May 13, 2021 was an extraordinary day in Glasgow’s history of peaceful, formidable protest. It began early with a Home Office van marked ‘Immigration Enforcement’ parked in Kenmure Street. An ugly sight. Two men had been evicted from their home then bundled into the back of the van. Neighbours, very few at that point, surrounded it, one hero wedging himself underneath to stop it moving away. He stayed put for eight hours.
A close-knit community here in Glasgow’s Southside, word travelled quickly and by lunchtime hundreds of locals from all races, backgrounds and families turned up to join the protest. Ominously, a massive police presence grew too. The crowd was steadfast. Refusing to be moved they chanted “These are our neighbours! Let them go!”
From the vantage point of our corner flat, I began filming the scenes below.
Friends who live in the same close as the two detainees supplied snacks and water to the protestors. A small man with an Afghani cap buzzed in an around the crowd, speaking through a megaphone. His name was Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation. He advised caution, how to proceed peacefully, not to be tempted to react to police intimidation. Despite this, I was sure this day would end badly with injuries and violence given the sheer numbers of police, including horses. A ring of masked policeman surrounded the van staring into the middle distance. It was unimaginable that they would ‘let them go’.
— Eileen ReidBoulter (@ReidEileen1) May 13, 2021
Astonishingly, after one futile charge by police into the crowd who were sitting on the ground as advised by Mr Asif, the atmosphere changed. The mounted police departed, as did several huge vans that had completely blocked Kildrostan Street. Aamer Anwar, the human rights lawyer had turned up alongside local MP Alison Thewliss. Following tense negotiations, they secured the men’s release. But not before Aamer spoke to the crowd.