It’s official. The #fuckparade has gone viral. Two previous outings generated small write ups in local papers and on blogs, most notably on #fuckparade 2 where a skirmish with a group of fascists provided the main talking point. #fuckparade 3, this time called on a hipster and rugby fan filled Saturday night in Shoreditch, kicked off in a way that even naughty anarchist troublemakers Class War couldn’t have foreseen. Paraders threw paint and cereal at the notorious Cereal Killer Cafe, smashed estate agents and kept ahead of the police the entire night. This generated a whole boatload of mainstream coverage but also rather delightfully produced the kinds of reactionary bourgeois drivel that almost looks like a parody until you realise it’s deadly serious.
A couple of key points has come of the resulting backlash that need addressing, specifically the targeting of certified ‘independent business’ the Cereal Killer Cafe and more generally the messaging for the demonstration itself.
There has been arguments that the Cereal Killer Cafe is an independent business and therefore should be protected from anti gentrification campaigners anger. These arguments are silly for a number of reasons. Just because a business is independent doesn’t exempt it from the social and economic impact it has on the communities it supposedly serves. The cereal cafe was established to serve the no good gentrifying rich hipsters that the fuckparaders are so angry about. Tower Hamlets has the lowest average wage as a borough in the whole of the UK at just over 11, 000 pounds. A cafe that sells bowls of cereal for up to £4. 50 does not seem to be something that majority of Tower Hamlets residents would particularly want for their community. The Cereal Killer cafe is a legitimate target for protest as a symbol of the invading hordes that have taken over Shoreditch, driving up rent prices and driving out ordinary people who have lived there for years. Yes hipster businesses aren’t the actual problem – capitalism and landlords are – but it is certainly a good thing that these people were made to feel unwelcome.
#fuckparade 3 succeeded in gathering a maintaining a mass of people that didn’t let themselves be broken up by the police, even towards the end of the demonstration the level of militancy and organisation meant that only one arrest took place. It could’ve been more, attempts were made to arrest others but the police were caught off guard and the fuckparaders worked together to protect those targeted. It is an example of police disorganisation that at one point a police van unrelated to the demonstration was opened and protesters gained access to an occupied transport cell. Aside from this, the demonstration was consistently angry, vibrant and loud, and most importantly attracted a greater number of people than ever before.
In some ways the messaging doesn’t matter. Yes, a few placards and flyers and a bit less drinking would have mitigated some of the backlash. But that wasn’t the point of the demonstration. The organisers got what they wanted, a loud obnoxious political street party that offended the sensibilities of the mainstream liberal left as much as the reactionary hipster wankers the protest was ostensibly about. In a time of turbulent politics that can only be a good thing.