AN ANGRY demonstration of over 200 shouting ‘Stop charter flights’ blocked Whitehall for an hour on Thursday evening.
The protest was called to prevent a charter flight to Jamaica on February 11th, where up to 50 people may be deported.
Campaigners claim that among those facing deportation are people who have lived in the UK most of their lives.
Lee Jasper and Zita Holbourne, joint chairs of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC), addressed the rally.
Jasper said: ‘This government is more hostile than anyone could imagine.
‘The deportations are a hostile act on black people particularly those from Jamaica.’
Zita Holbourne said, ‘It is inhumane how people are being treated. People who have complied with the Home Office, gone through the appeal procedure have been left distraught that their appeals are turned down irrespective of their appeal being heard.
‘These are not hardened criminals as the government is making out, but have been criminalised by their immigration status.’
Anthea from Brent gave a moving account of how a deportation had shattered her family.
She told the rally: ‘My husband was one of 29 people deported to Jamaica exactly one year ago.
‘The government indicated many of those due to be expelled on February 6 – on the first charter flight since the Windrush scandal – were rapists and murderers.
‘My husband was not a rapist or murderer. He committed a crime which he went to prison for and after his release looked for work.
‘He was in the jobcentre when he was detained. I was waiting outside for two hours until two policemen came to the car to tell me he had been detained.
‘His two children, now 16 and 13, are going through hell.
‘Two weeks later I received a phone call at 3am, giving me two hours to pack his suitcase.
‘I had to tell the kids that not only was their dad going to be deported but he didn’t have any belongings.
‘They were distressed and very confused. We got to Heathrow at 7am and they said: “You have five minutes to say goodbye.”
‘I haven’t done anything wrong and my children haven’t done anything wrong and even if he did something wrong he has served his sentence,’ she said.
‘To take him away from his family is something neither of us imagined. My children are going through hell.
‘The detention centre at Gatwick is literally on the runway. You can hear planes all the time.
‘Eight ex-army officers came to his cell to take him to the plane, where many others were shackled.
‘Some were trying to commit suicide, one with a razor blade in his mouth.’
At the rally, Deb Madden from the Joint Enterprise Not Guilty Association (JENGA) told News Line: ‘The government is still using the law of joint enterprise, which particularly affects the working class and poor.
‘The Supreme Court declared three years ago that the law of joint enterprise had taken a wrong turn 30 years ago, yet it is still being used today.
‘JENGA are currently supporting over 1,000 people serving horrendous sentences for crimes they did not commit.
‘Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Appeal Court refuses to correct this stain on British justice.
‘The law is disproportionately being used against those from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities
After Anthea spoke, protesters shouted ‘No one can hear us. We have to do something. Block the road!’
The crowd then moved onto the road blocking the Whitehall traffic for an hour.
Jenny Black at the protest told News Line: ‘It’s shocking that the government is deporting people in this way.
‘You can’t help thinking of the slave trade where people were forcibly taken from one country to another in shackles.