Gangs fight armed battle in Mile End street on eve of police neighbourhood safety campaign

Eric Street. Graphic: Laurence Dodds

Two rival gangs armed with knives,machetes and a pick axe fought a pitched battle in a Mile End street yesterday evening, according to eyewitnesses.

The disturbances, in Eric Street, E3,  near Mile End Park were described by the local residents association as ‘’violent chaos’ and came the evening before Tower Hamlets council and local police launch a campaign for safer local neighbourhoods . The first meeting is tonight in Bromley-By-Bow.

According to eyewitness reports by local residents, reported on the blog of the Mile End Residents Association, the youths  discarded  their weapons in gardens and open spaces in the surrounding area as they fled.  The fighting took place at about 10pm last night.

According to the blog, the incident started when a group of young men arrived on the estate in a dark car and chased some local men off Eric Street, cornering them by the entrance to Windermere House. The blog says: ”They were attacked with knives but managed to make their get away. Blood was found in the area but the extent of their injuries is unknown. The assailants returned to their car and sped off.”

A further attack was witnessed near the grass area on Eric Street. The weapon used was said to have been a pick axe. At least one person was seen with blood coming from what appeared to be a head injury.

Mark Twain, of Mile End Residents Association, said: “It was shocking to see the amount of weaponry they had.”

Three knives, a monkey wrench and a machette have been since been found. Twain also said: “I saw the machette myself, the blade was about eighteen inches long.”

Although scared residents reported the fight to police, once officers  reached the scene the gangs had dispersed.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Locals rang up to say they’d seen a fight but by the time we got down there, there was no one there – they’d all run off.”

The gangs were reportedly not from Mile End as they left in a car shouting: “F**k you Mile End p*****s!”

Eyewitnesses say that the heavily armed gangs, that amounted to about 40 people, were all Asian men. They began fighting after tensions rose during the night. Twain says: “It is a bit disturbing, it appears there is some history [between the groups] but I don’t know the background.”

The series of Safer Neighbourhood Public Meeting’s in the area start tonight in Bromley-by-Bow.

Local residents have been invited by the police to discuss their experiences of crime and anti-social behaviour in the borough. Tower Hamlets council says it is an opportunity to find out how the council and the police are working in partnership to make the area safer, also giving residents a chance to raise any concerns and help set future goals.

These meetings are likely to be used by police to attempt to regain trust from skeptical Mile End residents concerned that police were unable to make any arrests.

The meeting will take place from 6.45pm to 9pm in the following places:

Bromley-by-Bow – Tuesday May 29: Kingsley Hall Community Centre, Powis Road, E3 3HJ

St Dunstan’s & Stepney Green – Thursday May 31: The Harford MultiCentre, 115 Harford Street, Stepney, E1 4FG

Mile End East – Thursday June 7: Bow Road Methodist Church, 1 Merchant Street, Bow, E3 4LY

Weavers – Tuesday June 12: St Hilda’s East Community Centre, 18 Club Row, E2 7EY

Spitalfields & Banglatown – Thursday June 14: Kobi Nazrul Centre, 30 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR

By Louisa Plumstead

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