The battle of Stokes Croft
April 22, 2011 5:00 AM   Subscribe

"By this point there was devastation everywhere. All junctions were blocked by overturned glass bottle dumpsters and makeshift neighbourhood roadblocks blocks." Last night, a huge clash between protestors and the police kicked off in the colourful Stokes Croft area of Bristol. The cause? A recently-opened Tesco Express supermarket.
posted by hnnrs (56 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Clarification: the clash with the police occurred when the police attempted to forcefully evict squatters in a nearby building.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:04 AM on April 22, 2011 [6 favorites]

A point about the language being used by the police is made at Liberal Conspiracy which is more concerning.
posted by episodic at 5:10 AM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

cops vs crusties, darn, which side to take?
posted by unSane at 5:20 AM on April 22, 2011

Is this another "burn down the village to maintain order" move?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:22 AM on April 22, 2011

Stokes Croft backs on to St Paul's of 1980 riot infamy
The opening of Tesco has been vigorously campaigned against. And what GenjiandProust said.
posted by adamvasco at 6:00 AM on April 22, 2011

The notion of 'possible petrol bombs' being seized was the first thing that jumped out at me.

Also, forced evictions of squats coming so soon after police said they might take 'pre-emptive' action to prevent 'disruption' to the royal wedding makes me even more sceptical than normal.
posted by knapah at 6:01 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Good quality video here, less good one here.

An internet acquaintance of mine from another board who lives in the area says the "possible petrol bombs" were bottles of piss.
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:05 AM on April 22, 2011

This needs to happen in Jamaica Plain!
posted by shushufindi at 6:12 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's a sad fact that police "statements" now have to be considered as police "allegations". There's so little trust.
posted by Jehan at 6:21 AM on April 22, 2011

Labour MP for Bristol East Kerry McCarthy visited the scene in the early hours of Friday after reading reports of the disturbances on Twitter.

"I do question why the police op was carried out last night in an area full of bars where a lot of people were out drinking. It didn't seem to be a particularly sensible time to carry out an eviction of a squat that's been there for a long time."

I'm a little perplexed by the timing of the sweep, myself.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:38 AM on April 22, 2011

And who's to blame for this devastation? Yes, you guessed it: Frank Stallone.
posted by General Malaise at 6:51 AM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Beeb headline is "eight officers injured". Now, having been in a number of rough-and-tumble protests, I would bet dollars to donuts that there's a lot of protesters injured, but that doesn't make the paper because the dirty hippies were asking for it, etc etc.

And the way the British cops have been lately, with the Alfie Meadows beatdown at the student protests, and hitting that Muslim girl in the head and so on, I personally tend to assume that it's just about having some fun beating down the weak.

Petrol bombs? During the Republican National Convention here in 2008, we had informers and provocateurs who in one instance lured some dumb kid from out of state into making molotovs and in another tried to claim that the random jumble of items at someone's house were bomb implements. I don't believe stuff like this without good, good evidence.

Good on the everyone for coming out to protect the squat, is what I say.
posted by Frowner at 6:56 AM on April 22, 2011

The other thing about the raid timing is - didn't the police have anything better to do? The largest number of police you'll find out in my town is on a Friday night. Did they leave the rest of the town without proper policing for this screw-up? "No, we don't care that it's kicking off outside the nightclub, we've some peaceful squatters to thump!"
posted by Coobeastie at 7:00 AM on April 22, 2011

Frustratingly I’m not in town at the moment, but I live on Stokes Croft, and I’m pretty sure that even though the trouble might have been sparked by attempted arrests, the arrests will have been taking place right next to the new Tesco’s shop and the simmering tensions underneath are almost certainly attributable to Tesco.

There is actually surprisingly little trouble with the police on the street most of the time - until for some reason they try to “clean up” things that no one really wants them to clean up. I don’t have many more details on this at the moment but the line from the police that they were arresting people who were “dangerous to the community” is ridiculous.
posted by silence at 7:12 AM on April 22, 2011

I'm not defending the police actions in the least, but I can't help but reflect that I really like shopping at a Tesco Express - sure, there might be independent stores, but when I lived in Kew with no kitchen, I could get an affordable lunch via bread and cheese from the tesco express, for less than the cost of one pork pie from the independent (and posh) butcher next door. Now, maybe this neighborhood is cheaper than the Kew Gardens area (most places would be), but if there really were good alternative grocery stores on the same block, they would have been best off just handing out flyers every day outside until the Tesco dried up for lack of business and blew away.

and on a completely different note - that blogger seriously needs to learn how to do low-light photography - brace, man! and if that's not enough, improvise tripods with car tops or parking meters. His images arent usable in their current state.
posted by jb at 7:16 AM on April 22, 2011

Can anyone familiar with the area explain the "Telepathic Heights" area nomenclature? I have no idea what that's about, and there has to be a story behind it.
posted by misha at 7:27 AM on April 22, 2011

there are 2 Tesco stores and a Sainsbury’s shop about half a mile away from Stokes Croft.
The street currently has no chain stores on it at all, and the people of the area have fought very hard to create an identity and sense of local community. A few years ago Stokes Croft was more or less abandoned by the local council as a derelict and devastated wasteland, it’s now recognised as the most vibrant and lively area of the city. We want to protect that identity, and fear that a Tescos would be the vanguard of an army of chain stores that would turn our street into every other high street in the country.

Tesco’s applied for planning permission to build their shop under a different name, so no one had any idea that they were attempting to move in until planning permission had already been granted by the council. With very few options open to the community the proposed site of the squat was squatted while we tried to think of possible legal loopholes, and eventually the squatters evicted in a large and tense police action. Several very large protests, and packed council planning meetings later the council decided that even though there was overwhelming local opposition to the shop they had no choice but to allow Tesco to continue to open because if they had blocked the planning permission and tesco had won an appeal it would have been very expensive for the city. Unsurprisingly this generated a huge amount of resentment in the community. Tescos have had 24 hour guards behind razor wire on the roof of the shop ever since.

The shop opened a little while ago and ever since the community have had people outside protesting and giving out free food and cakes to anyone not shopping there. There has been a lot of discussion about what to do now, but everyone i have spoken to has rejected the idea of direct violence against the shop or its employees. My guess about what happened here is that the police moved into the squat thinking that they were planning some kind of action against the store. I really, really doubt they found “petrol bombs”. The sequence of events described in this flickr set and this blog seem credible to me. I suspect the police cordoned off the street and people reacted against that, and then the reciprocal police reaction caused everything to spiral out of control.
posted by silence at 7:43 AM on April 22, 2011 [6 favorites]

Telepathic Heights is the name of the house. It’s more or less directly opposite Tescos.
posted by silence at 7:44 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

The People's Republic of Stokes Croft, please.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 8:03 AM on April 22, 2011

Ten years ago I would have assumed the police had good cause, and there really were petrol bombs and a plan to attack Tesco.

Now, sadly, we've had cases like the deaths of Jean Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson, and the Mark Stone/Kennedy affair, so I'm going to assume until there's cast-iron evidence to the contrary that the police just decided to 'go in and sort out the dirty hippies' and didn't expect such resistance, and now they're trying to justify it. Trying to cover up poor policing, in other words.

Don't get me wrong, I'm pro-Tesco and anti-squatters. If you ask me about whether they should be able to site a Tesco Express there, then yes, sure.

But I also think people should be able to stand outside with placards and hand out free cake, even if they live in a squat and don't wear suits. Not have the police come in to give them a kicking to show who's in charge.
posted by alasdair at 8:27 AM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

if someone had given me free food and cake (not death), then I wouldn't have shopped at the Tesco (because I would be going there for food).

But if the neighbourhood is really agreed and all against the Tesco, wouldn't it close for lack of customers? Unless the neighbourhood isn't actually in agreement, and some people - enough to keep it in business - do want a tescos to shop at.

Areas do change and gentrify and/or chain-shopify. I used to like going to Queen West in Toronto back when it had science fiction bookstores, funky jewelry sellers and cheap Chinese food. Now it has the Gap, H&M and expensive restaurants - and I don't shop there anymore, but more other people do than ever before. I complain everytime I walk through there, but I'm also aware that neighbourhoods never keep their character long. My uncle's own Queen West in the 60's was Yorkville, which for the whole of my lifetime has been yuppie-central. Bob Dylan played there; William Gibson lived there. Now I can't afford to get basic groceries in the area. (Whole foods, you are stupidly expensive).

I can imagine it hurts to see a neighbourhood change its character -- that said, what up-and-coming neighbourhoods experience is nothing as bad as what poor-and-going-nowhere places do - in those places, they don't just put in a Tesco express, they raise whole blocks of store or walkable plazas to put in box stores. A Tesco Express is decidedly cute and neighbourhoody compared to a giant Walmart set back behind 1000 parking spaces - taking over where over a dozen independent stores were.
posted by jb at 8:58 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Some more links:

Jonathan Taphouse's Photos on Flickr some more aggregated tweets, photos and links and two different thoughts on the riot.
posted by Z303 at 9:13 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

@jb : “Areas do change and gentrify and/or chain-shopify. "

Yes, they do.
Is that a reason not to try to resist?
posted by silence at 9:15 AM on April 22, 2011

Surely there's a Blair-era law that can be brought in to impose martial law on Stokes Croft, including an armed curfew, bring in paramilitary police to sweep the area and remove anybody who may be a potential threat to national security, which includes the stock price of Tesco, prohibiting them from entering Stokes Croft or talking about the terms of the order restricting them from doing so.
posted by acb at 9:29 AM on April 22, 2011

>"if there really were good alternative grocery stores on the same block, they would have been best off just handing out flyers every day outside until the Tesco dried up for lack of business and blew away. "

That's not really how it works in an area with a lot of office workers that live elsewhere and a corporation with millions of pounds behind it. Tesco can starve out the competitors in the area with artificially lower prices, and like with anything, we have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable but valuable local shops who have less leverage to be heard by the council, - who are quite frankly, fucking useless when it comes to developing the city. If you want an example, take a walk along West Street in Bedminster and look at the results of poor planning capped by a Tesco Express. Those stores (and often, the corresponding apartment buildings that price local people out of the property market) are a giant beacon that screams "no one cares what you want, no one will listen to you when you speak, shut up and sit down".

Bristol is a diverse, interesting city with so many resources, there's no need to have thirty one of any chain corporation when there's only 421,000 people. We* need local supermarkets and affordable housing to keep the infrastructure strong and reduce the ghettos of poverty that you find on the outskirts of the city. Yet the exact opposite seems to be happening, against everyone's wishes. It's mindboggling.

*disclaimer: I now live in the US, so when I say "we", it's more about my friends and family than myself.
posted by saturnine at 9:32 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

@jb : “Areas do change and gentrify and/or chain-shopify. "

I'm not against change (I don't live in Stoke Croft but I'm less than a mile away up the hill).

If it was me, getting rid of the massage parlours would have been a better start or doing something with Westmore Land House which has been empty since 1986
posted by Z303 at 9:34 AM on April 22, 2011

I would seriously doubt the presence of petrol bombs at the squat. At this point, if a police spokesman says it's raining outside, I look out the window. However, now that this has occured, I would not be surprised in the least if that Tesco should happen to catch fire.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:41 AM on April 22, 2011

Another comprehensive link roundup.
posted by Z303 at 9:45 AM on April 22, 2011

> "A Tesco Express is decidedly cute and neighbourhoody compared to a giant Walmart set back behind 1000 parking spaces - taking over where over a dozen independent stores were."

It's really not.

In the US, Walmarts are framed by zoning laws and freeways, and aren't generally something you can see from your house (I can't see mine). In Bristol, Tesco Express shops are taking the space of two or three potential smaller ones in semi-residential neighbourhoods and aren't being built to conform within the aesthetic norm for the local buildings (in fact, they're demolishing old but working buildings and replacing them with badly designed "modern" ones, see: West Street in Bedminster).

The reason that local shops are acceptable near houses is precisely because they're run by our neighbours, aren't open 24 hours and feed back into the local economy. If Tesco were even trying to fit in with local standards, that would be one thing, but they're not. They're ugly, they're cheap, profits go elsewhere and we're all left poorer.
posted by saturnine at 9:50 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Street view of the Tesco on West Street. The newsagents on the left has been there for decades.
posted by saturnine at 9:58 AM on April 22, 2011

you can't see the Walmart from your house because you live in a nice neighbourhood. my mom's bus stop is in front of a Walmart, in a poor neighbourhood with lots of involuntary pedestrians (aka can't afford a car). In Cambridge, UK, the whole of Newmarket road - the poorer part of town - was colonised by box stores. What I was saying is that I've lived in old English town centres and seen what chain shops do there, and I've seen what box stores do to poorer areas in both the UK and Canada, and the former is still preferrable to the latter.

And I do have a problem with people fighting change when it can turn into NIMBYism. Unless one can claim never to shop at any chain stores, really what you are asking for is for someone else to have to put up with them. Lots of middle class people like shopping at Tescos and Walmart, but they want them to be put in my neighbourhood.
posted by jb at 10:09 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was so lost in the supermarket...

Where I used to live some locals won a victory against McDonalds to keep them out of the area. The result? 3am was very annoying, since there was only one place open.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:10 AM on April 22, 2011

They're ugly, they're cheap, profits go elsewhere and we're all left poorer.

'Ugly and cheap' describes a few of the local shops I've been to too. Charming, but ugly and cheap.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:12 AM on April 22, 2011

This article in the Independent 'The last great British high street' goes some way to explaining how that area is different. Gloucester Road is what the A38 become a little further north.
posted by Z303 at 10:31 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

" Lots of middle class people like shopping at Tescos and Walmart, but they want them to be put in my neighbourhood."

And lots of people keep trying to insist this issue is being fought by middle class people, but it's not. It's being fought by working class people like myself that have seen our neighbourhoods bought up by developers, our local grocers and butchers and newsagents forced out by rent increases and replaced by coffee shops we don't need and flats we can't afford to live in.

I actually live within walking distance of a Ralphs (Kroger) here in the US, and my mum lives near the very controversial Sainsburys sites in Bristol. They're about the same size - although I think the existing Sainsburys actually has a larger parking lot. They're zoned correctly, and I oppose neither, because they're appropriate for the neighbourhoods they're in (they fulfil a need to the local community that benefits everyone).

Tesco Express stores are not the same type of service - they're designed to emulate and destroy local services. They're exactly the same as Starbucks.
posted by saturnine at 10:36 AM on April 22, 2011

*emulate and destroy local small services.
posted by saturnine at 10:38 AM on April 22, 2011

I don't know the street in question at all -- maybe there, unlike everywhere I've lived, butchers and local shops are actually affordable (instead of being super-expensive places). And I fully support peaceful protest, whatever the situation. But this situation wasn't exactly a sit-in, and even the suggestion of direct action against the employees? how could anyone even think of that - the employees have no choice about where shops are put.

Also, I do have to make a disclaimer - compared to people I grew up with, "working class" (as in having a steady, above minimum wage job) is priviledged. The car and house-owning people of my city ward who supported the Walmart going in were majority blue-collar, but compared to the poorer people in the apartment buildings and senior citizens who have to negotiate the pedestrian's nightmare that our neighbourhood has become, they are middle-class.
posted by jb at 10:55 AM on April 22, 2011

Well, I grew up on welfare and neither of my parents held a steady job after I was 8 (they're both unemployed now, that much I know). I don't have an education beyond my AS levels and I'm only middle class thanks to marrying my husband and moving to the US. I've held jobs like: working in a call center and being a cleaner. Most of the people I've known in the UK until recently haven't done much better in life.

Do I win the poverty authenticity you're craving here jb, or should I start talking about when I was homeless? This isn't a class issue, the people protesting yet another Tesco Express on top of the other THIRTY ONE, are not overtly privileged people. They just care about their community and want to see something better for themselves and their kids than this. This is an entirely legitimate opinion to hold whether you're rich or dirt poor.
posted by saturnine at 11:06 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

oh, and our Walmart is zoned correctly as well. So what if the layout within that design went exactly contrary to city plans to improve walkability and safety? It's only poor people who walk and take the bus. Our current mayor - Rob Ford - actively approved of the project, and is now campaigning against "the war against cars". (the cars are winning).

This isn't directly relevant to the Stokes Croft issue - but I wanted to make the point that in terms of destroying neighbourhoods, there are much worse developments, but they happen in less fashionable and less articulate places.

And I still have to ask: whose Stokes Croft? If the community really is united, there won't be business for the Tesco. If people are happy with the local shops and their services, they will continue to go there and pay even a premium. But I can tell you that I glad to have a Tesco express when I lived in Kew, because I couldn't afford to shop in any of the "local shops"; and when I lived in the US, I noticed that the "evil" chain coffee shop offered not only better prices than the local shop, but hired a lot more non-white people. (The local shop had an all white staff in a minority-majority city). So I'm not always convinced that local shops are the best thing.
posted by jb at 11:07 AM on April 22, 2011

saturnine - then you should understand what I'm talking about. I'm no fan of how the big chains use their deeper pockets to undermine cheap local shops. Heck, in my area, Walmart didn't just undermine the local shops - it just bought the whole of the stripmall filled with owner-operated places and bulldozed it. but I'm also no fan of either local shops or certain areas claiming special privileges because they have "character". This is one rather small chain shop, and what I was saying is that if the community really doesn't want chain shops, they won't survive.

But I can tell you that the people in Queen West did want chain shops - so did Yorkville. Those places thrive the way they are. And the loudest people in Stokes croft may not represent the will of the area.
posted by jb at 11:20 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

"the new bohemia of the late 20th and early 21st centuries plays a necessarily novel role in enhancing the interests of postindustrial capitalist enterprises, especially property speculation, entertainment provision, and new media production."
— Richard Lloyd, Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City
"But recently community projects like 'the Peoples' Republic of Stokes Croft' have been helping to develop the area. Buildings have been revamped and pubs and shops are encouraged and nurtured."
Sam Barnard, local student.

Obviously all that nuturing and revamping is precisely what brought Tesco to the area in the first place. Lloyd calls it imperalist nostalgia - protesting the passing of what they themselves helped to transform.
posted by AlsoMike at 11:27 AM on April 22, 2011

jb Toronto =/= Bristol
Please stop trying to compare them.
posted by adamvasco at 12:19 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why should he stop trying to compare them? Bits of Yorkville and Queen West (and East for that matter) are very comparable to bits of Bristol. If you disagree, say why.
posted by unSane at 1:15 PM on April 22, 2011

Apples to Oranges really. Toronto is Canada's largest city with about 2.5 million people and a greater area population of 5.5 million Compared to Bristol which is Britain's 9th city with 0.5million. Also Walmart does not = Tesco etc etc.
When were the last riots in Yorkville and Queen West.
Stokes Croft and St. Paul's are small local areas which are both close knit and have fought hard to get and keep a community growing.
There are already two other Tesco stores in less than a quarter of a mile away in either direction.
Also Plod has show his normal cultural insensitivity by raiding a long established squat just before a holiday weekend. What does this mean Four people have been arrested, Avon and Somerset police said, because they posed "a real threat to the local community" in the Stokes Croft area of the city They wore hoodies or had dreads?
Tesco is predatory. Here is another one and another and another
Here are the charming people planning all this.
Tesco has one of the best-paid boards in the FTSE 100, with all eight executive directors of the supermarket group pocketing well over £1.5m. All but two earned over £2m.
posted by adamvasco at 2:04 PM on April 22, 2011

When were the last riots in Yorkville and Queen West.

I guess you slept through the whole G20 thing.
posted by unSane at 2:15 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

People keep saying neighborhoods change, this is true. However, gentrification is and an inundation of chain stores is not necessarily the change that we want.

There are plenty of communities that have successfully kept their character. Of course the population had to get directly involved, because the large corporations are experts at manipulating local governments.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 3:18 PM on April 22, 2011

If the community really is united, there won't be business for the Tesco.

They will make their money preying on the poor, who will have to choose between doing the "right" thing and saving their money. This is the same argument Wal-Mart makes: "Well, if they didn't like us, we wouldn't be filthy rich!

But they always target the poorest places. You don't see Wal-Marts in upper class neighborhoods because the rich wouldn't stand for it. It's poorer areas the population will be less willing to trade their high-falutin' ideals for the practical realities of feeding and clothing their kids.

They target the weak and use their gigantic marketplace clout to under-price and out-live local competitors. Local competitors who are employing… (drumroll)… local people. So the optometrist and the pharmacist and the grocer and the butcher and their sundry assistants shutter their doors, only to get re-hired at a fraction of their former wages.

Wal-Mart uses the lower classes to slowly gnaw and feed off the middle class' wealth, churning and digesting and finally excreting them inexorably into more lower classes that then depend on them like a drug fiend depends on their dealer.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:42 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Correction: poorer areas the population will be more willing to trade their high-falutin' ideals for the practical realities.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:44 PM on April 22, 2011

The only thing about this that is unbelievable to me is how many people in Britain apparently think the police are trustworthy. Police are at best a neutral party. Never trustworthy. Never. One cop might be a decent person. Two cops? At that point the institutionalization kicks in.
posted by Peztopiary at 3:20 AM on April 23, 2011

From the linked blog "No Tesco in Stokes Croft":
"Tesco have considerable experience of opening outlets where they are unwanted."
Why do they open shops in areas where they are "unwanted"? Because people shop there, and that makes them "wanted".

One of the comments in this thread:
"You don't see Wal-Marts in upper class neighborhoods because the rich wouldn't stand for it."

Prestbury seems to be a neighbourhood for wealthy people. Prestbury High Street was allegedly destroyed without chain stores like Tesco, because people there prefer shopping at the nearest Tesco (and other shops) outside the village.

"[...] the population at large doesn't use local services. For businesses to work, residents must use the village." Rich residents like Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tévez choose Waitrose Deliver, and the rest of the villagers drive to Tesco Macclesfield.
posted by iviken at 1:56 PM on April 23, 2011

@iviken -
Tesco Express operate in the same way that any huge retail business operates in these circumstances. They will move into an area and use their ability to sell some common items at a loss in order to undercut the existing local shops and drive them out of business. While they appear to be cheaper, in many, many cases they actually aren’t cheaper than the existing shops (as part of the Stokes Croft campaign several people carried out ongoing surveys of Tesco prices compared to the prices for the same goods in local shops and produced a series of posters which people displayed in their windows).

Some people make the claim that having a Tescos will bring employment and money to a poor neighbourhood. But in reality they have the opposite effect - The single Tescos that replaces several local shops employs far fewer people, and any profits they make are syphoned out of the area for good, in contrast to the profits made by local shops which tend to be spent in the area thus helping to improve the local economy.

If you want to have a Tesco Express in your street that’s fine by me. The point is that we REALLY DIDN’T. A huge campaign was organised which surveyed hundreds of people in the area with an overwhelming majority against the shop. Stokes croft is a street with no chain stores at the moment, and we would like to keep it that way - is there anything wrong with that?

You may say that if people don’t want the shop then they won’t buy anything there and it’ll close down - but Stokes Croft is now a major destination for people from outside the area who come for the bars and nightlife, and they will very probably buy stuff there. But these people now come to the area because of the huge amount of work put in by the people that live and work there who have turned what was very recently a desolate no-go area into a vibrant and exiting place, and who now want to defend the place they have built. Is that unreasonable?
posted by silence at 9:58 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

urgh. exiting = exciting.
posted by silence at 10:00 AM on April 24, 2011

@silence -
"Stokes Croft is now a major destination for people from outside the area who come for the bars and nightlife (...)"

Some people dislike bars and nightlife in their area, especially when the bars are used by non-locals.
Example 1: "Manayunk bars ruining the neighborhood?"
"You put 1,000 drunk people out on the streets, something happens every night,” said Kevin Smith, president of the Manayunk Neighborhood Association."

Example 2: "The princes' pal is ruining my neighbourhood":
"Noise is one thing. Residents have been forced to live with far worse: couples copulating at dawn, girls urinating in the street, vomit on their doorsteps, used condoms on the pavement, bouncers yelling and shouting. A disabled local resident cannot use his electric wheelchair on the pavement as it is crowded with patrons; frequently they hurl abuse at him, like, “Here comes Nigel Mansel!” The disabled bay at the end of the road is constantly in use – by very able patrons. Local children play in the street littered with broken bottles from last night’s binge."

Other people dislike supermarkets - or a lack of supermarkets - in their area.

"A Bristol shop-owner says not everyone is opposed to plans to turn a former comedy club into a Tesco. Geoff Gardiner, who runs Fred Baker Cycles next to the former Jesters Comedy Club, in Stokes Croft, says it is "either Tesco or decay". (...)
Mr Gardiner, 40, said: "We are not anti Tesco, or pro Tesco. But not everyone around here is so against a Tesco opening up. The way I see it, it is either Tesco or decay. I can't see any other shop wanting to open up there with no parking allowed on the road outside.

"When I put bikes out in the morning, people often stop to have a chat and I have noticed that the squatters have been losing a lot of support because of this. A lot of people actually want a Tesco there.

He said the area needs a convenience store such as Tesco in the area, and believes it would not take trade away from other shops.

He said: "Local people won't shop there. It will be people that are passing, on their way home or on their way to get a bus, that shop there. And they are not people who would have shopped at the delicatessen or shops anyway – so I don't see how their trade will be affected."

It's not always a good thing to have inner city areas without chain stores - known as "food deserts" or "supermarket shortage".

Small local shops don't always pay their workers better than supermarkets and other chain stores. Low pay and long hours are more the norm than an exception for small shops.
posted by iviken at 6:15 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

But *IN THIS SITUATION, IN THIS STREET* - we like our street the way we have fought hard to make it. We like our free shops and little coffee houses and our home made museum and our studios and furniture repair shops and record shops and clubs and cooperatives. I’m sure that there are many streets that would love to have a Tescos, perhaps even most, - but this isn’t an abstract statistical norm, this is a specific situation and we don’t want to have a Tescos. Is that so difficult to understand?

Bizarrely I’m writing this with bottles and other missiles flying past my window.

The street is a complete war zone again tonight. I was just going to bed when I heard the sirens etc. Police just turned up for no reason whatsoever as far as I can tell and decided to occupy the street, just to assert their control and prove that they could if they wanted to. But they did it completely incompetently and ended up getting surrounded by shouting crowds who built barricades around them so they couldn't get out - then riot horses and dogs turned up and charged the crowd and then bottles started flying.

A good time was had by all. The police incompetence was so great they attempted to kettle the crowd in a portion of the street that has a side street leading off it, so people in the kettle just left by the side street, looped around and came up behind the police leaving the them sandwiched between two lines of people yelling at them. Which, understandably, threw them into a complete panic resulting in a lot of lashing out with batons and dogs. Several police vans got smashed up and the police ended up just holding little enclaves and defending arbitrary lines in the street. Even they couldn't explain why they were there except apparently to "protect the street" - a hilarious irony since there would be nothing going on but the normal thursday night dancing and merriment if they weren't there.

The speed at which suddenly huge numbers of police in riot gear and horses and dogs turned up seems very suspicious to me - I suspect that whoever organised it wasn’t entirely naive about what would happen if the police charged into a street full of several hundred slightly drunken people. I didn’t see a single person I recognised in the crowds tonight - as far as I can tell the people trapped in the kettle and subsequently kicking off tonight were overwhelmingly people who had come to the area for the evening just go to the bars and clubs.

Irritatingly I didn't get many good pictures or video since my phone ran out of batteries.

I look forward to seeing how the press report it tomorrow.
Whatever they say, it wasn't my fault.
posted by silence at 6:47 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

one nice touch - to commemorate the royal wedding, at one point everyone in the kettle was singing the national anthem. :)
posted by silence at 7:44 PM on April 28, 2011

Another interesting development - yesterday the Police broke up a peaceful showing of a film about last week’s riots. see :
posted by silence at 8:31 PM on April 28, 2011

« Older She Comes In Colors   |   Have you ever printed a boarding pass? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments