Thousands of insects released at Byron Hamburger restaurants by protesters

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Cockroaches, locusts and crickets were released into two Byron Hamburger restaurants in protest against the chain's role in an immigration swoop which saw dozens of its workers rounded up.

Activists said they released thousands of insects into the burger chain's Central St Giles and Holborn branches on Friday evening.

They accused Byron of carrying out "underhand entrapment" of its workers after 35 people were removed by immigration officials earlier in July.

byron restaurant
(Yui Mok/PA)

London Black Revs & Malcolm X Movement said in a joint Facebook statement on Saturday they had taken "affirmative action" in response to the chain's "despicable actions in the past weeks having entrapped waiters, back of house staff and chefs in collaboration with UK Border Agency".

"Many thousands of live cockroaches, locusts and crickets into these restaurants.

"We apologise to customers and staff for any irritation, however, we had to act as forced deportations such as this and others are unacceptable, we must defend these people and their families from such dehumanised treatment," it continued.

London Black Revs and the Malcolm X Movement Shut Down Two Byron Restaurants with a Swarm of Insects London Black Revs and the Malcolm X Movement have taken affirmative action against Byron restaurants chain in response to the Byron restaurants chains despicable actions in the past weeks having entrapped waiters, back of house staff and chefs in collaboration with UK Border Agency. Some 35 staff members who, many of whom were led off in handcuffs and have been deported out of the country while hundreds more are hiding in fear. Many thousands of live cockroaches, locusts and crickets into these restaurants. We apologise to customers and staff for any irritation, however, we had to act as forced deportations such as this and others are unacceptable, we must defend these people and their families from such dehumanised treatment. In a context of a unelected new Tory government that is the most vicious and right wing government in living memory, and in the context of growing racist and even fascist oriented policies encouraging and fostering mass resentment, racism and xenophobia towards ethnic and migrant communities, the MXM and LBRs decided we had to take some clear action to remind our communities we have the ability to strategically defend ourselves under this growing repression and exploitation in the face of adversity. UK government minister David Davis is arguing for fascist policies that even far-right and fascist organisations stopped campaigning for decades ago in his advocacy of forced mass deportation of migrants, and a minister in the German Bavarian government is also advocating forced mass deportation of migrants. The Brexit victory was a massive boost to anti-immigrant hate and racism, Trump is ascendant in the USA, fascist parties are about to win national elections in France and in Austria. We as immigrant communities, Black, African, Asian, Latin American communities must all unite and defeat this growing menace that is before us, otherwise our very future as communities inside the 'West' is in direct jeopardy. This growing racist and fascist policies, political discussion and atmosphere is taking this colonial and capitalist system into deeper crises where wars abroad and further repression at home will be increasing unless immigrant and allied communities halt this march of oppression. It's a great challenge before us, but the stakes are increasingly high for our communities and our families and communities in Africa, Asia, Latin America and East Europe. The deceptive actions of Byron is in line with this growing far-right repression of the state. The very immigrant labour that has since the medieval times been a necessary part of our societies to function, the very ones who cook, serve our food, clean up after the nation and much much more and the ones being targeted the most. LBRs and MXM stand in solidarity with them, and consider our immigrant communities one of the first communities we should be defending and they should be in the lead of a working class and oppressed peoples struggle against colonialism and capitalism. Our intentions of this action were to: 1. Make Byron pay for their horrifically exploitative misdeeds. 2. To inspire others to ensure Byron is shut down until they either go out of business and, they apologise to those staff impacted especially the deportees, and compensate them and their families according to sums the victims decide including any remaining wages, overtime or holiday pay due. 3. Serve as a warning to other businesses in the hospitality and catering industry that you will be targeted by those who stand in solidarity with immigrants if you entrap migrant workers. 4. We warn all immigrant communities and families that now is the time to stand up, unite, organise and push back and defeat this upsurge of anti-immigrant racism and oppression. We apologise to customers and staff for any disruption, however, with the growing climate of racism and xenophobia, a line must be drawn and we say: enough is enough. No one is 'illegal'. We've acted today in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are being deported daily. If you stand in solidarity against the underhand entrapment of its workers that Byron has carried out. You should support the actions in defence of migrant workers and refugees. London Black Revs & Malcolm X Movement Friday 29 July 2016

Earlier this week the Home Office said 35 people from Albania, Brazil, Nepal and Egypt were arrested for immigration offences at a number of restaurants across London, following an operation carried out with the "full co-operation" of Byron in July.

The burger business carried out the correct "right to work" checks on staff members, but had been shown false or counterfeit documentation, and will therefore not face civil penalty action, the Home Office said.

A Byron spokeswoman said: "The safety of our customers and restaurant teams is paramount, and our priority is now to work with local police to minimise the risk of further incident."

Some people on Twitter seem to think the insects were a step too far...

The two London branches closed on Friday night and opened later than usual on Saturday after pest control visited.

Meanwhile, the hashtag #BoycottByron is also being used on Twitter to encourage people to take their custom elsewhere.