Tassia Kobylinska, a resident of Hackney, describes how the scene on Saturday when the community quickly mobilised to resist a police immigration raid targeting food delivery workers
On Saturday evening coming out of Dalston Kingsland train station, I witnessed the spectacle of several police cars and vans tearing down Kingsland High Street, blues and twos at full force and screeching to a halt by McDonalds on the corner of Ashwin Street and Kingsland High Street, and blocking off the road from Dalston Junction to Dalston Kingsland station.
Ashwin Street is the site of food delivery drivers, who as members of IWGB, organised Justice for Delivery Drivers, an active campaign fighting the appalling working conditions and exploitation by apps such as Deliveroo and the companies that use them. Just last February Hackney police targeted these delivery drivers arresting eight and handing out fines.
Heading down there I walked straight into a man being truncheoned about the head falling to the ground, who by the time he got up already had several raised bruises on his forehead.
This scene along with many others portraying violent police assaults started circulating immediately on social media with callouts for resistance to a suspected immigration raid which brought hundreds from the local community to the site.
This is why an operation of 20 officers ‘targeting e-scooter and moped-based offences’, as claimed by the police in a statement, escalated to around 100 police piling out of flashing cars and vans, charging an angry crowd of spontaneous protestors with batons and fists, was eventually driven away by an angry show of resistance by a community already at breaking point with the Hackney police. Chants of “Fuck the police” and “let them go” rang out at the receding officers.
In March, at the end of an angry online public meeting with Hackney’s borough commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett, in the wake of the news of the treatment of Child Q, the 250+ attendees were promised regular public meetings to continue a ‘conversation’ about police relations with the community. To date this has not happened. What has happened is a different kind of ‘conversation’, a demonstration of brute force by a beleaguered Stoke Newington police station which seems desperate to wrestle back control and authority over residents of a borough who will not take any more of the racist policing and threaten withdrawal of consent.
The police deny they were there to carry out immigration raids, and just happened upon delivery drivers known for “several immigration offences” and so just had to arrest three of them. But the residents of this borough know differently. Just as the people of Kenmure Street in Glasgow and Edinburgh’s Nicholson Square successfully resisted the forcible removal of their neighbours, the people of Dalston forced the police into retreat.
In a borough already suffering widespread hostile racist profiling and excessive abuse of Section 60 stop and search powers, and the permissive culture of hate and violence under Priti Patel's vicious immigration rules, the chants of “fuck the police” and “let them go” demonstrate that our community will not stand by.
One driver was arrested for immigration offences and two managed to get away in the chaos. At the time of writing, it is believed that seven people are being detained at Stoke Newington police station and a further 2 in Leyton.
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