Solidarity with protest inside Morton HallTagged as: migration morton_hall repression
Neighbourhoods: lincolnshire morton_hall swinderby
In response to a protest by up to 100 migrant detainees in Morton Hall detention centre, a group held a solidarity protest outside the prison today. We used horns, pots and pans and a megaphone to be heard by detainees behind the razor wire fences, shouting 'Shut down Morton Hall!' and 'Freedom of movement is everybody's right'.
Protests began at the Immigration Removal Centre late last night, as Muslim detainees broke the Ramadan fast. The food offered was in small portions and of poor quality and this was evidently the final straw for many who have told us they are "fed up of being treated like dogs". They refused to eat the food and say they will continue to refuse to eat until the prison authorities take action to address their concerns. One man climbed onto the roof of a building and was there until 4am when he was fetched down but was replaced by another man soon after.
Although the protest was triggered by a meal for Muslim detainees, they were joined by many non-Muslims as part of a general protest against the conditions inside the centre.
The entire prison was put under lockdown by the authorities and the governor and guards were reported to have been out trying to deal with the situation on the roof. A second man joined the first during the day. One man was said to have been protesting the fact that he was denied bail.
By 2.15pm the men had been brought down from the roof and the total lockdown had ended. However, we spoke to one of the protestors at 4pm and he had still not been released. It's unclear whether the lockdown was continued in some units or whether he has been put in solitary confinement.
In response to the protest, a group of supporters organised a solidarity demonstration which took place at 5pm outside the prison fences. We did a tour of the extensive perimeter banging pots and pans, using sirens and horns and chanting, carrying a banner that read "Freedom to all prisoners". We stopped near to the prison buildings at several points and used our megaphone to send messages of solidarity to the people inside.
There were a lot of media people hanging around, including a reporter from the Lincolnshire Echo and ITV news. Unsurprisingly, the Morton Hall authorities had refused to speak to them.
Unsurprisingly, Morton Hall called the cops on us and they'd just about caught up with us in their patrol car when the road around the perimeter turned into a footpath and they had to go all the way back again. They predictably asked who was in charge and how long we were going to stick around for but didn't seriously try to impede the protest.
We saw a lot of Reliance and GEO transport vans parked near by and leaving the centre. Last time there was major disruption at Morton Hall, 18 inmates were ghosted out to nearby prisons and other detention centres. We hope that the authorities aren't up to their usual tricks to break the strike.
We are in touch with people who will be continuing the protest tonight and we hope they stay strong and that their struggle is successful. Victory to the hunger strike!