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Deportation flight prompts protests outside Downing Street

The demonstrators carried placards reading ‘Solidarity with the Windrush Generation’ and chanted ‘no charter flight, respect human rights’.

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Campaigners outside Downing Street (Aaron Chown/PA)

Campaigners outside Downing Street (Aaron Chown/PA)

Campaigners outside Downing Street (Aaron Chown/PA)

Crowds of people have gathered on the road outside Downing Street to protest against the planned deportation of around 50 people to Jamaica on Tuesday morning.

The protesters – who had braved heavy rain – carried placards reading “Solidarity with the Windrush Generation” and chanted “no charter flight, respect human rights”.

One 35-year-old man said he knew someone on the flight and said he had been deprived of his phone for weeks to prevent him contacting his solicitor or family.

Protests outside Downing Street
People are protesting against government plans to deport 50 people to Jamaica (Aaron Chown/PA)

One woman, who gave her name only as Anthea, described her husband’s unsuccessful deportation battle last year.

She said: “He was deported on February 6 last year – he had no knowledge he was going to be deported until February 5.”

The mother-of-two, 51, said she had been forced to borrow and get into debt to pay for a solicitor to try and keep her husband in the country.

Anthea said often he would be moved to a new detention centre and they would not be told – meaning she and her children had no idea where he was for days.

“That’s how this system works. It works by destabilising you, by stripping away your dignity and not providing you with anything that makes you feel like a person,” she said.

Anthea said at one of the centres, her husband had been asked by guards to “keep an eye” on a man who had just tried to hang himself.

Describing her husband’s flight to Jamaica, she said: “They were in shackles for the entire flight – it’s an image that reminds me of the days of slavery.”

Anthea declined to comment further to protect her teenage children.

Protests against government deportation plans
The protesters braved heavy rain (Aaron Chown/PA)

Antonia Bright, one of the protest’s organisers, said the Home Office had conducted a “round-up” of Jamaican detainees across all detention centres in order to fill the charter flight.

She said many had already been locked in their rooms ahead of Tuesday’s planned departure.

Addressing the crowd, she said: “The Government are trying to criminalise the black community while they push through more cuts and austerity that attack all of us.

“They are trying all of that but it doesn’t mean they are strong – they are overreaching themselves and they can come crashing down.”

The organisers arranged for those detainees who have access to phones to listen to the protest from their detention centres.

“They need to know we are out here demonstrating for them to stop their deportation,” Ms Bright said.

The protest later moved towards Parliament Square and blocked the road.

PA