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POLICE in Glasgow were forced to release two asylum-seekers today after a large crowd prevented immigration enforcement officers from completing an eviction operation.
Officers removed two men from their home in the Pollokshields area of the city in the morning, but campaigners surrounded the officers’ van to prevent them from leaving.
One protester was able to crawl underneath the vehicle to ensure that it didn’t move and a large crowd gathered throughout the day, with numbers swelling to several hundred by the evening.
Police continually asked protesters to maintain social distancing but repeatedly shoved members of the public and journalists.
In a statement released as the Star went to press, Police Scotland eventually confirmed that the men detained by UK Immigration Enforcement would be released back into the community for the time being, citing “the safety, public health and wellbeing of all people involved in the detention and subsequent protest.”
They were then seen being led out of the back of the vehicle, which was celebrated by large numbers still gathered at the scene.
The operation was widely condemned by politicians of all stripes, with First Minister and local MSP Nicola Sturgeon having urged the police to withdraw.
Shortly after being sworn in as an MSP, she posted on social media: “As constituency MSP, I am deeply concerned by this action by the Home Office, especially today in the heart of a community celebrating Eid.”
Police defended the van holding the two men throughout the protest, but cops’ attempts to push through protesters and journalists were resisted.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar offered solidarity, adding: “These are deeply troubling scenes from Glasgow.
“It is unacceptable that the Home Office is evicting vulnerable people in the midst of a pandemic.
“We need an immigration policy that is based on human dignity and human rights above all else.”
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie slammed the Home Office and stated that Scotland must build an asylum system worthy of the name.
“It’s horrific that people have been forced to take such action to defend their most vulnerable neighbours from the brutality of the UK Home Office,” he said.
“The current regime, presided over by the institutionally racist Home Office, is inhumane.”
A number of local councillors from the SNP, Labour and the Greens, who were present throughout the day, had also called for both the police and Home Office to withdraw.
And STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “The scenes unfolding at Kenmure Street are nothing short of disgraceful. The forced eviction and detainment of asylum-seekers, on Eid of all days, shows the contempt and cruelty levelled by the Westminster government to those seeking asylum.
“The STUC applauds all who went out today to support their neighbours and resist immigration raids and deportations.”
Police Scotland had denied assisting in the eviction of an asylum-seeker, with a spokesman telling the Star: “Officers are at the scene to police the protest and to ensure public safety.”
The Home Office did not respond to requests for comment.
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