Protestors block attempted Home Office immigration ‘raid’ on Nicolson Square

Chants of ‘shame on you’ were heard as officers left without detaining anyone


Over 100 protestors gathered in Nicolson Square on Thursday evening to block what they described as an immigration “raid” by the government.

Police were notified of the protest just before 7pm on 5th May, which was sparked by the arrival of Home Office vans at the city centre address.

Campaigners took to social media to spread awareness about the potential deportation, encouraging locals to attend the protests and help prevent officers from detaining residents.

Following over an hour of non-violent protest, Immigration Enforcement staff left the area without detaining anyone to chants of “shame on you”.

Speaking to The Edinburgh Tab, a Home Office spokesperson said: “An operation was carried out in Edinburgh today and to suggest that protesters had an impact on the outcome is wrong.”

Officers are believed to have entered the Beirut restaurant, just metres away from Edinburgh University’s central campus. They claim they were investigating the presence of two individuals who have been found in breach of immigration laws.

Campaigners have taken to social media to praise the bravery of local residents in supposedly preventing the raid – the Edinburgh Antiraids group described it as a big win that “sent the Home Office away in shame”.

Bagpipes and cheering were heard in the square throughout the protest, and some of those present were visibly emotional by the show of support for Edinburgh’s immigrant communities.

The Home Office has described the crowd’s actions, aimed at preventing deportations, as “unacceptable”.

The incident comes a year on from the now-infamous attempted immigration raid in Pollokshields, Glasgow, which saw law enforcement officials confronted by hundreds of protestors.

Immigration and asylum laws are managed by the UK government. Boris Johnson’s new Nationality and Borders Act is supposedly designed to make the UK’s immigration system fairer, whilst Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described it as “offensive”.

Responding to the event in full, a Home Office spokesperson said: “Immigration Enforcement attended an address in Potterow, Edinburgh on 5th May 2022. Appropriate legal protocol was followed. Two people were encountered in breach of immigration laws and were placed on immigration bail. 

“The operation was pre-planned and intelligence-led. Police Scotland were notified about it in advance, as is routine for operations such as this. We are grateful for the assistance of Police Scotland.

“It is unacceptable for people to attempt to block legitimate actions of law enforcement as they work to remove those with no right to live or work in the UK.

“Through our Nationality and Borders Act we are taking steps to fix the broken system to make it fair to those in genuine need and firm on those who seek to abuse it. An operation was carried out in Edinburgh today and to suggest that protesters had an impact on the outcome is wrong.”

Cover image credit: Robyn Woof 

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