Immigration raid in Elephant: a concert with a very bad taste

[Source: The Prisma, 12/03/12]

Around 90 people were arrested a few days ago, moments before going to see a musical gig. The police arrived and, after asking for identification, they took with them anyone who lacked it.

Some British media spoke of hundreds of arrests, including a hundred raids that day. There are no official versions, nor rounded figures; but the only certainty is that the Latin Americans, who do not have the documents needed in order to legally live in this country, live in a permanent nightmare.

Bus stops, restaurants, workplaces, the underground entrance…that is to say, common places, have ceased to be safe.Óscar, a Bolivian man, went to the English capital on February 25th to see a concert; he did not get to see the show.

He was arrested when he was in the entrance queue - because his visa had expired - and transferred to a Home Office prison. On the 2nd of March he was deported back to his country.

The arrest of Óscar, together with that of roughly 90 other Latin Americans, occurred due to a premeditated act by the police who, given the circumstances, sought to arrest as many people as possible.

Two factors which anticipated a large Latino presence at the event were that the singer who performed was the Puerto Rican, William Omar Landrón Rivera, better known as Don Omar, who has a majority of Spanish speaking people as fans; as well as the location of the concert at the Coronet Theatre, in the Elephant and Castle district.But, how did all this happen?

According to the account of one of the detainees, a short while before the concert room’s doors opened - scheduled for 7pm - people were already queuing to go in. Suddenly, they saw how the police began to arrive and walk along the queue line, and all of a sudden they started to ask for ID.

Johnny González, artistically known as Young Fleva, and a member of the group The Beat Breakers which performed as a support band that day, explains that they started to separate those who did not have ID and put them into vans. He maintains that they sang with their minds focused on what had just happened, as they all had friends and acquaintances that had suddenly been taken away.

“We come with the only intention of getting ahead. On the other hand, there are people in the streets who steal and kill for any money, and they do not do anything to them.

However, to the poor illegals yes.” In spite of Gonzalez’s words, the police showed no mercy.

One of the most surprising arrests was that of a mother and her daughter. The young girl, a minor, had attended the concert. Upon being detained, they asked her where she lived and they took her home, where they also arrested her mother. Both already have a lawyer.

Possible solutions

When an immigrant is arrested due to an expired visa or fails to have one, what measures can be taken in order to avoid deportation? José Luis Sánchez, from the Latin American Workers’ Association (LAWAS), explains through his experiences and several investigations that he has conducted.

“By means of the Human Rights Act: Articles 3 and 8, relating to the family; a detainee that has an English partner or one from the European Union, that has children with their partner, or has been living in the United Kingdom between 10 and 14 years, is allowed to hire a lawyer or request a state appointed one and make their application in this way.”

Another option could be the application for the right to asylum, which may claim that the people are frightened of returning to their country because their lives are in danger, on the grounds of political persecution, discrimination, race or religion.

However, anyone who is arrested has the right to ask for temporary leave on bail by hiring a lawyer and with guarantors.

This act has revealed that actions of David Cameron’s government against immigrants are very serious, and that there will be no hesitation in carrying them out, regardless of the context in which they occur and of the unjust and terrible results that are entailed.

Because of this, the ticket which was bought by some to see Don Omar ended up being a plane ticket to take them back home.