Tag Archives: protest

French police fire tear gas as anti-vaccine protest turns violent

Demonstrators, many of them unmasked, are unhappy with vaccination mandate for health workers and health pass to enter public places.

Police in Paris fired tear gas and made arrests as they tried to disperse demonstrators, many of them sceptical of vaccines, the so-called “anti-vaxxers“, who marched throughout France over new coronavirus restrictions.

Some of the protests began as early as Wednesday morning in Paris as the annual military parade for the traditional Bastille Day parade, watched by President Emmanuel Macron, was taking place along the Champs-Elysees.

The protests went on into Wednesday night, with protesters captured on video clips posted on social media, also aiming fireworks at police.

The demonstrators, many of them unmasked, are unhappy at the decision announced on Monday to oblige health workers to get vaccinated and for people to show a vaccine health pass to enter most public places. Those who are not vaccinated would need to show a negative test result.

The announcement prompted a record number of French people to book appointments for COVID-19 jabs.

“This is in the name of freedom” was the message from some of the protesters.

In one area of the French capital police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

The declared route was not respected, the prefecture of police said in a tweet, deploring the “throwing of projectiles” and lighting of fires by the protesters.

Throughout Paris some 2,250 people protested, while other demonstrations took place in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nantes and elsewhere. The French authorities put the total number of protesters at 19,000.

‘Health segregation’

The interior ministry said that there were 53 different protests throughout France.

“Down with dictatorship”, “Down with the health pass” protesters chanted.

One of them, Yann Fontaine, a 29-year-old notary’s clerk from the Berry region in central France, said he had come to demonstrate in Paris arguing that the health pass was equivalent to “segregation”.

“Macron plays on fears, it’s revolting. I know people who will now get vaccinated just so that they can take their children to the movies, not to protect others from serious forms of COVID,” he said.

“There isn’t any vaccine obligation, this is maximum inducement,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said then.

“I have a hard time understanding, in a country where 11 vaccines are already mandatory … that this could be seen as a dictatorship,” he said, adding that after a year of studying the vaccines “the time of doubting is long past”.

The rules will be relaxed for teenagers who have only been able to get the jabs since mid-June – “Making summer hell is out of the question,” Attal said.

According to an Elabe opinion poll published on Tuesday, a large majority of French people approve of the new safety measures.

Approximately 35.5 million people – just over half of France’s population – have received at least one vaccine dose so far.

At the start of the pandemic, France had some of the highest levels of vaccine scepticism in the developed world.

In December 2020, a survey conducted by the Odoxa polling group and Le Figaro newspaper, showed that only 42 percent of the French population wanted to get vaccinated. By April of this year that had risen to 70 percent, while about 14 percent remain vehemently opposed to vaccines.

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This post originally posted here Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera

Romanian workers stage 2,000km protest against low pay

A group of 13 Romanian workers completed a four-day rolling protest on Monday between Bucharest and Brussels over the low wages and working conditions that force their fellow citizens to make similar journeys in order to find decent work, Trend reports citing Euronews.

The “Caravan of Social Rights” made up of the Cartel Alfa trade union set off on Friday, stopping in Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Luxembourg to stage protests outside Romanian embassies with the support of the cities’ local trade unions.

The group also held meetings with the European Commission to express their concern at how economic growth in Romania over the past ten years hasn’t translated into a better quality of life for so-called “working people”.

Romania has one of the lowest average salaries in the EU at just €460 per month and now faces a difficult situation, according to the president of the country’s National Confederation of Trade Union, Bogdan Iuliu Hossu, with many citizens leaving the country for other EU member states.

“The initiative of the Commission was supported by most of the workers because it is the only way to escape the poverty which is everywhere in Romania,” Hossu told Euronews.

“Now, we have over 4.4 million citizens who have left the country and if things don’t change in the next two years, we could reach up to seven or eight million Romanian citizens who will be leaving because they cannot find work, and at the same time the work they find in Romania is unacceptable and a very low level.”

In October, the European Commission presented a proposal for having an adequate minimum wage across the whole of the EU. The goal is for all European workers to have their pay set at a fair level, to help them live decently.

But any EU-wide minimum wage would be different in each country, depending on the economic situation.

The proposal is currently being discussed by both the European Parliament and Council but is facing opposition.

European Trade Union Confederation General Secretary, Luca Visentini, told Euronews that the situation in Romania is unacceptable and must be addressed.

“We expect that the European Commission will finally intervene in the Romanian situation. We cannot tolerate that in a country where we have among the lowest salaries in Europe, where the working conditions have been significantly affected by the pandemic, and where poverty levels are so high, we cannot accept that the Commission simply ignores the situation,” Visentini said on Monday.

“The Romanian government has implemented horrible reforms that have dismantled completely social dialogue and collective bargain in the country.”

The directive could be a game-changer for Eastern European countries, like Bulgaria, Slovenia and Hungary which are also struggling with low salaries.

Opposition is coming mainly from Nordic countries though, that fear a lowering in their working conditions and in their collective bargaining traditions.

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Read more here >>> Trend – News from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Turkey.

After crash-filled Stage 3, Tour de France riders halt race in protest

Riders briefly brought the Tour de France to a halt on Tuesday to protest racing conditions after a series of crashes in the early days of this year’s event.

FOUGÈRES, France — Tour de France riders staged a protest at the start of Tuesday’s stage to complain about perceived dangerous racing conditions after a flurry of crashes reignited the issue of road safety.

Having left the town of Redon in the western Brittany region to start Stage 4, the peloton rode at a moderate pace and all riders got off their bikes after about one kilometer. They waited silently for about a minute before hitting the road again.

After the crash-filled Stage 3, several riders have criticized race organizers for setting up what they considered a dangerous finale to a Tour stage, especially in the early days of the race when nervousness is at its highest level.

Former world champion Philippe Gilbert said in a video that riders’ representatives asked for the Stage 3 timings to end with five kilometers left. The goal by the majority of riders was to avoid a risky final sprint in narrow and winding roads leading to the finish line.

“We had analyzed the route and saw that the finale was extremely dangerous,” said Gilbert, a Belgian classic specialist.

Gilbert said that race organizer ASO supported the proposal. “But the UCI (cycling’s governing body) commissaires did not accept the request, it was rejected in the morning at the start of the race,” he said.

Gilbert said a pileup on a downhill curve about three kilometers from the finish was a direct consequence.

“There was a big mistake from the people who approved this route,” he said.

Riders’ union CPA said in a statement it has asked the UCI to set up discussions to adapt the so-called “3-kilometer rule” during stage races. Under that regulation, riders who crash in the last three kilometers are awarded the time of the group they were riding with before they fell.

“This could avoid circumstances such as those which occurred in yesterday’s stage,” the union said. “Riders and CPA are determined to pursue changes for the safety and physical integrity of athletes. These changes are more necessary than ever.”

Thierry Gouvenou, who is in charge of the Tour route, told L’Equipe newspaper about the increasing challenges he faces to find finish sites without dangerous road materials.

“There are no longer any medium-sized towns without a small island, roundabout or narrowing,” he said. “Ten years ago, there were 1,100 dangerous points on the Tour de France. This year, there are 2,300. If the level of demand becomes too great, there will be no more finishes. That’s where we are.”

Gilbert did not put all the blame on the route on the UCI, though, saying the teams that scouted it before the race should have let organizers know about its dangers.

One of Gilbert’s teammates at the Lotto-Soudal team, ace sprinter Caleb Ewan, fell near the finish line as he contested the sprint and was forced to abandon with a broken collarbone.

Two top contenders for the yellow jersey — last year’s runner-up, Primoz Roglic, and 2018 champion Geraint Thomas — were involved in crashes on Monday, losing ground to their main rivals. But they fell on straight roads with no major difficulty and did not blame organizers.

Saturday’s opening stage was marred by two big pileups, one caused by a spectator holding a cardboard sign in the way of the peloton.

Calling for changes in the sport without offering solutions, veteran Groupama-FDJ sports director Marc Madiot called on all stakeholders to take their responsibilities “because if we don’t do it, we will have deaths and I don’t want to phone the family of the rider who will be in hospital forever. That’s not worthy of our sport.”

The last rider to die on the Tour was Fabio Casartelli, an Italian on the then-Motorola team of Lance Armstrong who crashed on the descent of the Portet d’Aspet pass in 1995. Many serious crashes have continued to mar the race since.

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Regent Street shut down by ravers as thousands flood central London in protest

Shocking videos posted on Twitter showed crowds breaking social distancing rules to dance to rave music. Hundreds of revellers held their hands in the air as the throbbing music played from a truck outside of the street’s iconic Hugo Boss store.

Others held placards – many of which criticised the current lockdown.

One read: “I wanna go dancing with you all night dancing.”

A video of the scene was shared on the social media platform and captioned: “Ravers proceed down Regent Street #saveourscene.”

It appears that the event was planned by people within the rave community who are angry about the ongoing lockdown.

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Others shared conspiracy theories including that the virus was fake and was just a ploy by the government to control people.

One wrote: “Take your FREEDOM BACK !!!”

Another said: “​A vaccine for a virus that’s never been isolated or proven to exist.”

Meanwhile a third said: “Proof (of) no virus.”

Another Twitter account called The Rave Network shared a video of the illegal gathering this afternoon.

It said: “Scenes in London right now. #SaveOurScene.”

Lockdowns have hit the UK’s rave scene badly.

Many large scale music events have been cancelled since the pandemic erupted – much to the annoyance of the scene’s dedicated fan base.

Many had hoped that after June 21 “Freedom Day” they would be able to return to their favorite pastime.

Unfortunately for them Boris Johnson has delayed it until July 19 because of rising cases of the Delta variant.

The Met Police has been contacted for comment and said it was “aware” of the rave.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Texas valedictorian behind viral abortion rights speech joins Austin heartbeat bill protest

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas high school student who used her valedictorian speech to call for abortion rights will speak at a rally at the state Capitol on Sunday.

Paxton Smith, the valedictorian at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, made headlines when she spoke out against Senate Bill 8, also known as the heartbeat bill, at her graduation last weekend.

On Sunday, she will join a group of young Texans rallying against the controversial bill at the Texas Capitol in Austin.

Speakers will discuss abortion rights at 11 a.m., before marching to the Governor’s Mansion.

At her graduation, Smith, who plans to attend the University of Texas and study the music business, scrapped a speech approved by her school to deliver the comments about abortion rights.

Paxton Smith
Paxton Smith, Lake Highlands High School valedictorian, poses for a photo, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Dallas. Smith scrapped a speech approved by her school administrators and delivered an abortion rights call in its place. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

“I have dreams and hopes and ambition. Every girl graduating today does. We have spent our entire lives working towards our future, and without our input and without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us. I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I am raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter. I hope that you can feel how gut-wrenching that is, I hope that you can feel how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you,” she said.

Senate Bill 8 bans any abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. That can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy, when many women do not yet know they are pregnant.

A battle in the courts is expected to take place before the bill would become law in September – with analysts saying it has a steep hill to climb to survive those court challenges.

Author: Harley Tamplin
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Evictions Surprised Trailer Park Residents, Protest Stunned Officials

MOREHEAD, Ky. — Under a slate-colored sky, the holdouts gathered in what remained of the North Fork Mobile Home Park. Around them it looked as if a hurricane had blown through, leaving scattered cinder blocks, capsized sofas and porches affixed to thin air. The small circle — among them single mothers, a factory worker, a retiree, two community organizers — sat on kitchen chairs discussing their next move: recruiting for a boycott.

“People are going to slam their doors in our face, but we’ll do it anyway,” said Mindy Davenport, 57, who has lived in the park for 26 years. One of the organizers sympathized: It was hard to talk to people you did not know.

Ms. Davenport, a former preschool aide, laughed. That was not the issue. “I know everybody in this town,” she said.

For more than two months, a fight has burned in Morehead, a small college town in the hills of eastern Kentucky. It began in early March, when the residents of roughly 65 mobile homes at North Fork were told they had a month and a half to leave and take their homes with them. A new development was coming, bringing restaurants and stores, jobs and tax revenue. The city was subsidizing it. The trailer park had to go.

But as soon as the eviction letters went out, a protest campaign erupted, with chants and rallies, messages of support sent from as far away as California and Maine, and visits from prominent state voices like Charles Booker, a likely Democratic candidate for the 2022 U.S. Senate race. Current and former residents have loudly registered their dissent — with actions like the planned boycott of the eventual shopping center — and laid out a list of proposals to mostly unreceptive city officials, including financial compensation for people forced to move.

And though most of the homes have now been hauled away or left behind, the campaign has rolled on, along with a debate over the obligations of a city to those dislodged by its growth and a lesson about how combative democracy has become — even in a small town — in an age of social media and protest.

“Over the past two years, I have been in a lot of different things, with Black Lives Matter protesting and organizing,” said Faith Plank, 17, who now lives with her sister and mother in an apartment that is much smaller than their mobile home but costs nearly three times as much. “However, in this case, I don’t think I expected it to go this far.”

The owner of the park and the local officials were caught by surprise. People had always talked of wanting more restaurants and stores, said Harry Clark, the judge executive in Rowan County, where Morehead sits. And while he expected some understandable resistance to the evictions from the long-term residents of the park, he said, “it surprised me how mean they got.”

Joanne Fraley, who with her late husband had owned the park for years, said she, too, was taken aback by the response, insisting that she had been more accommodating than Kentucky law requires.

“It is my intent to leave no one homeless,” she said. But “it’s basically quite simple. I own my own property. I have the right to sell it.”

The park is decades old, sitting on what was once the Fraley family farm. Most of the residents owned their trailers, paying rent — most recently, $ 125 a month — for the lots on which the trailers stood. A number of homes had been there for many years and, even if well-kept on the inside, were no longer in shape to be moved.

Some people had come to the park to escape abusive home lives, some to be closer to jobs at the shopping center across the road and some because it was simply what they could afford. North Fork may have been scruffy in spots but it was a neighborhood, with gardens and mutual babysitting and chats over morning coffee.

It is unclear when plans for a development were first broached; the developer, from Lexington, Ky., told a news station the project had been in the works for nearly two years. One of the first public discussions was in September, when a development consultant made a presentation to the Morehead City Council, proposing a tax increment financing plan to subsidize a retail center where the trailer park stood.

“We would consider that to be some blight, if you will,” the consultant said. “But we have a plan to redevelop that site in a way that maximizes its value.”

Neither the mayor nor the developer returned messages seeking comment.

Notices of a hearing on the plan ran in tiny font in the back pages of a local newspaper, a weekly that few in the park read. Still, with most city meetings streamed on Facebook, word got out.

Ms. Davenport was sitting outside her trailer one afternoon, looking after a group of children, when a neighbor drove by with the news. “‘They’ve sold the trailer park’,” she recalled him saying. “‘They’re going to build a shopping center.’”

Months of rumor followed. Residents called the property manager constantly, several said, and the answer was always the same: No, nothing has been sold.

“I was not going to go out there and make this big announcement that my property was sold and they’d better start looking around and then have the contract fall through,” Ms. Fraley said. “At a time when there was Covid, there was maybe a chance it wouldn’t have gone through. And if I’d done that, I’d be sitting there with an empty piece of property.”

Some stopped paying rent. One resident started an online fund-raiser. In December, a resident wrote to Mr. Clark, lamenting that neither the city nor the park manager would give anyone straight answers. Mr. Clark wrote back that a sale appeared likely and advised him to “begin looking for new lots and accommodations immediately.” He also wrote that Ms. Fraley was offering $ 1,000 per household to help pay for moves that typically cost several thousand dollars. (A nonprofit organization would soon offer additional money, though not everyone qualified.)

Still, many at North Fork did not know whether a mass eviction was really going to happen, and what options they would have if it did. Ashley Caudill, a former resident, said she called more than a dozen mobile home parks in the county and found most were either full or not accepting trailers older than a certain age, a cutoff that would disqualify some of the mobile homes in North Fork. Those owners would have to abandon their homes, or sell them for cheap.

Finally, in March, the official letter came. “NOTICE TO VACATE.” They had until April 30.

Given the distinctive status of mobile home communities — made up at the same time of renters and established homeowners — a number of states have passed legal protections for residents, said Carolyn Carter, the deputy director of the National Consumer Law Center. Some mandate at least six months advance notice for a park’s closure; that period is two years in Massachusetts. Some require that residents be given the collective opportunity to buy their community if it is going to be sold.

“This isn’t Massachusetts,” Ms. Fraley said. Indeed, Kentucky has none of these laws.

Few in North Fork said they were opposed to the development in principle. What infuriated them was that a developer, a property owner and their own government representatives had worked together for months or perhaps years on a project that would throw their lives into disarray and nobody had reached out to them. Their neighborhood was simply, in the word used at the City Council meeting, “blight.”

“I used to be a little shy about telling people where I lived because I was a little nervous that they would look at me differently,” Faith Plank said. She does not feel that way anymore, she said. A few nights earlier, she had stood up at a crowded City Council meeting and talked about her trailer park and how beautiful it was.

Author: Campbell Robertson
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Paris protest: Riot police hurl tear gas at demonstrators as Macron demands end to dissent

Riot police in France have clashed with pro-Palestinian protestors on the streets of Paris after large crowds gathered for a banned rally to protest the actions of Israel in Gaza. Flag-waving protestors took the streets of the French capital following six days of heaving fighting between armed Palestinian militants and the Israeli Defence Force which has seen more than 100 killed and left thousands of people in Gaza displaced. 
Footage from the rally captures the moment heavily armed riot police charged the march and forced the Pro-Palestinian protestors to flee under a barrage of tear gas canisters.

French officers with riot shields can be seen running through the smoke as they attempt to disperse the crowd.

Masked protestors can be seen responding by hurling smoke grenades and other missiles back at police.

The rally falls on Nakba Day an annual event to commemorate the exile of Palestinians following the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.

French authorities had banned the demonstration in advance, citing violence at previous Palestinian solidarity demonstrations.

Emmanuel Macron’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin called on the police to ban today’s demonstration earlier in the week.

On Thursday Mr Darmanin tweeted: “I have asked the Paris police chief to ban the protests on Saturday linked to the recent tensions in the Middle East.”

He added: “Serious disturbances to public order were seen in 2014.” 

Jeremy Corbyn was present at the London rally and addressed the crowd with the former labour leader being met with cries of “oh, Jeremy Corbyn.” 

He said: “Think what it’s like being a mother or father and seeing a building bombed in front of you, knowing your family is in there, and you can do nothing.

“It’s our global voices that will give succour, comfort and support in those settlements alongside Gaza and all over the West Bank, East Jerusalem who are suffering at this time.

“End the occupation now. End all the settlements now and withdraw then. End the siege of Gaza now.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

Glasgow protest sees Border Agency van blocked during operation – Nicola Sturgeon furious

Glasgow: Protestors surround immigration enforcement van

The immigration enforcement van was pictured parked on Kenmure Street, with protesters sitting on the road in front of it and a crowd around the vehicle and one man apparently lying underneath the vehicle. Roughly 200 protesters were reported to be at the scene, with chants of “Leave our neighbours, let them go” and “Cops go home” being heard.
A large number of police officers in face masks were in attendance.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “At around 9.55am this morning, police were called to support colleagues at the UK Border Agency at an address in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, Glasgow.

“A number of protesters are now at the location. 

“Officers are at the scene and inquiries are continuing.”

Glasgow Pollakshields

The stand-off is happening in the Pollakshields area of the city (Image: GETTY)

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has also voiced her opinion (Image: Twitter)

Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, was one of what he said were hundreds of neighbours protesting against the action.

The 54-year-old said: “We’re here against the hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state.

“The same people who run from the British and American bombs put at the back of the van right now. And they are about to be deported.

“And it’s on Eid you know… the guys are not even allowed to pray. How do you do that in a democratic society? It’s a sad day.”

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Police Glasgow

Police surround the van (Image: GETTY)

He added: “The good thing about this city and this country is these are all local people here who are here to defend their neighbours.”

Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, wrote on Twitter: “Not close to the details on this but this is shocking, disgraceful and racist if people are raided by enforcement officers amidst the pandemic on the day of #Eid.”

Scotland’s First Minister is furious at the timing of the Home Office action, lashing out at the Westminster Government in a series of tweets. 

She said: “Today’s events were entirely down to UK Home Office actions. Police Scotland were in an invidious position – they do not assist in the removal of asylum seekers but do have a duty to protect public safety. They act independently of ministers, but I support this decision.

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Protesters Scotland

Protesters make their point in support of those about to be deported (Image: GETTY)

Protests Glasgow

An estimated 200 protesters were reported to be at the scene (Image: GETTY)

Police and protesters in Pollakshields

Police and protesters in Pollakshields (Image: PA)

“I disagree fundamentally with UK Home Office immigration policy but even putting that aside, this action was unacceptable. To act in this way, in the heart of a Muslim community as they celebrated Eid, and in an area experiencing a Covid outbreak was a health and safety risk.

“Both as MSP and as FM, I will be demanding assurances from the UK Government that they will never again create, through their actions, such a dangerous situation. No assurances were given – and frankly no empathy shown – when I managed to speak to a junior minister earlier.”

Tom, a neighbour who joined the protest, compared the immigration operation on Eid to a police raid on Christmas Day.

The 31-year-old, who did not want to give his surname, said: “The solidarity shown today shows the community will not stand for their neighbours being dragged from their homes.

“I’d ask Christians to reflect on what it would feel like to have your house raided on Christmas Day.”

He said the police presence was “increasing fairly rapidly”, with 10 vans at the scene at around midday.

Humza Yousaf

Humza Yousaf has asked to speak to Home Secretary Priti Patel (Image: GETTY)

I am deeply concerned by this action by the Home Office

Nicola Sturgeon

Ms Sturgeon waded in earlier, tweeting: “As constituency MSP, I am deeply concerned by this action by the Home Office, especially today in the heart of a community celebrating Eid.

“My office is making urgent enquiries and stands ready to offer any necessary assistance to those detained.”

She subsequently added: “The UK Home Office action today is creating a dangerous and unacceptable situation in Pollokshields.

“As local MSP, I am also seeking urgent answers from them – they must resolve this situation ASAP.”

Anas Sarwar

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar was also voiced his concern (Image: GETTY)

Ms Sturgeon also retweeted a post by Sikhs In Scotland voicing concern about the situation. 

Scotland’s Justice Secretary and MSP for Glasgow Pollok Humza Yousaf has asked to speak to Mrs Patel about the scenes in Glasgow.

He tweeted: “This UK Border Force Operation, in Polloksheilds, the heart of the Muslim community, on Eid is a demonstration of the UK Govt’s hostile environment.

Anas Sarwar

Anas Sarwar’s tweet (Image: Twitter)

“I have asked to speak to the Home Secretary to gain further details & make clear just how unacceptable this situation is.”

He subsquently added: “I am disappointed that out of 8 Home Office Ministers none of them could make themselves available to speak to me.

“Having spoken to the DG for Home Office in Scotland I have urged him to abandon the forced removal.

“He will consider next steps & I have requested an update.”

Glasgow: Protesters surround van to stop immigration removal

Meanwhile Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he was “disgusted by the Home Office raids”.

He tweeted: “It is particularly unacceptable that this is happening during a pandemic, in an area that has a spike in cases and on the day of Eid.”

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross has yet to comment.

Express.co.uk has contacted the Home Office for comment.

(More to follow)

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

As Texas Voting Restrictions Near Passage, Democrats Stage Protest

Critics have assailed the voter measures as comparable to the abuses of Jim Crow, an era in which the white political power structure in Texas and other Southern states used tactics such as the now-unconstitutional poll tax and literacy tests to perpetuate segregation and suppress minority voters.

House members passed Senate Bill 7 at 3 a.m. on Friday, sending it back to the Senate to resolve differences between the two chambers before the May 31 adjournment. Before the final vote on Friday, House Republican leaders accepted a number of amendments, such as reduction of criminal penalties proposed under an earlier version of the bill for various infractions committed by election officials, including unauthorized removal of a poll watcher.

During legislative discussion, State Representative Rafael Anchía, a Democrat, questioned State Representative Briscoe Cain, the Republican chair of the House Elections Committee, on the use of the phrase “purity of the ballot box” in the legislation. The phrase was used in the Texas Constitution and during the Jim Crow era as the basis for excluding Black residents from all-white primaries. The phrase was from removed from the bill.

Democrats said the bill still contains unacceptable provisions that could hinder voting among minorities, older people and urban residents trying to avoid long lines to vote. One provision prohibits counties from distributing unrequested mail-in ballots to voters, which would bar a repeat of a Harris County initiative that drew fierce opposition from Republican officials.

The Texas business community, which initially remained largely silent, has also intensified its opposition, with more 200 businesses warning that the measures could restrict voter access and undercut the Texas economy. American Airlines and Dell Technologies, the first to oppose the bills, have since been joined by other companies including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Etsy, Patagonia, Warby Parker and Gearbox.

A recurring theme throughout the hour-and-a-half-long rally was that the fight was not over even though the session was nearing adjournment and Republicans held the upper hand. Representative Chris Turner, the Democratic leader in the House, said Republicans could count on legal action if Democrats were unable to block the bills in the Legislature.

“We’ll see them in court,” he said.

Author: David Montgomery
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Austin City Hall surrounded with tents in camp-in protest against new public camping ban

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Opponents of Austin’s public camping ban surrounded City Hall with tents on Friday night in a protest against the ban.

The protest comes in response to voters electing to pass Proposition B, which reinstates the camping ban and reintroduces a criminal penalty for offenders. It passed with 57% of the vote.

The City of Austin has since said the ban will come into effect on May 11.

On Saturday morning, City Hall was still surrounded by tents after protesters apparently slept inside them overnight.

Tents surround Austin’s City Hall in a protest against the city’s new camping ban (Picture: KXAN)

Signs reading ‘criminalization kills, housing for all’ and ‘what would city council do without their homes?’ were placed on some of the tents.

City Manager Spencer Cronk told council Thursday the new law passed by voters will be phased in gradually and be done in a safe and humane manner.

“City staff is currently working to develop a phased implementation of the camping ordinance beginning on its effective date of May 11th, with an emphasis on health, safety, and connection to services wherever possible,” a city spokesperson told KXAN in a follow-up email Friday.

Author: Harley Tamplin
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin