Tagged: london

24th October – Migrant Solidarity Protest at London St. Pancras and Paris

This is taken direct from the blog Indyrikki and is about what happened in London at the weekend…

In 2005, the Anarchist Bookfair, held that year in Holloway Road, ended in a practical session of massive policing. The local Coronet pub, on police advice, suddenly refused to serve alcohol, and as hundreds of anarchists spilled out onto the dual carriageway, they were met with riot police geared up for local football matches. The ensuing clashes led to several arrests and injuries, although most if not all were acquitted of serious offences months down the line.

A full decade on, the bookfair today was held at the Granary Building occupied by the University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martins. While on the one hand it’s an excellent space for the bookfair, with a large and airy open area for stalls, and lots of classrooms and lecture theatres for group events, on the other it is surrounded by lots of pseudo-public space, corporatised, controlled, and covered by private regulations rather than public rights – another example of the accelerating privatisation of public space in cities across the world.

Still, this year’s event was well attended, with packed lectures and workshops and a buzzing hall of stalls.

In solidarity with actions today in both Paris and Budapest, Calais Migrant Solidarity called a “No Borders” action to take place at the Eurostar terminal in nearby St Pancras station.

So, ten years on from the Holloway Road kerfuffle, clashes seemed likely again, as huge numbers of police waited at St Pancras and a group of a couple of hundred activists, intent on reaching the Eurostar, set off along private roads shortly after 6pm.

At one of the entrances to the station, they were met by a line of police, and with sheer weight of numbers, first one, and then dozens more, squeezed their way into the station before police reinforcements regained control, after deploying metal batons.

01 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

02 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

03 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

Suddenly, the group inside the station turned back to help their comrades, and at that point things got quite messy. Activists were grabbed and pushed back through the lines on to the pavement, with some injuries and a few arrests. Police began to kit themselves in full riot gear, and they also grabbed a large red banner and threw it aside.

06 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

05 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

All the while, train travellers and other members of the public watched through locked entrances.

07 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

Deeper inside the station, police were picking out people hanging around near the Eurostar entrance, and an entirely peaceful woman was forcibly removed, dragged much of the way on her knees, before police finally picked her up and carried her. Police claimed she was being removed to prevent a breach of the peace.

08 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

Despite the massive police operation, a group of around 30 women suddenly appeared in the concourse, chanting “No human is illegal” and “No borders”, and carrying large banners.

09 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki
They set up right in front of the access point to the Eurostar departure lounge, and handed out leaflets while continuing their protest. Police Liaison Officers moved among them, and more than a dozen police soon arrived in full riot gear, but thankfully they thought better than to interfere, and the protest continued for a few more minutes before the group (who had other appointments) packed up and left.

11 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

10 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

12 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

This dignified and peaceful action was organised by ‘Global Women’s Strike’ (globalwomenstrike.net), and ‘All African Women’s Group’.

13 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki
Outside the station, the large crowd had been pushed away from the area back towards the Granary Building, and policing continued on a huge scale.

14 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

A small peaceful group of around a dozen protesters entered King’s Cross Station concourse, with a banner that said “people want to bring down the borders”.

15 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

16 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

They were confronted by several dozen police, many in riot gear, and then kettled for about an hour.

17 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

Police used Railway Bye-Laws – Sect 6 (8) – (no person shall molest or wilfully interfere with the comfort or convenience of any person on the railway), & Sect 23 – (anyone suspected of breach must give name and address), – to process, photograph and identify each protester before escorting them from the station with a 24 hour ban. A few were arrested during this time too.

19 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

Interestingly, there was an attempt before this process, for a station representative to make an announcement on a megaphone, but it wouldn’t work and no announcement was made – my feeling was that the announcement was meant to be part of a legal process and so it might be pertinent that it was never made.

18 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

One of the causes being championed by migrant solidarity groups is for the release of Abdul Rahman Haroun, a Sudanese man, who after walking through the Eurotunnel is being prosecuted under an obscure 1861 ‘Malicious Damages Act’ and has spent months in jail. Earlier this month, the same legislation was used to arrest two Iranian men in Folkestone after they had completed the 31-mile walk. Calais Migrant Solidarity are calling for the release from prison of the ‘Channel Tunnel 3’.

During the action in King’s Cross, the Harry Potter Hogwart’s platform was closed by police – surely a wilful interference with the convenience of excited Potter fans?

20 eurostar no borders protests - ©indyrikki

Paris – police evict migrant shelter the night before demonstration

In Paris, there were premptive raids by the security services at a school offering shelter to refugees and migrants. Some activists and French associations helped the police facilitate their midnight raid. Telling people that they would recieve better accommodation if they cooperated with the police.

On the demonstration itself, on the 24th  there were 700/800 people. The police attacked because they were worried people would use the demonstration to occupy a new camp. Subsequently there were two arrests and two people were hospitalized.

Support our call! Protest at St. Pancras International, 24th October!

Solidarity with Calais migrants!
Freedom for the channel tunnel walkers imprisoned in the UK!

Protest at Eurostar, St Pancras International station, London
6pm, Saturday 24th October

In Calais, up to 4000 people are currently trapped at the border. Large groups have been holding regular demonstrations at the Eurotunnel entrance there, calling for the borders to be opened and the violence to stop.

People in Calais are subject to cruel and brutal treatment by police and by private security hired by Eurotunnel, using dogs, razorwire fences and teargas. Of the 15 people killed at the border since June, many have died at the tunnel. The companies Eurostar and Eurotunnel play an active part in the violence at the border, and profit as people die and are injured. In addition, the Eurotunnel company is pressing hard for the prosecution of Abdul Rahman Haroun, the Sudanese man who walked through the tunnel in August, only to be imprisoned and charged with an obscure 19th century law. Since then, two others, Payam Moradi Mirahessari and Farein Vahdani, have made the journey through the tunnel and have been detained and prosecuted under the same law.

The ‘Refugees Welcome’ demos which took place across Europe in September showed the scale of support for migrants suffering at the borders. But if we are to show effective solidarity, we must move beyond A-B marches and direct our energies towards the institutions and corporations responsible for the so-called “migrant crisis”.

Standing in solidarity with people without papers in Calais, we call for demonstrations and actions against Eurostar, Eurotunnel and the whole border regime of which they are a part. We call for all groups and individuals in solidarity with Calais migrants to protest at Eurostar in St Pancras International station, London, N1C 4QP at 6pm on Saturday 24th October.

We make the following demands:

** Freedom for the channel tunnel walkers currently imprisoned in UK.
** Remember all those killed by Eurostar trains, Eurotunnel and Eurostar to give major compensation to their loved ones.
** Remove murderous security, dogs and fences from the tunnel.
** Ask all passengers to stop using Eurostar and Eurotunnel until all can travel freely: with or without papers, with or without tickets.
** Open the borders.

We ask groups standing in solidarity with migrants in Calais to circulate & share this call, and most importantly, come out in large numbers on 24th October.

See you there.