At least three Labour councillors including a self-styled Marxist primary school teacher led the blockage of an immigration raid in south-east London.
A Nigerian national suspected of overstaying his visa was released after 200 protesters surrounded border officers on Evan Cook Close in Peckham yesterday.
Southwark councillor James McAsh raised awareness about the raid with a tweet at 3.05pm calling on campaigners to amass as the immigration raid got underway.
Labour councillors James McAsh (left) and Reginald Popoola (right) urged activists to block the Home Office raid on Evan Cook Close yesterday afternoon – and they succeeded
Stop the War Coalition chair Shelly Asquith (left) was an early fan of Jeremy Corbyn – and a major mouthpiece during the raid stoppage. Savan Qadir (right) leads Refugees for Justice
The Goose Green ward representative and teacher’s union member, whose Twitter bio describes him as a ‘Marxist’, urged his 15,000 followers to ‘Get Down ASAP’.
He added: ‘Please RT or pass on the message.’
McAsh was then pictured at a sit-in stopping the police van from being able to leave.
MailOnline has learned that immigration officers’ decision to release the Nigerian national was ‘informed by police consultations’ taking into account the gathered crowd.
McAsh’s original tweet was widely shared, with hundreds joining the improved gathering
Reginald Popoola tweeted early in the raid urging campaigners to ‘Block the van’
TUC officer and ex-NUS vice president Asquith described in real time the police response
Nunhead and Queens Road’s Labour councillor Reginald Popoola was also a key supporter of yesterday’s blockage.
The activist and legal adviser shared a clip of the growing protest at 3.45pm with the caption: ‘Block the van from taking one of our neighbours – come and join us now.’
Mr Popoola’s clip got more than 2,000 likes – with a subsequent video of the man’s release also widely shared by fellow campaigners.
The third local Labour councillor confirmed to have attended the protest is Sabina Emmanuel, who represents Peckham ward.
Stop the War Coalition chair and Trades Union Congress health and safety officer Shelly Asquith stated six Labour councillors were in attendance.
This claim has not been verified. The Labour Party has been contacted for comment.
Ms Asquith, an early member of ‘Team Corbyn’ with more than 35,000 followers, shared McAsh’s original tweet, adding: ‘Peckham people GET DOWN!
‘Don’t let them drag away our neighbours!!!!’
Campaign group Lewisham Anti-Raids – erroneously – reported that riot police were on the way
The same group incited local protesters to ‘resist our neighbour being taken away’
Campaigner Savan Qadir described the immigration raid as an attempt to ‘kidnap migrants’
Police officers pushed back as protesters surrounded the van containing the Nigerian man
Asquith is a former vice-president at the National Union of Students (NUS) and was president of the University of Arts London students’ union, according to her LinkedIn.
She referenced wanting to emulate recent immigration raid blockages in Glasgow, tweeting shortly after 3pm: ‘We’ve much in common with the fine people of Glasgow’.
Asquith’s tweets were shared by Lewisham Anti-Raids, the local branch of the national Anti-Raids Network.
Both organisations, whose leaders remain anonymous, tweeted frequently during the protest.
Refugees for Justice manager Savan Qadir, who is based in Glasgow, was another important voice during yesterday’s protest.
Metropolitan Police officers were called in to enforce the Home Office immigration raid
Cops were pictured protecting the van as protesters conducted a sit-in to block the move
Based in Kilmarnock, Scotland, Mr Qadir arrived in the UK as a refugee himself.
He is a member of Glasgow’s No Evictions Network and Stand Up to Racism.
Qadir described the raid yesterday as ‘Another failed attempt to kidnap migrants’ and has described the government’s Rwanda plan as ‘state trafficking’.
As scenes got ugly in Peckham yesterday, his tweet describing clashes between protesters and police as ‘Police brutality’ was widely reshared.
Police were called in to support the Home Office officials after the crowd swelled to more than 100 people following a social media call to action by left-wing agitators.
The group surrounded the van – containing the male suspect – and demanded ‘let him go’.
Officials later released the man on immigration bail, to the cheers of the crowd.
Video later showed officers leaving the estate while crowds chant ‘Don’t come back to Peckham’.
It came amid fiery public debateabout the government’s plan to transport asylum seekers who arrivein the UK to Rwanda while their claims are processed.
Left-wing activists and human rights lawyers areattempting to stop the first flight departing on Tuesday – and Prince Charles wasalleged yesterday to have privately expressed his disapproval of the plan.
The mob chanted as officers took oneman: ‘Let him go!’.
Others chanted: ‘We won’t be moving until the man is released,’ and ‘You say people, we say power.’
Campaign group Stand Up To Racism, under the hashtag ‘no deportations’, celebrated the man’s release, writing in a Twitter post: ‘The person in Peckham subjected to an immigration raid has been released!
‘Police and immigration officers have been forced to retreat from the area. Protest works!’
The Home Office hit back, branding the blocking of its officers as ‘unacceptable‘.
A spokesperson vowed protests would ‘not deter staff from undertaking the duties that the public rightly expect them to carry out’.
Chants turned into ugly clashes at the Peckham estate this afternoon with tensions rising
The Metropolitan Police, who were called following protests against the immigration raid, arrived at the scene to carry out crowd control.
The raid itself was conducted by Home Office officials.
A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Police were called to Evan Cook Close, SE15, on Saturday, 11 June, shortly after 13.30hrs to a report of protesters obstructing immigration officers.
‘Officers attended and found a van was being prevented from leaving the location. One man has been arrested by Immigration Enforcement officers for immigration offences. Officers remain at the scene.’
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘The government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes, often to the most vulnerable people, by removing those with no right to be in the UK.
‘The operation in Southwark was conducted in relation to suspected immigration offences.
‘Preventing immigration enforcement teams from doing their job is unacceptable.
‘Blocking or obstructing them will not deter them from undertaking the duties that the public rightly expect them to carry out.’
Campaigners appeared to scuffle with police officers on the scene in a fight to stop the raid
It comes after campaigners, including left-wing union bosses and socialist groups, took to social media to issue a call to action for more people to gather at the scene.
Brighton’s anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign Twitter account wrote: ‘Solidarity to community resisting immigration raid right now in Peckham. More numbers needed.’
Campaign group Lewisham Anti-Raids, which says on its Twitter page that it leads community resistance to immigration raids in Lewisham, wrote: ‘Please come join us at Evan Cook Close, Queen’s Road Peckham – we need more people to stand with us and resist our neighbour being taken away. Together, we can win!’
Shelly Asquith, a TUC staffer and chair of Jeremy Corbyn backed Stop the War Coalition, and who describes herself as a ‘socialist’ on Twitter, wrote: ‘Peckham people GET DOWN! Don’t let them drag away our neighbours!!!!’
Crowds gathered at the estate on Evan Cook Close in Peckham from early this afternoon
Meanwhile, Zoe Gardener, who is a Policy and Advocacy Manager at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants today praised the action. She wrote on Twitter: ‘I f****g love the good people of Peckham. I f*****g love to see this it is the most beautiful thing. Show up. Fight back. We can win!!’
Leicester East MP Claudia Webb, a former Labour politician who recently lost an appeal against her conviction for harassing a woman who was having a sexual relationship with her then partner, also praised the mob.
She wrote on Twitter: ‘In response to a Home Office immigration raid, with the power of humanity and solidarity, the people of Peckham, SE15, mobilised, fought back and got their neighbour released. This is people power – so beautiful to see.’
The raid appears to have started shortly after midday, with crowds assembling over the next two hours. Tweets shared by local campaigners and councillors raised awareness about the event.
Labour councillors and local campaigners led the stoppage, urging others to join
Police officers appeared unfazed as the large assembled crowd chanted while the raid went on
The revolt came as the first Home Office flight to Rwanda was set to go ahead on Tuesday.
The plans survived a bid by left-wing lawyers to halt the policy as a violation of human rights legislation.
A High Court judge last night threw out a bid to halt the first charter flight to Rwanda.
Mr Justice Swift said he had to balance the concerns of individual migrants with the wider public interest.
Prince Charles reportedly joined the opposition, claiming the Rwanda plan is ‘appalling’.
The scores of people chanted with raised arms as they attempted to halt the immigration raid
Left-of-centre campaigners have sought to halt the government’s Rwanda migration plan
The Daily Mail learnt there has been friction between the heir to the throne and Boris Johnson, with each grumbling about the other being late for official appointments.
Allegations of tensions between the two men echo reports of the strained relationship between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher when she was PM.
A union representing Immigration Enforcement staff and two charities claimed in the High Court yesterday that Rwanda was an unsafe country and Miss Patel was exceeding her powers as Home Secretary.
But rejecting their application for a temporary injunction blocking next week’s first flight, Mr Justice Swift said: ‘It is important for the secretary of state to be able to implement immigration control measures, and preventing that would be prejudicial to the public interest.’
Despite opposition from the left, the government’s Rwanda plan will formally begin on Tuesday
Responding to the ruling, Mr Johnson said: ‘Welcome news from the High Court today. We cannot allow people traffickers to put lives at risk and our world-leading partnership will help break the business model of these ruthless criminals.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who insists the plan is crucial in preventing further deaths in the Channel, added: ‘I will now continue to deliver on progressing our world-leading migration partnership.’
The coalition that brought yesterday’s legal challenge was granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
That hearing is expected on Monday.
A separate application for an injunction is due to be heard by the High Court on Monday.
Further individual legal challenges are also expected to prevent the Home Office from removing migrants, most of whom crossed the Channel since May 1.
More than 90 from a pool of 130 migrants have already submitted claims – principally under the ‘right to private and family life’ and modern slavery laws – with more expected between now and Tuesday.
It emerged at yesterday’s hearing that 31 people are due on the first flight and the Home Office has agreed to withdraw five migrants from the passenger list.
‘A lot of people were waiting for the High Court ruling. We expect they will all put in individual claims now,’ a government source said.
‘There’s still a very real risk no one can be put on Tuesday’s flight.’
Demonstrations also took place against a repatriation flight to Jamaica, which ultimately took off with seven criminals onboard.
More than 100 were initially expected to take the flight, with just seven child rapists, drug dealers and other violent criminals ultimately taken.