I certainly had an eventful evening, last night. I witnessed my first British riot (technically my first riot, Saskatoon isn’t big on that sort of thing) and my first sighting of an inner city badger!
The reports are pretty mixed on the riot, but here is what I’ve picked up:
The area is similar to Broadway with lots of local shops, artisans, etc. and the locals do their best to preserve this. Mixed in are a few supermarkets, certainly enough to fill the communities needs for items not available in the smaller shops. Tesco (similar to something like Walmart, but with smaller “express” outlets) has been trying to move into the area for the past 2 years and the locals have done their best to halt Tescos’ efforts – “Say NO to Tesco” street art is everywhere; they rallied, protested, went to the council; the building of the Tesco was not advertised, hidden behind a large screen and a security guard sat on the building 24/7. Unfortunately, the Tesco was built. The community protested the opening from the very beginning, but peacefully. They had signs, set up tables with bread, rhubarb, baking, etc. and offered it to people instead of going into Tesco.
Across the street from said Tesco, is a council-0wned decrepit building being lived in by approximately 18 squatters. They put in carpets, fixed the plumbing, and the only disturbance I have seen while walking past is they don’t have great taste in music.
There was a court order for the squatters to be evicted last night; through the day people in the community reported that people were going in and out of the house with petrol-bombs, causing more police to arrive on the scene. People began to gather, barricading the streets with furniture, garbage bins, tipped trailers, bikes, etc. and anger was taken out on the Tesco. Bottles were thrown, fires started, windows smashed, and the Tesco was looted.
We had heard about the riot and didn’t like where the helicopter light was pointing, but figured we could get home no problem. Around 1:00am, we got to a point where we had to lift the bike over broken glass, and found about 25 police vans blocking the streets, chanting, and people wearing masks. It was impenetrable, so we took a detour home… where we saw a badger! If you’re not already on edge from seeing a riot, you are when there is a fricken badger running beside you. They are scary and they do not wear waistcoats.
On a better note, my sister should be in London by now and is coming to see me on Sunday! Happy Easter everyone!!
(If you would like to see photos of the Bristol riot, click here – he has some good photos!)