Protesters vow to stop Royal Victoria Dock immigration centre bid
PUBLISHED: 17:00 19 October 2020
A protest against a proposed immigration centre saw campaigners pledge to defend the rights of refugees and migrants.
Organisers report that 45 people attended the action outside Warehouse K in Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, where the government wants to base the centre.
Jessica Okwuonu, who is from the area, said: “Something that represents such hate and anger has no place in a community with values like ours.
“No matter your colour or creed, you’ll find friends and family here. Today we tell them we will stop this centre. Tomorrow we will teach them how diversity works and how easy it is to love your neighbour.”
The protest on Friday, October 17 – organised by the Newham branch of anti-racism campaign group, Stand Up to Racism – was joined by neighbours, volunteers, teachers, councillors and health workers.
Deputy mayor of Newham, Cllr John Gray, said: “We will work together with local groups and the community to stop this ‘prison’ in Newham.
“The government’s plans for this warehouse, which was built in 1885 to store imported tobacco farmed by slaves, are an outrage.”
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Messages of support came from Unmesh Desai, London Assembly Member for City and East, as well as West Ham MP Lyn Brown.
The town hall first made public its opposition to the Home Office’s bid earlier this month when Newham mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, described the plans as an affront to diversity in the borough.
Newham maintains it was kept in the dark about the plans when it approved the government’s initial application to base services at the warehouse.
However, the Home Office says it made its intention to replace its existing immigration centre in Becket House clear in its application submitted a year ago.
The government is expected to submit a change of use application to Newham within weeks.
Cllr Dr Rohit Das Gupta said: “We have a moral and political opposition to all kinds of hate and must stand up and mobilise against this proposal.”
Trish O’Hara, who chairs the Labour Party’s Forest Gate North branch, said: “These are my people, your people, our neighbours. And when they come for them, I’ll fight and well fight together to save our community. This is just the start.”
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