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Too cool for Shoreditch?

A popular cafe in east London has been targeted by an angry mob after finding itself an unwilling symbol of gentrification and inequality. On Saturday night, hundreds of masked protesters descended on Shoreditch’s Cereal Killer cafe, painting “Scum” on its front window and setting fire to an effigy of a police officer.

Cereal Killer cafe has been the subject of intense media interest since twin brothers Gary and Alan Keery set it up in December. Located in a historically low-income area, it sells bowls of American-style cereal at around £3.20, the equivalent of NZ$7.70. It sells 120 different kinds of cereals from around the world, presented with 13 different milks and other toppings.

However, its trendy ‘hipster’ image has rubbed some in the Shoreditch community up the wrong way. The protest which hit Cereal Killer was titled the ‘F**k Parade’ and organised online. Its Facebook events page speaks of music and dancing, but also calls for working class people to stand up against “dog-eat-dog economics”.

“Our communities are being ripped apart – by Russian oligarchs, Saudi Sheiks, Israeli scumbag property developers, Texan oil-money twats and our own home-grown Eton toffs. Local authorities are coining it in, in a short sighted race for cash by “regenerating” social housing.

We don’t want luxury flats that no one can afford, we want genuinely affordable housing. We don’t want pop-up gin bars or brioche buns – we want community.

Soon this City will be an unrecognisable, bland, yuppie infested wasteland with no room for normal (and not so normal) people like us.”

One protester told The Guardian that the cafe was targeted because it was a “symbol of gentrification”, saying a nearby real estate agent up the road was also attacked.

Customers, including children, were on the premises at the time of the violent event. Gary Keery told The Guardian that staff barricaded the cafe doors and moved customers downstairs for safety. A smoke bomb and some furniture was thrown into the shop when protesters managed to break in, and one officer from the Metropolitan Police sustained a facial injury when a bottle was thrown. No other injuries are being reported. The riot police were called in to disperse the crowd.

Keery defended Cereal Killer’s position in the community to The Guardian, saying it was a fledgling independent business with just two branches. Other businesses in the area were more appropriate targets, he said.

“If you want to talk about gentrification and different classes, you don’t go about attacking independent businesses who are putting their whole life on the line to open a business, you go to the conglomerates and big companies.”

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