Africa House raided

At about 9.15 this morning Africa House was raided by a combined force of CRS, PAF and Police Nationale. No Borders activists had been on the scene since last night, and were able to give the Africans a few seconds’ advance warning of the raid, which meant that some migrants were able to avoid arrest.

One No Borders activist standing on the wall was slapped by CRS in an attempt to make him get down. About eight cops then came over the wall and started to round up activists and tried to stop them filming whilst others went to the front gate and removed the barricade, allowing the main force to enter the compound. At this point there were three vans overall ; about 25 cops came in and started arresting migrants. The No Borders activists were passported and led outside individually. Some made trouble for the CRS by repeatedly kicking the gate open whilst others went round the back to watch the cops stationed at the back wall.

After a while two arrest busses arrived and started to remove the arrestees, presumably to the detention centre at Cocquelles where they will be detained for 24 hours and released. Everything seemed to be quieting down and an unmarked white van carrying equipment was driven off by a PAF officer – the registration plate was 9671VF62.

The CRS van at the back wall followed soon after, giving No Borders activists and a photo journalist a chance to look over the wall and watch two more arrest busses being loaded up by CRS inside the compound. At this point , things got particularly nasty. Although the CRS were made to admit that standing on the pallette looking over the wall put us on public, not private land, officers made repeated attempts to hit us or grab us from the other side. The journalist was assaulted by a cop with a baton, but although he was hit several times he refused to get down. An activist was punched hard in the knuckles as he hung onto the wall, and his camera phone was knocked away and smashed. Police then started throwing shoes, rocks and at one point a large, heavy plastic road-block section at the photo journalist, trying to knock him off the pallette.

Obviously this was a completely disproportionate response to our presence at the scene, as everyone apart from the cops had been completely non-violent throughout the incident. However, during this huge and thorough raid only about 25 arrests were made, thanks to the early warning we gave the Africans and our constant low level interference in the Police operation.