Border enforcement raids have become a regular fixture in Britain, taking to your bike to provide an alternative escort is just one effective way of protecting our communities. Instead of powerlessly scrolling through their depressing political newsfeeds, a group of Londoners got on their bikes yesterday in a formation of solidarity and everyday activism. Encircling an immigration enforcement vehicle on its way to carry out a raid, the cyclists carried a banner emblazoned with the message “STOP RACIST VANS” through the capital. The convoy aimed to raise awareness of the existence of these vans, and to disrupt the daily missions to round people up and detain them indefinitely. And it’s about time too. Immigration enforcement officials work by attempting to infiltrate neighbourhoods, trying to force their way into homes and businesses. Calling attention to raids in such a way as to remind officers that fear mongering will not be tolerated is a way to provide resistance peacefully and simply (…) Officers work in groups, sometimes with plain-clothes police, and while UKBA numbers should be displayed on their shoulders, they are often covered up to avoid detection. Raids can occur at workplaces and homes, as well as spot checks at underground and bus stations, a practice that has been accused of racial profiling. Acting when officers are attempting a raid is the most critical time to intervene, as it is much easier to prevent immigration detention than it is to support detainees once imprisoned, or contest for their release in court. Activist groups like the Anti Raids Network collate information when raids are kicking off, and they’ll spread the word to get boots on the ground. If you see someone being stopped by UKBA officers, or police on immigration grounds, you can make the person immediately aware that according to their rights, they do not have to answer questions, and you can leave the scene with them. Recording the police is an effective deterrent, but ask permission to film the person being questioned if possible.
Briony Cartmell in Cyclists surround immigration removal vans to stop racist raids (Huck)