Yesterday the Metropolitan Police faced a lively and spontaneous protest as they harassed delivery drivers. The police claimed that they were out to catch “e-scooters and moped enabled-crime”, however eye witnesses reported that the police’s real objective seemed to be stopping food delivery drivers and grilling them over their immigration status.
In response to this a large crowd gathered and attempted to obstruct the police and prevent them from arresting delivery drivers. The police called in backup and started attacking and manhandling protestors, reacting to unexpected peaceful civil disobedience with the Met’s trademark mix on panic and violence. Several protestors were beaten and at least six were arrested at the protest, with another arrested later.
The police also arrested at least one delivery driver, but according to the IWGB union that driver was later released, and two others got away due to the protest preventing the police from carrying out their plan. A similar action also stopped an immigration raid in Edinburgh this May, with hundreds blocking Home Office vans and forcing the operation to be called off.
Such grass roots direct action against the UK’s racist border regime, by the communities effected by it, is heart-warming in these dark times, and a reminder that we are not powerless against the British state if we choose to resist. Migrants have been the scapegoat for our problems for decades, and a procession of corrupt governments have attempted to shift blame from themselves onto this vulnerable minority. With the government’s latest bit to make our immigration system even more inhumane, deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda, we need more such resistance to show that their cruelty will not be ignored.
Another important context that this police operation takes place in is that of continued campaigns by delivery drivers for better pay and conditions at work. Over the last few months the IWGB union has launched three actions in Hackney, boycotting the Kingsland High Street McDonald’s for their refusal to allow delivery drivers free parking at their abbot street car park, denying them access to shelter and toilet facilities, and protesting outside Hackney Town Hall twice due to the council’s support and enforcement of this ban.
While the police will never openly admit to being the enforcement arm of capitalist big business, the fact that their operation seems to have targeted delivery drivers engaged in an active dispute with the local McDonald restaurant and Hackney Council raises an eyebrow. It would certainly not be the first time that the police have colluded with capitalists to suppress working class resistance, with a special police unit recently implicated in spying on unions, and one of its members going on to work for an illegal corporate blacklist that attempted to prevent radical workers from finding jobs.
If this protest had not happened, it is likely that many more delivery drivers would have been arrested and possibly deported, and an ongoing worker’s campaign for better conditions may have been undermined. This action shows that even when the government and its police enforcers are corrupt, racist, and violent, we can protect each other when we work together to defend each other against the predation of state and capital. Solidarity to all those involved yesterday, we hope everyone arrested gets off scot-free, and we hope that this only emboldens communities to be more militant in their resistance to police operations against them.
For those in the area interested in resistance against the police, Hackney has an active Cop-Watch group. For those interested in resistance against immigration Hackney also has an active Anti-Raids group, and there are other Anti-Raids group across London and the rest of the UK. If you are a delivery driver interested in fighting for better pay and conditions, IWGB is organising in that sector.