Protesters gather in Dover to demand open borders and migrant rights

Roderick Cobley and Mitch Mitchell report on Saturday’s Open Dover demo on the Kent coast

Open Dover demonstration in support of migrants. Photo by Steve Eason.
(Open Dover demonstration in support of migrants – photo by Steve Eason)

Around 500 protesters turned up on a rainy afternoon in Dover yesterday to stand in solidarity with refugees trapped in the camps in Calais.

The protest was organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, with support from London2Calais, rs21 and local anti-racist organisations.

The protesters were generally young and militant, from a variety of political backgrounds. About half of them were from the Kent area, with others coming from Brighton or in coaches from London and Birmingham.

Local protesters said they were sickened by fascist groups who have been targeting the area. Nazis have tried holding rallies in Dover to take advantage of the anti-migrant racism promoted by the Tories.

The demo started in the town square close to the train station. It wound its way through the streets of Dover before marching along the seafront to occupy a roundabout near the port terminal – to the initial consternation of the local constabulary.

Chants included “Tories Out! Migrants In!” and “Say it loud, say it clear: refugees are welcome here.” Flowers were laid in memory of Chinese migrants found dead in the back of a lorry last August in Austria. This tragedy recalled a similar one in June 2000 that took place in Dover.

Groups represented included the organisers NCAFC, Kent Anti-Racism Network, Movement for Justice, Folkstone & Hythe Labour Party, Ashford Greens, Unite the Union plus a sizeable contingent from Lesbians and Gays Support Migrants – a spin-off from the original LGSM group featured in the film Pride.

The demonstration ended without any police intervention and made its way back into the town centre. Everybody who attended felt that they had been part of something very worthwhile.

London2Calais is hosting a summit for refugee solidarity activists in central London on Saturday 24 October. It takes place at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, London WC2H 8EP, from 11am to 7pm – register here.

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