A large mob broke out in east London outside the Cereal Killer Cafe on Saturday night.
The crowd of nearly 200 people was gathered to protest gentrification in the surrounding neighbourhood of Shoreditch. They caused damage to a few businesses, one of which was the Cereal Killer Cafe.
Tonight we were attacked with paint and fire by an angry mob of 200. Riot police are on the scene. pic.twitter.com/GPXLmyMmuN
— Cereal Killer Cafe (@CerealKillerUK) September 26, 2015
The cafe was opened as an independent restaurant in 2014 by twin brothers Alan and Gary Keery. They offer a wide selection cereal accompanied by one of their dozens of options for milk.
Will Harvey is one of the protesters and he wrote an article in The Guardian newspaper. It said:
“Many parents in the area suffer the indignity of relying on food banks to feed their children while the new Shoreditch residents can make a successful business selling children’s cereal for £5 a bowl.”
It wasn’t the first time the Keery’s had heard this criticism and knew exactly how to respond. They said:
“I can charge whatever I like. For the record, our bowls cost between £2.50 to £4.50. That is good value for a sit down meal. We have to pay rent, wages, tax and other overheads. If people don’t want to pay those prices, we’ll go out of business. It is simple.”
The mob, who call themselves “F**ck Parade”, started gathering around 8pm on Saturday. The scene lasted well into the night and continued to be volatile until 12:30am Sunday. It was like a snapshot out of The Purge. The crowd was throwing smoke bombs and paint, they carried torches and wore plastic masks.
Gary acknowledged the message behind the demonstration. He stated:
“The people that have done this, they obviously have a point to prove, but they went about it completely the wrong way…protesting against the class war by targeting an independent business. We’re being used as a scapegoat for a bit of publicity. (…) They claimed to be protesting about gentrification, but they attacked a small business owned by two working class lads from Belfast. They said we are part of the problem. We pay our taxes. Why not protest outside Canary Wharf or the Houses of Parliament. This is violence for violence’s sake. These people claim to have their beliefs, but why did they have their faces covered.”
Despite his understanding, the situation was still absolutely frightening for the staff at the cafe as well as the patrons who remained in the restaurant. For safety, the doors were barricaded and customers were moved to the basement until the mob broke up. Alan said:
“It was like a witch hunt. There were people with pitchforks, pig heads and fire torches. It was like something from the Middle Ages. It was a bunch of anarchists who are trying to represent the poor people of East London and it’s ridiculous. They were all boozing in the streets, there was a lot of obscenity. There were about 200 people with torches outside the shop. They were throwing paint bombs at the window and they tried to bash down the door. There was a family with kids in the cafe – it was terrifying.”
The mob’s website tried to justify their actions by explaining the apparent purpose. The site stated:
“We don’t want luxury flats that no one can afford, we want genuinely affordable housing. We don’t want pop-up gin bars or brioche buns – we want community. Soon this city will be an unrecognisable, bland, yuppie-infested wasteland with no room for normal (and not so normal) people like us. London is our home and worth defending against this onslaught of dog-eat-dog economics. Working class people are being forced out of our homes but we won’t go out without a fight.”
By the sounds of it, their plan might have backfired. The Keery brothers said that they won’t “let the bullies stop” them and they meant it! They reopened Sunday morning with offers from decorating companies to repaint their cafe. Business was booming as usual. Gary stated:
“Today, we’ve been busier than ever with people coming around to show us support.”
Moral here, you can’t prove a point by wearing pig masks and scaring people. And you certainly won’t be taken seriously with a name like “F**k Parade”. So while poverty in Shoreditch is an issue that needs addressing, maybe they should head back to the drawing board to find a more peaceful approach.
news 2015 “Cereal Killer Cafe in Brick Lane, east London with paint and smoke bombs last night” Youtube. 27 September 2015. Web. 29 September 2015.
***The Metropolitan police report:
“On Saturday, October 26, police officers dealt with disorder arising from a pre-planned event in the Shoreditch area. From around 20:00hrs, a criminal element within a group of several hundred people threw missiles and caused criminal damage to shops and other businesses in and around Brick Lane, E2. The group continued to move around the Shoreditch and Brick Lane area until around 00:30hrs on Sunday, 27 October. One officer suffered a minor injury to his face as a result of a bottle thrown. One person has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.”