Racially-profiled police swoop takes place ahead of Marsa protest

Footage of police raid in Marsa targets black people in demanding identification documents, ahead of anti-immigrant protest on Sunday

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Matthew Vella
5 September 2017, 6:54pm
Photo of the New Tiger raid in August. Photo: James Bianchi
Photo of the New Tiger raid in August. Photo: James Bianchi
A series of police raids took place early Tuesday afternoon in the area near the migrant open centre in Marsa and the parish square.

Marsa is home to a sizeable number of asylum seekers, mainly sub-Saharan nationals, who are released from detention.

Footage from Net TV shows police walking up to black people walking in Marsa and demanding to see identification papers.

[WATCH] Abela insists police raid in Marsa was no act of racial profiling

Recently, a raid that led to the checking of 84 persons by immigration police in Marsa for documents was accused of being an act of racial profiling. But all persons checked were found to be carrying the correct documents and were released.

Then home affairs minister Carmelo Abela rejected suggestions that the move was sparked by comments made by PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami, who told parliament that Marsa residents were “living in fear” of mainly African migrants living in the nearby open centre and cheap housing in the area.

Now a group of Marsa residents will on Sunday morning hold a “solidarity walk” in the wake of concerns about a disregard for the law by African immigrants in their town.  The Facebook event wants to pressure the government to take action and to “give Marsa residents their dignity back”.  

The Malta Independent reported at least three police vans making the rounds close to the Marsa church and Triq is-Sajjieda. One man was seen being taken away by the police in handcuffs.

The raids were said to be carried out in a bid to ensure so called ‘third country nationals’ are working lawfully and have all permits in order.

But the raid comes ahead of a protest being organised in Marsa against loitering of migrants waiting to be picked up for odd jobs, and other deleterious effects of homelessness in the area.

The New Tiger Bar, already the scene of a massive police raid in which both Maltese and non-Maltese nationals were arrested, was also raided.

[WATCH] At least 15 arrested over cannabis trove in police raid on New Tiger Bar in Marsa

Some ten members of the Rapid Intervention Unit carried out the raid at the bar, with no resistance being met. The operators of the nearby Tavern Take-Out, who are of African origin, were then ordered by the RIU officers to clear the tables and chairs encroaching on the pavement outside: perhaps one of Malta’s most egregious afflictions by restaurants across the island.

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Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.