August 10, 2011

IconLGBT businesses hit in London as Birmingham’s Gay Village mostly escapes second night of rioting

The country’s only LGBT bookshop and a queer-friendly film distributor have both suffered losses during this week’s riots. However, the Gay Village in Birmingham was largely spared a second night of violence.

Long-running bookshop Gay’s the Word came under attack at about 12:30am on Monday morning. Witnesses reported that a group of vandals smashed the shop’s windows before pelting it with eggs.

No other shops in the area had their windows smashed, leading to speculation that the attack might have had a homophobic motive.

“They were apparently laughing their heads off as they smashed the window. One can’t jump to conclusions but the facts are there,” assistant manager Uli Lenart told Pink News. “We are just relieved that the rock wasn’t followed by a match”.

Peccadillo Pictures – the distributor of films such as Eyes Wide Open and XXY – was less fortunate. The company lost 60,000 DVDs in a warehouse fire during riots in the early hours of Tuesday morning in Enfield, North London.

“All of our DVDs have gone,” said manager Tom Abell in an interview with the Pink Paper. “The Sony warehouse held almost all of our stock and now we have nothing to sell”.

“There are lots of people taking the opportunity to loot and steal, but these riots don’t happen unless there is a root cause,” he added. “There has to be a social problem, which will now need to be addressed. It’s just a shame that so many of us have to suffer. That said, these people who are responsible should be brought to justice and punished.”

In Birmingham, the Gay Village remained largely undamaged in spite of a confrontation between rioters and police. Around 150 rioters arrived in Hurst Street and a Tesco store was looted for the second night running. However, a reported 75 riot police rapidly dispersed the group. It appears that the gay bars and clubs in the area remain undamaged.

“It looks like the mobs were running through the area, although Tesco Express has been looted for the second night running,” Equator manager Debbie Pardoe told Midlands Zone. “The police have been excellent tonight.”

The area saw violence and looting on Monday night as rioting spread throughout a number of English cities.

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Ruth Pearce

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