ON the 13th of May 2021 a friend sent me a picture of a Home Office immigration van. “Look who’s right outside”, Declan wrote at 9:12am.

By 10:02am another update. “Someone is lying under the van”. The ‘Van Man’ who remains anonymous had dived under the wheels, giving neighbours time to join.

The peaceful protest against the Home Office’s inhumane raid started, a protest that started a wave of communities coming out in support of their neighbours. From Kenmure Street in Glasgow's Pollokshields to Nicolson Square in Edinburgh and Peckham in London, the same spirit sang out: say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here.

It’s been over a year since the Kenmure Street protest and the day has been heralded as a success of collective action and solidarity. Those who took the lead on the day, such as Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, encouraged protesters to sit down, engage peacefully and not to react to the police in the face of intimidation.

I arrived to police vans parked the length of Darnley Road and the largest police presence I’ve seen on Nithsdale Road. Social media was filled with reports of the growing police presence, videos circulated of horses being brought along Melville Street. It was becoming clear to all those in attendance that Police Scotland were ready to use full force to support the UK Home Office and remove the peaceful protesters.

I made my way onto Kenmure which was filled with people who had flocked from every corner of the city. The bus stop became a make-shift food stall handing out fruit, sandwiches and water. People close to the van were sitting down in groups, talking, sharing food and chanting ‘Let Them Go’, ‘These Are Our Neighbours’.

The megaphone was passed from Mohammad to Roza Salih, one of the ‘Glasgow Girls’, now Scotland’s first refugee councillor, who knows the importance of standing in solidarity with your neighbours. She sang out ‘No Borders, No Nations, Stop Deportations’ while residents hung out painted banners proclaiming: ‘If this is Team UK we reject it’. People kept arriving, some with babies sleeping peacefully in their carriers.

Sabir Zazai, of the Scottish Refugee Council, told the crowd of the efforts to get those inside the van out and lawyer Aamer Anwar met with the police and negotiated the release of the detainees into his custody. When Anwar entered the immigration van he turned to the two men to tell them in Punjabi they were free because of the people of Glasgow.

When Sumit Sehdeva and Lakhvir Singh, two men who have lived in Scotland for a decade, were released you could feel the relief and joy in the crowd – we had won. We achieved more on that street than any politicians could in our parliaments.

Despite the overwhelming peaceful nature of the day the police arrested three people who are now represented by Aamer Anwar & Company. If you saw any arrests or have any footage of Kenmure Street, you can help by sending it to office@aameranwar.com or get in touch with our office on 0141 429 7090.

Rhiannon Spear is a former SNP councillor and now a trainee solicitor at Aamer Anwar and Company