On Saturday 11 June, in a heroic act of solidarity, defiance, and militancy, the local working-class community of Peckham, London, gathered in Evan Cook Close to prevent the unjust deportation of a Nigerian resident.
Immigration officers were in the process of pulling the man from his home, but were halted by a rapidly-assembled protest of around two hundred people.
Led by anti-deportation activists, the crowds blocked the Home Office van in which the man was detained for hours. Surrounding the police and linking arms, workers and youth demanded his immediate release.
Chants such as “Whose streets? Our streets!”, “let him go!”, and “no justice, no peace!” echoed unceasingly throughout the housing complex, with families and elderly residents joining in from their balconies.
The people of Peckham were clear in their message: We will not tolerate – nor allow – the Tories’ racist immigration policies!
Officers tried to intimidate and repress demonstrators, attempting arrests on several occasions – mostly aimed at black protestors. But these victims were quickly pulled to safety by the rest of the crowd.
Two young women were trampled by police, and a man simply seeking to get home was physically harassed by the belligerent authorities. Yet despite their aggression, the officers were quickly thwarted through organised struggle.
In the end, after hours of standoff, officers released the targeted man on bail, and were seen returning him to his home. As the cops left with their tail between their legs, protestors shouted at the police: “Don’t come back to Peckham!”
Similarly to other recent successful anti-deportation protests in Hackney and Glasgow, this event should be seen as an important and inspiring victory; a display of what workers and youth can achieve when united and organised.
But with the Tories ramping up their repression against migrants and refugees, looking for a distraction from their own crimes, we can expect many more racist raid attempts in the coming period, as part of the government’s ‘hostile environment’ agenda.
Warning: distressing content— Ava-Santina (@AvaSantina) June 11, 2022
An immigration raid was held off in Peckham this afternoon by community action.
This was police response. pic.twitter.com/EahoEJAZdn
Recently, for example, high court judges gave the government a green light for its plans to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda, despite opposition from human-rights campaigners, alongside criticism from within the establishment itself – including Prince Charles.
As I left the recent Peckham protest, for example, trailing the empty-handed officers, I was stopped by a local mother who asked if the man had been released. Upon hearing my confirmation, she bleakly – but understandably – concluded: “They’re just going to come get him another day…This won’t really change anything.” It is unfortunate how correct she is.
The success of this action shows the potential power that workers have to resist state repression. But if we’re to put a stop to racist deportations once and for all, the movement needs to be organised and directed against the system as a whole.
The ruling class – including the bosses and the Tories – rely on racist policies and other forms of oppression to divide and weaken the working class.
And as capitalism descends ever-deeper into crisis, the capitalists and their representatives will increasingly lean on racism, xenophobia, and bigotry in order to deflect anger and divert attention away from the real enemy: them and their barbaric system.
On the other side, as workers – both migrant and British-born – are pressed, exploited, and attacked further and further, we will see even more of these militant struggles: against the bosses; against the Tories; and against the capitalist state that protects their profits and privileges.
Whether they intend it or not, Boris and his criminal government of Tory goons are pushing and provoking workers and youth into fighting back and taking action. And the lessons of Peckham are clear: to win, our movement needs bold and militant tactics.
Most importantly, we need to be armed with a clear socialist programme. The solidarity seen in Peckham, Hackney, Glasgow, and elsewhere is truly inspiring. But small, isolated victories are not enough. We must tackle the problem at its rotten roots.
If we truly want to defend migrants, refugees, and all workers against the oppression and exploitation of the bosses and Tories, we must organise and unite on a class basis, and fight to overthrow this criminal government and the system they represent – the system that breeds this violence, injustice, and discrimination: capitalism.
Solidarity with the victims of the Tories’ hostile environment!
Down with racist immigration rules! Down with capitalism!
Workers of the world: Unite! One solution: Revolution!