Anti-gentrification protesters laid siege to a London “cereal cafe” on Saturday night, painting the word “scum” on the windows and protesting outside with flaming torches.
The protest was organized by a group known as Fuck Parade, with hundreds of people gathering outside the Cereal Killer cafe in Shoreditch. Customers inside the cafe describe barricading the doors in fear, and photos from the scene show protesters holding flaming torches, wearing pig masks, and carrying an effigy labeled “hipster police.”
Whatever happened in Shoreditch tonight is making my life exceedingly difficult pic.twitter.com/g2jXaEVpJu— Jamie Osman (@jamieosman) September 26, 2015
T minus 31 seconds. Heading back to Brick Lane. pic.twitter.com/7Lf47NvkWU— The state of it. (@FuckParadeLDN) September 26, 2015
The Cereal Killer cafe is seen as a symbol of hipster gentrification in London’s Shoreditch neighborhood, serving breakfast cereal at a considerable mark-up—$3.80 to $6 per bowl, plus toppings and “premium milk.” With London rents skyrocketing and forcing people to move further and further afield for affordable housing, gentrification is a hot-button issue.
Cereal cafe. £5 for cereal when people are starving. Fuck gentrification. pic.twitter.com/3mVmHFnOAT— The state of it. (@FuckParadeLDN) September 26, 2015
Fuck Parade’s tactics are obviously designed to attract attention, but many people are already pointing out the potential hypocrisy of the Cereal Killer protest. The group’s Twitter page describes Fuck Parade as “Fighting gentrification with 12 volt multi-rig street parties, furious fire eating & fireworks,” which sounds like exactly the kind of hipster event that was already emblematic of gentrification in neighborhoods like Shoreditch.
Basically, this isn’t the kind of protest you see being organized by low-income families trying to save their neighborhood from greedy landlords. Instead of being seen as a local grassroots protest, the Fuck Parade/Cereal Killer conflict is already being described as a “hipster civil war.”
Somehow a protest outside a cereal cafe seems just as twee as the bloody cafe.— Liz Buckley (@liz_buckley) September 27, 2015
There’s also the fact the Cereal Killer protest targeted a symptom of gentrification, not the underlying cause. It’s easy to see why people are angered by the symbolism of a hipster cafe selling overpriced cereal in a neighborhood where some locals struggle to pay rent, but Cereal Killer’s owners are hardly responsible for London’s lack of affordable housing.
"You can't come here and gentrify this area. We gentrified it first!" #CerealKiller— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) September 27, 2015
Given the headline-grabbing nature of the Cereal Killer protest, we probably haven’t seen the last of Fuck Parade. But in the process, they seem to have alienated a lot of people who would otherwise have agreed with the group’s anti-gentrification message.
Photo via CerealKillerUK/Twitter