Two men detained by British immigration officials in Glasgow have been released after a seven-hour standoff between protesters and Scottish police officers that saw Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon admonish Britain”s Home Office.
In video published on social media, a crowd of demonstrators can be seen cheering as one of the detained men climbs out of a van surrounded by police officers.
The Home Office had said in a statement that the men had been detained “in relation to suspected immigration offences” and were released on bail.
However, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condemned the incident as “unacceptable”, particularly as it unfolded in a Muslim community in the midst of Eid and in an area hardhit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Releasing a number of tweets on the situation, the first minister said Police Scotland officers had been put in an “invidious position” after being summoned to support the Home Office in the operation.
“The Home Office needs to ask itself hard questions after today,” she said in a later tweet.
“Doing this on Eid, in the heart of Muslim community, and in the midst of a serious Covid outbreak was staggeringly irresponsible – but the even deeper problem is an appalling asylum & immigration policy,” she said.
In a statement, Police Scotland said Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland had “taken the operational decision to release the men detained by UK Immigration Enforcement back into their community” following the incident.
The police force said the decision was taken “in order to protect the safety, public health and well-being of all people involved in the detention and subsequent protest in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, today.”
Police Scotland asked that members of the public “disperse from the street as soon as possible”.
Police were first called to Kenmure Street in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, at about 10 a.m. where the Immigration Enforcement van with the men in it was surrounded by protesters, including neighbors of the men.
One demonstrator climbed under the vehicle to stop it from moving, while others sat in the road. The crowd chanted “Leave our neighbors, let them go” and “Cops go home.”
Police Scotland said the decision to finally release the men had been made “to protect the safety, public health and well-being” of all involved.
British politicians welcomed the decision, with Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP calling the community’s support of the detained men “an incredible show of community and solidarity from the people of Glasgow”.
“Shame on immigration enforcement officials for targeting an area with a large Muslim community during Eid,” Ribeiro-Addy said.