n596404504_1766306_5272Once again people gathered outside the UK Border Agency to protest against “ID Cards for Foreign Nationals”. This demonstration was scheduled to coincide with the start of the registration of non-EEA students and spouses in Wales and the West on Wednesday 10th December. The close proximity to a large number of workplaces and an assortment of further education establishments, as well as the lunchtime scheduling, meant that a healthy number were able to attend. n596404504_1766308_5746Due to having work or study commitments most people were only able to come along for part of the demonstration, with the crowd swelling to well over 50 at one point. Though advertised as a one hour protest, the last of the demonstrators didn’t leave until two hours after the start time. We have had some contact from people who would join us on the streets, were the protest being held at a time and place more accessible to them, all we can say is watch this space (or bookmark this blog!).

n596404504_1766307_5512We distributed 500 leaflets explaining the roll out of the scheme and how it will come to affect everyone who lives in the UK. The response from people passing by was once again entirely positive, as has always been the case whenever we have held protests against ID cards. Though only a circumstantial indicator, we certainly appear to be getting better public support than the Home Office on this issue!

2nddemog

The dividing line....

The dividing line....

Protesters who arrived at the demonstration promptly were met by member of South Wales Police’s Public Order Team (POT), wearing stab vests and heavy gloves, who ordered everyone to keep off the public property of the UKBA forecourt. This petty and quite frankly pathetic intervention by rude and aggressive public servants was largely irrelevant to proceedings as the intention was to fan out along the front of the building anyway. Some of the POT officers had their collar numbers hidden under (unnecessary and somewhat ridiculous) ‘safety’ gear, when challenged on this, the officers first became aggressive and then unresponsive. img_0613That was until local beat officers arrived a little later on and once they were pressed on this issue, ensured the POT fell in line and (sheepishly) untucked their lapels, at which point the POT withdrew, visibly disappointed that they were unable to find an excuse to assault anyone.

2nddemof

img_0621With the whole scheme being pushed by spin doctors as a ‘crackdown’ on ‘bogus’ students and spouses, the Home Office has made a huge song and dance about the fact they were able to arrest someone who applied for an ID card. The effect this will have on the community he was part of is clearly not to make it a safer or better place to live. Once again, the twin aims of power and control appear to be the only major motivations. The idea that the UK is turning into a police state has widespread support, and even amongst people who think it isn’t, there is an n596404504_1766305_5036understanding that many of the hallmarks are there. How we organise to oppose these worrying trends is up to everyone who cares about freedom and equality. We need to build the kind of movement that is able to reverse the waves of authoritarianism that currently dominates the political mainstream.

2nddemoc

n596404504_1766309_5986These are far from the first protests outside 31-33 Newport Road against the activities of the government operatives who work inside this building. As well as drawing attention to the introduction of ID cards and the role the UK Border Agency is taking in this, we are also concerned with the wider role of the UKBA and it’s involvement in deportation and detention.img_0622 This is the building where snatch squads leave from to conduct dawn raids on innocent families, where ‘case owners’ deliberate on who is going to be locked up without trial or deported to an uncertain future and where refugees enduring the asylum process have to sign and are treated like criminals. It was here that B B was grabbed and taken into detention before being deported, where civil servants plotted the deportation of Jean Pierre and from where agents left to take Ama Sumani to her death.

img_0598Unsurprisingly the fact ID card registration was starting, let alone that there was a protest against it, was completely ignored by local media outlets. Though we’ve recently taken part in things like the S4C show Hacio, media interest in the issues we campaign around is sporadic at best. A report from this demo appeared on Cardiff Radical Socialist Forum, whilst reports on the previous demos have recently appeared on Undercurrent Alternative NewsDigital ID and this video from RINF:

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