Anti-immigration protesters clash with police outside hotel housing asylum seekers

Protest comes week after 15 arrested after riot outside hotel housing asylum seekers in Merseyside

Ashley Pemberton
Sunday 19 February 2023 13:12 GMT
Protesters outside a Holiday Inn, Rotherham
Protesters outside a Holiday Inn, Rotherham (Tom Maddick / SWNS)

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Anti-immigration groups have clashed with police during a protest outside a hotel housing asylum seekers in South Yorkshire.

Organisers of the demonstration on Saturday at a Holiday Inn in Rotherham had previously leafleted the area, proclaiming: “We say no to illegal immigration.”

And anti-immigration banners attributed to Patriotic Alternative – Britain’s fastest-growing and most active far-right group – were seen among the crowd.

One adorned with the group’s banner read: “End the invasion. Stop immigration.”

Some of those protesting were involved in minor skirmishes with police, who kept them apart from counter-protesters. Anti-racism groups and trade unions were among those who had organised a counter-protest.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, the train drivers’ union, said in a statement: “These families have been forced to flee their homes and are seeking sanctuary here. Britain has a long, rich, and proud tradition of offering help – and offering a home – to the oppressed.

“It is deeply ironic that groups such as Yorkshire Rose, with an extreme right-wing agenda, forget that the people of this country were proud to stand up to fascism – and fight for freedom – during the Second World War.”

Anti-racism groups and trade unions were among those who organised a counter-protest
Anti-racism groups and trade unions were among those who organised a counter-protest (SWNS)

South Yorkshire Police said they had enforced a provision contained in the Public Order Act 1986 in order to control where the protesters could gather.

A force spokesperson said: “The intention is to maintain balance between the rights of people to lawfully protest and the rights of those affected and the wider public. Our chief constable has used Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 to impose a condition that specifies where the protests can take place at the premises.”

It comes a week after 15 people – including a 13-year-old boy – were arrested after a riot outside a hotel housing asylum seekers in Knowsley, Merseyside.

Research shows that self-proclaimed “migrant hunters” visited hotels housing asylum seekers 253 times last year amid a surge in anti-migrant activity across the UK.

Anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate said anti-immigration groups had posed as journalists in their efforts to get close to hotels accommodating asylum seekers, and that they had proceeded to use abusive and threatening language towards residents and staff.

SWNS

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