Free Osime Brown: Protesters gather in George Square to stop deportation
“Is there a bus from Jamaica to Dudley so I can visit you?” This was the first thing Osime Brown asked his mother as he was issued deportation orders.
A 22-year-old man from Dudley, England, Osime is a severely autistic man who is facing potential deportation to Jamaica, – a country he left when he was only four and where he has no family, friends or support network.
Over the weekend, demonstrations took place in London and Glasgow ahead of today, which represents the Home Office’s deadline to review its decision to proceed with Brown’s removal.
In 2018, Osime Brown was jailed for stealing a friend’s mobile phone, a crime both he and others say he did not commit. He was subsequently sentenced to five years under the controversial Joint Enterprise Law, which establishes that an individual can be jointly convicted of the crime of another if the court decides they foresaw what the other party was likely to commit.
As a consequence of the conviction, Brown’s indefinite leave to remain was automatically retracted, thus meaning that his early release from prison translated into Osime being threatened with deportation.
His family have expressed their fear and concern about the situation, which they defined as a “life-death”. Diagnosed with autism and depression, Osime’s condition seemed to have deteriorated during his time in prison. The man now experiences sensory overloads, fainting, self-harming, severe anxiety, and PTSD on a daily basis.
Joan Martin, the man’s mother, told The Guardian that, should her son be deported, his complex needs would make it impossible for him to survive alone in Jamaica, where he doesn’t know anybody. For this reason, in fact, Brown’s immigration lawyers are opposing his deportation on health and humanitarian grounds.
As the case attracted national attention, more than 100 influential names have signed a letter asking the Home Secretary for a U-turn on the decision. A petition to allow Osime to stay in the UK has also attracted more than 408,000 signatures.
A rally in George Square
In Scotland, George Square saw supporters join a rally featuring speeches by Roza Salih, Paul Sweeney MSP and many others.
Speaking at the event, Glasgow Girl Roza Salih stressed the inhumane nature of the UK’s immigration system. “For how long are we going to fight this inhumane system?” she said. “Until I’ll be 90 and I’m going to be on my deathbed? I want a country that respects human rights. Deportation is life destruction which I and many of my friends have experienced.”
According to both campaigners and Osime’s family, the man has been repeatedly failed by the social care and education system. Over the years, he has been moved through 28 care home placements and hasn’t been provided with adequate support to cope with the challenges that come with his learning disability.
Chloe Whyte, one of the organisers of the rally, was appalled when she first read the man’s story in the autistic networks she’s personally involved with. “I’m not a person of colour nor do I have a background as an immigrant,” she said. “As an autistic person, however, we’ve all faced some difficulties with the police, such as them interpreting our behaviour as either rude or aggressive.”
These misinterpretations are part of a pattern in which the needs of people with autism are neglected. This is most common with autistic Black men who, Whyte said, “are already misinterpreted so often by police.” In the case of Osime Brown, for instance, Whyte explained that the judge refused to hear the psychological report in court because, he said, “it will not affect his decision.”
Should the Home Office decide today to go ahead with Brown’s deportation, a case management hearing is scheduled for 21 June. A date for an appeal will then be set.
If you would like to help or get involved, you can do so by signing the petition against Osime Brown’s deportation, donating on GoFundMe or by writing to your local MP about the case. More information can be found here.