London’s Chinatown will shut down for five hours today in a protest over Home Office immigration raids, as reported by inews.
The protest will assemble in Newport Place before marching on the Home Office over numerous raids in the area that are perceived as unnecessarily forceful and discriminatory. The London Chinatown Chinese Assocation (LCCA) claims that a raid on 5 July was conducted with “unreasonable aggression” and “contempt”: the protests focus not on the upholding of immigration laws, but on the methods and conduct employed by Home Office employees and law enforcement officers carrying out raids that are said to take place on a weekly basis. Video footage of the incident in question later appeared on Facebook.
LCCA chief executive Jonathan Wiu gave a statement to inews: “There has been unnecessary violence and what happened [on 5 July] was a wake up call for us really. We here would all work with the government, we are open and willing to engage in positive dialogue. “But they arrive in their vans unwilling to talk to us peacefully. People feel it is discriminatory”.
These constant raids add to a challenging period for longstanding and traditional restaurant operations in Chinatown, (since the protests themselves lead to significant loss of revenue as restaurants close during a typically busy lunchtime.) Beyond that, the arrival of Instagram-led initiatives in the area over the last two years is not coincidental: Short-termist, commercial development has tended to court a new audience that can neglect the area’s history and community — a strategy that been long planned by landlords Shaftesbury PLC, which described Chinatown as “in a bit of a time warp” in 2017.
A similar walkout took place in 2013, with Chinatown chefs, waiters and shop workers protesting over “fishing raids.” As with the subject of today’s protests, these raids are said not to be led by government intelligence, but by heavy-handed enforcement.
About today’s protests, a Shaftesbury spokesperson told Eater London:
We are aware of the action being taken in Chinatown London. Obviously, we hope that the protest passes peacefully and that visitors can gain full access to Chinatown London once the strike concludes.
Asked whether the landlord had comment on the reasons behind the protests, as well as the protests themsleves, a spokesperson said “this is all the only statement from the company.”