Brick Lane businesses: protesters wrong about threat of gentrification

Pic: Cereal Killer Café on Brick Lane. Credit: Lamees Altalebi

Pic: Cereal Killer Café on Brick Lane. Credit: Lamees Altalebi

Brick Lane businesses have spoken out in support of the owners of the fashionable cafe attacked last weekend by anti-gentrification protesters.

Don Moore, of the Hookah Lounge – two doors away from the Cereal Killer Cafe which was targeted on September 26 –  said the anti-gentrification activists were “protesting to the wrong people”.

“Cereal Killer Café is the symptom of gentrification and not the cause,” he added.

The owner of another neighbouring shop, who wished to remain anonymous, told EastLondonLines: “In terms of us running a business [Cereal Killer Café] hasn’t had a huge impact, it’s probably brought more footfall, put Brick Lane more on the map – it certainly hasn’t hurt anyone.”

One hundred angry protesters threw paint and graffitied the word ‘scum’ on the shop’s windows in what they described as a street party to “stand up to gentrification”.

Those behind the event – dubbed the Fuck Parade – told EastLondonLines that the cafe was “an insult to one of the poorest places in the country where people are going hungry”.

The Cereal Killer Café which opened on Brick Lane in December 2014 sells cereal for around £4.40 per bowl. Alan Keery, 33, who owns Cereal Killer Café with his twin brother Gary, told EastLondonLines: “There is poverty all over the UK, but you can’t make us feel bad about our charges because it is a much bigger problem. It is the government.”

The demonstrators are believed to be part of Class War, an anarchist group which started as a newspaper and then turned into a political party. The protesters wrote: “We don’t want luxury flats that no one can afford, we want genuinely affordable housing.”

One local shop owner said the first he knew of it was when he heard “obnoxious” music and a large group of people chanting, some wearing pig masks, at around 8pm.

But Moore of the Hookah Lounge, who also witnessed the protest, said: “They did not seem aggressive to me. Only one window at one estate agent was smashed. There are not broken windows except for that.”


However a police officer was taken to hospital after he had a bottle thrown at him during the protest.

Superintendent Pete Turner, from Tower Hamlets Police said: “Whilst we respect and will facilitate the right to peaceful protest we will never condone violence. My officers are currently reviewing the CCTV from both the cafe and the local authority.”

Boris Johnson also condemned the anti-gentrification demo after visiting the Cereal Killer Café on Monday 28.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to call the police non-emergency line on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.

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