Police arrest 15 over violence outside British asylum seeker hotel
Asylum seeker advocacy groups say far-right protesters were behind the violence outside an asylum seeker hotel near Liverpool.
UK police on Saturday confirmed they arrested 15 people, including one child, after fireworks were thrown and a police car set on fire at a far-right anti-immigration demonstration outside a hotel housing asylum seekers near Liverpool.
Merseyside Police said, "15 people have so far been arrested following violent disorder" in the Knowsley area in northwestern England, after initially reporting three arrests.
Police said "missiles including lit fireworks were thrown at officers and one of our police vans was attacked by offenders, using hammers before setting it on fire" during clashes outside The Suites Hotel.
Reports of a "full scale riot" in Liverpool outside a hotel that's housing MIGRANTS— Active Patriot (@ActivePatriotUK) February 10, 2023
The incident was reportedly sparked by a demonstration tonight outside the Suites Hotel, in the northeast of the cityhttps://t.co/WmVlfJkgOV pic.twitter.com/3ay1m73rrE
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One officer and two members of the public received slight injuries, police mentioned.
The protest came amid heightened tensions as record numbers of migrants are crossing the Channel in small boats, prompting the Conservative government to come up with a controversial plan to send such asylum seekers to Rwanda.
UK Interior Minister Suella Braverman condemned the "appalling disorder" in a tweet, adding that the "alleged behavior of some asylum seekers is never an excuse for violence and intimidation."
Police said those arrested ranged in age from 13 to 54 years and included two women, adding that they were examining the footage to identify others.
Asylum seeker advocacy groups said the protesters were affiliated with far-right groups, while it was unclear who was behind the violence.
Police said a group of troublemakers invaded a planned protest by another group in order to "carry out violent and despicable behavior."
The Home Office has been using the hotel to temporarily house asylum seekers since last year, according to local media.
The violence broke out as anti-immigration protesters crashed a demonstration outside the hotel by activists voicing solidarity with asylum seekers.
The anti-migrant protesters shouted slogans such as "Get them out," said the Merseyside Pensioners Association, whose activists were holding placards saying, "Refugees welcome".
Claire Mosely, the founder of refugee charity Care4Calais, who was also at the scene, told Sky News that protesters "got to the police van and they set it on fire and it actually broke into a really big fire and exploded."
"Then they broke through again and they started fighting with the police," Mosely said.
This is outside Suites Hotel in Kirkby where a group of far right hooligans are causing terror & violence against asylum seekers who are housed at the hotel.— Qays Sediqi (@QaysSediqi) February 10, 2023
This must be so terrifying for the asylum seekers who are extremely vulnerable & traumatised. pic.twitter.com/VwnC4h2bWB
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According to police, the protest was fueled by "rumors and misinformation" in social media following an incident last week.
A man in his 20s was arrested and released with no action after reports that "inappropriate advances" were made to a 15-year-old girl in the Knowsley area, police added.
They said the investigation was ongoing and asked for witnesses to come forward.
"Violence is not the way to resolve this and we know that those involved in the violent activity last night used this as an excuse to commit violence and intimidate members of the public," police pointed out.
Hope Not Hate, a group that campaigns against racism, considered that the protest took place "in a context of swelling anti-migrant hatred."
White nationalist group Patriotic Alternative denied it was the organizer, after holding a protest outside the hotel last week. However, one of its campaigners posted a video showing he was at the scene on Friday.
"Far-right groups like Britain First (BF) and Patriotic Alternative (PA) had made visits to the hotel in recent weeks, although the protest appears to have been largely locally-driven, rather than organized by far-right groups outside the area," Hope not Hate indicated.
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