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Call to step up Windrush campaigning

TURNOUT: Attendees at the public meeting in Hackney Town Hall

A 400-strong public meeting backed a plan for civil disobedience during a Windrush day of action on June 22.

The meeting supported blocking traffic in city centres to raise the plight of people unfairly suffering due to the impact of the Government’s policy of hostile environment for some migrants.

People also supported a call for unlimited compensation for all those affected by the Government immigration policy and the granting of a passport to those from the Commonwealth who are settled in the UK.

The meeting on Windrush was held at Hackney Town Hall on February 22. At the same time, meetings were held in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Leeds.

The Government’s consultant on the design of the Windrush Compensation Scheme, Martin Forde QC, spoke at the meeting, alongside human rights and migration lawyer, Jacqueline Mckenzie, former Black Police Association leader, Leroy Logan, trade unionist and campaigner Zita Holbourne and former London mayor adviser Lee Jasper.

The meetings were organised by Windrush Action, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts and Black And Minority Ethnic Lawyers for Justice.

Lee Jasper told the meeting how important it was to collaborate with other groups suffering from the Government’s hostile environment. He also said: “We are developing a national movement. We have to look back to the movement that led to 20,000 people marching for the New Cross Fire.”

He continued by saying that the authorities may not take a march seriously. “We have to have civil disobedience and have to block traffic for an hour.”

Current member of the Windrush Action’s steering committee, Leroy Logan, argued for using powers in the Equality Act to hold the Government to account. He said that Government should hold an Equality Impact Assessment on their decision to determine whether it adversely affects people who are discriminated against.

“They haven't done that so they can be taken to court. We are even looking at Royalty to act,” said Logan. “She should make an apology as head of the Commonwealth to the Windrush citizens.”

Speakers alleged that the UK government gave Caribbean nations £20,000 for every deported Windrush citizens. BAME Lawyers for Justice representative, Peter Herbert said that we need governments in the Caribbean to become more committed to Windrush citizens. He said: “We should stop sending remittances home to the Caribbean and Africa. We have to make them feel the pain.”

Martin Forde QC pointed out that the hostile environment assumed that that Windrush citizens did not have residency and citizens had to prove otherwise.

“People have a footprint such as National Insurance, PAYE, marriage certificate. The Government has asked people to find information that shows their residency when they could easily find that themselves in the different departments,” said Forde.

Meeting organizers thanked Hackney Council for at the last minute providing a venue big enough to hold all who attended. The meeting heard that the council have held public advice sessions for people who have had their residency questioned.

Hackney mayor, Cllr Philip Glanville said: “We were the first council to pass a motion on Windrush with a statement of solidarity. We are committed to lobby the Home Office to do the right thing.”

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