I am not a born and bred East Londoner, but I have now lived here for 5 years and it is a place that I am proud to call my home. I joke a lot about how I rarely leave my beloved Eastend, but it’s true. My boyfriend has built his own business in Shoreditch and we eat,drink and socialise in the area.
Brick Lane is the place that convinced me to move to London; before I stumbled across the cobbled streets I couldn’t see myself fitting in with big, glossy city life. Then one sunny afternoon I sat outside Vibe Bar with a pint in hand watching the varying array of people strolling by and knew that this was the place I could belong.
Like so many places in East London Vibe Bar was forced to close its doors. This and other other disheartening events make it undeniable that Shoreditch has changed and is the cause of the aggression demonstrated at the weekend.
Despite understanding how the protesters got to this boiling point I could not help be utterly saddened by the events that took place on Saturday night. Flicking through the news on our way back from an idyllic family wedding, I was shocked to see scenes of violence and thuggery that had taken over the streets I walk down daily.
Just in case you are not caught up on the headlines, as part of an Anti-gentrification protest, people took to the streets to ‘reclaim Shoreditch’. Because –
“Our communities are being ripped apart – by Russian oligarchs, Saudi Sheiks, Israeli scumbag property developers, Texan oil-money twats and our own home-grown Eton toffs. Local authorities are coining it in, in a short sighted race for cash by “regenerating” social housing.
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.”
I absolutely agree that there is a Class War within the UK (which can especially be seen in London); flat prices keep rising at a much higher rate than wages, buildings are being demolished and replaced with generic glossy blocks, flats purchased by corporations at a ridiculously high value are then left empty most of the year (out pricing the people who actually live in the area) and chains are taking over what used to be interesting independent businesses – to name but a few of the key issues.
The system is broken. The dream of capitalism trickling down through all levels of society is not happening, however, I simply cannot support a movement which seems to have no purpose other than destroying the area and community which they state is their mission to reclaim.
The term ‘hipster’ has been used by the media as a scape goat for the changes in East London whilst the corporations and developers have made their way in. The first time I commented on this was back when Cereal Killers cafe opened. A Channel 4 reporter swept in and tried to make the same point as #FuckParade – with 49% of the borough’s children living in poverty how could these ‘hipsters’ justify charging £3.20 for a bowl of cereal?
Seems like a fair point on the surface, doesn’t it? But what if I put it to you that Costa coffee opened around the same time offering coffee for the same price, there are also 3 Prets, a Subway and various other chains popping up along the way. Why are these large chains not being treated with the same disgust?
I am not condoning taking violence action against any business, but would these faceless corporations not seem like a more obvious target rather than an independent business with a quirky idea? Also, the whole mentality seemed all too similar to when I was a child and my mum used to say, “there are children dying of starvation” if I didn’t finish my dinner. I understand that the point was to be grateful, however the problem was not me not eating my peas. The problem was buying too much food. If she was that bothered then surely the money she would save by not over shopping could be put towards a charity who provides aid or a way for the starving countries of the world to farm and provide their own food. With both these concepts there is a miscommunication between a very real problem and how to actually solve it.
And what is the positive outcome of terrorising these local ‘hipster’ businesses? They’ll soon all shut up shop, new independent business will be afraid to open up leaving empty units prime for developers to swoop in and snap them up at bargain prices?
It was another one of those social movements that addressed an increasing issue but in a completely misguided way. I am not saying that I have the answer to such a large social issue, however, I don’t see how #FuckParade made any positive impact by the weekend’s events.
However maybe I am wrong, I was not there and the media often reports in favour of whoever is paying them. So please let me know if you have a different view, as all I have seen so far is aggression and stereotyping, and I am sure that that was not the intent of everyone who marched.
If you want to read more about the events Posh, Broke and Bored shared her first hand account over on her blog