Dozens arrested after London protest blocking removal of asylum seekers

LONDON — British police arrested 45 people on Thursday after a violent protest in London against the transfer of asylum seekers form a hotel to a barge off southern England.

Dozens of protesters outside the hotel in Peckham, southeast London, attempted to stop a bus carrying the asylum seekers from leaving, reportedly deflating its tires and obstructing the vehicle by surrounding it, London’s Metropolitan Police said.

Tackling illegal migration is one of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s top priorities, and to bring down the high costs of accommodating migrants in hotels while their asylum claims are processed, the government has been trying to use barges and former military sites.

Critics, however, have called the Bibby Stockholm barge — which is docked at Portland Port in Dorset and can house up to 500 men — inhumane and compared it to a prison ship.

Several police officers were assaulted during the protest in Peckham, but none were seriously hurt, police said.

“We will always respect the right to peaceful protest, but when officers are assaulted and obstructed from their duty, then we can and will take decisive action,” Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said.

Arrests were made for offenses that included obstruction of the highway, obstructing police and assault on police.

“Housing migrants in hotels costs the British taxpayer millions of pounds every day,” Home Secretary James Cleverly said on social media platform X, alongside a video of the protest.

“We will not allow this small group of students, posing for social media, to deter us from doing what is right for the British public,” he said.

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