On 31 July, a day after the raid tactics of UKBA officers at Kensal Green station, Martin Francis and Shahrar Ali of Brent Green Party were out in force in the early morning rush hour. We distributed several hundred public information leaflets, straight into the hands of the Kensal commuters. Many had witnessed the “threatening” and “intimidating” actions of the officers the day before and were gratified to find us both remonstrating about it and providing them with a mini briefing on their rights when stopped by the UKBA under such circumstances. A mobile coffee shop vendor confirmed how sustained the officers’ exercise had been the morning before. An employee of the station also expressed her alarm at the suddenness of it all, “without forewarning even them”.
These are interesting times, alas, often for all the wrong reasons. How can we abide by the extraordinarily wicked tactics of a government seeking to justify racist slogans on vans? In whichever year they had appeared there could be no mitigating context for them. How can we allow the UKBA to terrorise its citizens in this way? Yesterday, I commented that the People of Brent will not stand for it. There was certainly indignation, mixed with incredulity, still evident in the hearts of right-thinking commuters at what happened the day before.
The community must remain especially vigilant against these affronts to our civil liberties, today, tomorrow, always. The use of state apparatus to target foreigners or foreign-looking people, under the pretext of immigration control, harms all of us. We have most to fear from fear itself. Recent structural changes to the UKBA, advertised on the website as the hiving off of the law enforcement division into a separate unit that gets “tough on those who break our immigration laws”, require greater scrutiny by the public. The statements solicited yesterday by local journalists that the UKBA were exercising “reasonable suspicion” gives the lie to any pretence of an intelligence-led approach that they are duty-bound to adhere to. See “Immigration officers target commuters in “insenstive” operation” and “Immigration officers accused of intimidating train passengers at Kensal Green station“. Today, an eye-witness writes “What was the Border Agency doing at Kensal Green station?” (New Statesman).
Our leaflet is available to view below or download here.