A new purpose-built Immigration Removal Centre is planned at Gatwick Airport as part of the government's five-year strategy for asylum and immigration. The centre will be developed in partnership with BAA Lynton.

BAA Lynton, on behalf of the Airport Property Partnership, will shortly commence the process of obtaining planning consent to develop the new site, which is located within the boundary of Gatwick Airport. The Government has already seen the 'benefits' of locating removal centres close to airports, with operations at Colnbrook and Harmondsworth, near Heathrow, and at the existing centre at Gatwick, Tinsley House. The latter was also developed by BAA Lynton in a similar way to the new centre being planned.

The new centre, which is due to open in 2008, will have around 420 places for male and female detainees.

There are 10 immigration detention centres in the UK. 7 are run by private companies contracted by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), while 3 are run by the Prison Service.

As of January 2005, these prisons have a total capacity of 2,644. However, the Labour government, which inherited 700 places when it took office in 1997, aims for a total of 4,000 places.

In addition, there are many so-called Short-term Holding Facilities at many ports and airports throughout the country as well as at a number of immigration reporting centres.

No Borders


some more info about the new prison

23.04.2007 10:16

one of noborders


Hide the following 8 comments

People are on the move. 13.15

21.04.2007 12:17

The demo is now moving towards Crawley Town Centre, people from London have shown up and there are between 90 and 100 people there. The police are not preventing people from moving, but they are very busy gathering information.



21.04.2007 12:34

120 people marching down the middle of the main road in Crawley. Police numbers increasing.


14.26 Demo finnished successfully

21.04.2007 13:26

The demo is over and ppearently went well.


Do Something!

23.04.2007 22:25

BAA Lynton
65, New Bond St, London, W1S 1RN
Tel: 020 7907 9200

...................be inspired

masked bandit

I was in Gatwick 2 weeks ago and....

24.04.2007 19:36

I was in Gatwick 2 weeks ago (south of London)., flow from person with Air Transat (south of London).
I been held by the British immigration authorities form about 26 hours and after some interrogations, they kicked me back to Canada.
+ I am a refugee living in Canada, (arrived about 19 month ago).
E-mail:  shahar12000@yahoo.com
{Thanks for the sandwiches & lemon tea, it was good :-) }

Take care, Shalom,

Shahar Hlinovsky

Shahahar Hlinovsky
mail e-mail: shahar12000@yahoo.com
- Homepage: http://www.taayush.org/ - http://www.seruv.org/english/default.asp

more borders!

17.09.2007 08:46

Whilst I applaud the no border campain in many ways i do think there are massive problems with it. For one thing the worlds population is now over 6.7 billion. So as a planet we do need to think and somehow regulate the flow of human beings around this earth. If everyone decided to come to London tommorow it would be a nightmare! Yes immigration policies are sickeningly racist, but to campain under the banner of 'no borders' is naive and unfortunately will never achieve mainstream support.

I am so glad that there are activists making links with people in detention centres and supporting peoples applications into living here, however i belive this whole campagin needs to be reframed and placed in context of population growth, along side this campain we also need to put pressure on countries with poor human rights. Most people who enter this country as refugees would much rather be given the opportunity to live and work in their country of origin.

get real

Gatwick No Borders Camp 2007 – Taking Notes Regarding Police Behaviour

21.09.2007 23:27

A number of people are expected to attend the No Borders Demonstration and Camp this weekend. This has involved a considerable amount of planning and many of us are hoping that the events will have an impact on the construction of the new Detention Centre and the unjust system of Migration Controls.

I have just received an email from a Green Party Candidate, who outlines the complaint that he issued regarding the brutal behaviour of the Police during the Climate Camp 2007 at Heathrow. The response from Robert Broadhurst, the Police Commander in charge of the Policing Operation at the Climate Camp was included in the email. Furthermore, he attached a letter which was sent from a Green Party Member of the London Assembly after the Climate Camp, regarding this issue to Police Commissioner, Ian Blair. The Green Party Member is also a Member of the Metropolitan Police Authority. The Green Party Candidate also attached the ‘unhelpful reply’ from Ian Blair. After reading all the details, it does appear that Police Victimisation, Harassment and even Brutality is justified and even consented to a large extent from the high ranking officials among the Police,.

After reading the email, my feeling about the No Borders Protest Action on 22/09/2007 and the Camp throughout the weekend is that of concern. The manner in which the Police behaved at the Disarm DSEI Protest Events definitely resembles their approach at the Climate Change Protest Events. As the Police are following a trend, it is safe to say that they are being given instructions on how to handle these situations in an aggressive way. What I am pointing out is not to create fear. Instead, I am urging everyone attending the No Borders Events to be aware of the Police Agenda. We are hoping for positive results tomorrow and for the rest of the weekend and it will be a shame if the Police compromise the outcome once again. Police Photographers will obviously be present and looking to film the worse case scenarios. Although a lot of people feel the urge to be rebellious, we have to all be intelligent and give them as little negative evidence as possible.

Although I will be at the Protest Event and noting the behaviour of the Police, I am unable to stay for the rest of the weekend, as I have work to complete relating to the Disarm DSEI Events last week. All are welcome to email me concerning any experiences of Police Victimisation this weekend, as well as during the Climate Camp 2007 at Heathrow and at any of the Disarm DSEI 2007 Protest Events.

Don B.
mail e-mail: donovanbocek@yahoo.co.uk

‘No Borders, No Nations, Stop Deportation' - Gatwick 22/09/2007

26.09.2007 18:49

The No Borders Campaign has definitely got to be one of the more controversial issues tackled by independent political thinkers and activists. Just having a look at the comments added to this article, shows how heated the debates can get. The Campaign opens a whole can of worms that has a spill over effect onto other issues like equal rights, war refugees, capitalism, nationhood, the state centric system, the police, freedom of movement, the downward spiral of the developing countries and the list goes on. It is therefore not surprising that such a diverse and dynamic culture made up the No Borders 2007 Protest March and Camp. At the same time, the No Borders Campaign is on the cutting edge of just how far to the left liberalist ideals can be pushed. It truly draws the dividing line between Soft and Hard Liberalism. This particular issue is something for all those that profess to be Liberals to think about.

Many felt that there was a great turnout of people at the Demonstration this year. Various reports reflect that there were about 300 people, but some do feel it was more in the region of 350. Most of the Protesters in front were quite unaware of just how large the group was. It was only when we came around the ninety degree bend at Gatwick, that we were all pleasantly surprised to see the continual wave of protesters taking the corner. Regardless of the exact total, spirits were incredibly high throughout the march. The most popular Protest Chant was the well known ‘No Borders, No Nations, Stop Deportation’. Once again, the notorious ‘Samba Band’ did an excellent job. I wonder if they will ever record all these Protest Anthems? It would be great if they did.

The Telephonic Communication with several people in the present detention centre was incredibly moving. If anything, this connection pointed out that they are not alone and forgotten in those cells. Although the protesters are not subjected to the negative treatment that those detained have been, there was a mutual feeling of Hope. I did not stay at the Camp for the weekend, but kept in touch with people that did. Their feeling was that that the Camp went well. It was seen as an enlightening experience and the Workshops were viewed as incredibly educational.

And the Police, well they generally kept to themselves. There numbers were definitely overkill once again and there were some arrests in the beginning of the march. There behaviour was not as obnoxious and out of context as most of us in London have come to experience though. The legitimate Protest Area was way too small once again. The Police Photographers seemed to be acting from a distance as well. It was definitely great not having the infamous SCD43, Neil Sinclair around. He knows how to put a downer on any worthwhile event. The Police also seemed to refrain from their usual frantic Search and Docket intimidation tactics that so many of us have gotten used to. Protestors were also not prevented from using their own media equipment. The people at the Camp that I was in contact with reported a similar experience. Police did not appear to be interfering with the Camp Events and Workshops. They were only really seen outside of the Camp Site by the entrance points. The Search and Docket tactics of the Police were generally also not used at the Camp. There are several reasons why the Public Servants seemed to refrain from outright victimisation, as they did at Climate Change 2007 and Disarm DSEI 2007. These reasons were compiled during emails between Green Party candidate John Hunt and myself:

1. This No Borders 2007 Event was Policed by a different Police Force than Climate
Change 2007 and Disarm DSEI 2007. However, Surrey Police were part of the
wider Policing Operation at Climate Change 2007.
2. The March Format was strong, consolidated and with a larger turnout than even
expected by the Police. ‘United We Stand Divided We Fall’
3. ‘Gently, Gently’ instructions from top Police Officials following a number of
Climate Change 2007 and DSEI 2007 complaints. Although formal complaints
are often not viewed as the ‘Revolutionary’ thing to do, it does have an impact on
the freedom of the Police to be Brutal whenever they choose to be.
4. The protest action took place on the weekend and directly in the eyes of the
general public of Crawley. Very little would have happened un-noticed by them.
5. A significant number of parents in the Protest March had brought their children
with. The presence of minors and infants in a protest event does have a general
pacifying effect.
6. A controversial, but relevant factor was the strong Black Bloc and AntiFa (Militant
Anti-Fascism) presence. Although many people do not agree with these tactics, it
does balance out the intimidation factor with the Police. It is common place for
such activists to stand up to police harassment.

In conclusion, I feel that the No Borders 2007 Demonstration had a positive outcome. I’m sure that some people aimed for more and would disagree. However, there were a lot of us that were expecting the worse. At the same time, it was an excellent opportunity for a variety of people to meet and tackle a common concern. As for the apparent ‘Nationalist / Fascist’ photographer, I wonder if he got the point that none of us will ever forget where he was standing at the time. The joke is on him.

Don B.


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