Don't be fooled! These pop-up migration protests are full of the usual suspects - Mark White

Protesters surrounding coach

Protesters surrounded the coach taking migrants to Bibby Stockholm to stop it from leaving

GB News
Mark White

By Mark White

Published: 05/05/2024

- 08:09

GB News Home Affairs Editor Mark White delivers his verdict on the latest protests in London

This week's spontaneous protest in south east London, which derailed Home Office plans to move a group of asylum seekers, was we were told an exercise in "community action" - concerned citizens, including local people taking direct action in support of the defenceless.

Don't be fooled, these pop-up protests are nothing of the kind.

They are crammed full of the usual suspects, the activist groups who have caused and continue to cause no end of disruption in the name of whichever perceived injustice they happen to muster around on any given day.

On Thursday, it was an effort to halt a bus transferring seven migrants from an asylum-seeker hotel in Peckham, to the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge in Dorset.
As direct action protests go, it was a complete success.

After almost 10 hours in which the Metropolitan police seemed to do little more than monitor and negotiate with protesters, the stalemate ended in the Home Office abandoning its attempt to move the migrants.

Members of the group, many with their faces covered, tried to convince us that what we were witnessing was the voice of the people, standing up and confronting an abuse of power.

I'd like to know what people, what community they purport to represent?

I very much doubt it was the community around this particular hotel in Peckham.

In common with hundreds of communities across the country, they've seen an important asset taken out of public use for an extended period, used instead to house asylum seekers.
Vital amenities, such as function rooms for weddings and other celebrations, are no longer available to their community from this particular hotel.

Nor would ordinary members of public have the time to suddenly turn up at a protest scene. And how would they even know a group of migrants were about to be transferred from a local hotel in the first place?

These were activists, pure and simple, plugged into their own social media alert groups, and being fed information for migrant charities and legal representatives of those asylum seekers.

In the end, the Metropolitan police made 45 arrests in Peckham for a variety of offences, but not before a number of officers were assaulted, according to Scotland Yard commanders.

In the weeks ahead, this issue is something the authorities are going to have to get a grip of.
These pop-up protests are not going away. In fact, they are set to intensify as we move closer to the date when the Government hopes to get migrant flights off the ground and heading for Rwanda.

On the same week as the Peckham protest, fellow activists mounted a number of other spontaneous demonstrations in an attempt to disrupt Immigration Enforcement officers, as they began to round up and detain those asylum seekers earmarked for deportation to east Africa.

But the police do have powers, should they wish, to intervene more rapidly to break-up these direct action protests and minimise the disruption.

In the midst of similar spontaneous protests by other activists Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion, ministers pushed through new laws, with tougher powers to ensure those blocking public highways, or targeting key buildings and infrastructure could be more quickly removed.

The police will certainly have the support of ministers if they're more robust in their dealings with this fresh wave of pop-up protests.

And despite what the activists might like you to believe, many in the local community are probably far closer to the government line on migrant removals, than the activists who purport to represent them.

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