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Cereal cafe attackers cancel protest at Jack the Ripper museum in London

Published 04/10/2015

A general view of the Jack the Ripper museum on Cable Street, Whitechapel, after it was announced the anarchist group Class War had cancelled a demonstration outside the east London museum. Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.
A general view of the Jack the Ripper museum on Cable Street, Whitechapel, after it was announced the anarchist group Class War had cancelled a demonstration outside the east London museum. Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.
Museum founder Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe speaks to police officers outside the Jack the Ripper museum on Cable Street, Whitechapel, after it was announced the protest group Class War had cancelled a demonstration outside the east London museum. Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.

An anarchist group which attacked a trendy cereal cafe has cancelled its planned protest against the Jack the Ripper museum.

Class War has vowed to wage war against gentrification in London's East End and had planned to demonstrate outside the controversial new museum.

But in a statement on its Facebook page, the group said it is cancelling the protest because it had been "hijacked" by the media and it feared large-scale arrests.

In the post, put up on Saturday night, the group said: "We believe the police are intending to make large scale arrests tomorrow - egged on by a press campaign and the mass presence of journalists from round the word.

"We would be highly irresponsible to our comrades if we put them at risk of arrest. We are therefore cancelling tomorrow's demo."

The demonstration was planned as a follow-up to its highly publicised attack on the Cereal Killer Cafe by protesters calling themselves the F*** Parade.

Class War hailed that protest as a "success" that had spread the anti-gentrification message around the world.

But it said it feared its message would be lost in the frenzy of media coverage.

The statement said: "We are fighting a class war. We will fight on our own terms when and where we want to - on our terrain when we can win. We choose the time and place for our mobs to gather."

It added: "In all this the message the Womens Death Brigade want to send out about the Ripper Museum will be totally lost and hijacked by journos and cops working together to identify and arrest people.

Belfast brothers Gary and Alan Keery, owners of The Cereal Killer Cafe in London
Belfast brothers Gary and Alan Keery, owners of The Cereal Killer Cafe in London

"It has been an exceptional week. We believe the phenomenal worldwide coverage is 'cos the dams of deference are breaking - the paint bomb at the cereal cafe was the lightning rod for anti-gentrification struggles worldwide.

"We love you comrades."

The Jack the Ripper museum has been mired in controversy since it opened in the summer.

When applying for planning permission it reportedly said it was going to celebrate the lives of East End women.

But critics say that its focus on the notorious Victorian serial killer who murdered five women on the streets of Whitechapel is hardly shining a spotlight on the lives and achievements of women in the East End.

Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, 42, founder of the museum in Cable Street, said he had received death threats from Class War protesters - but insisted he would not be bullied by them.

He likened their tactics of intimidation to Hitler's brown shirts and fascists who terrorised Cable Street in the 1930s.

Mr Palmer-Edgecumbe told the Press Association: "They are absolutely trying to intimidate me. They have made vacuous personal attacks on me, my friends and my family.

"I've had death threats from them and they have told me they are going to burn my museum down, and that they know where I live and I should watch my back.

"Everything about the museum protesters, when they say they are going to come and burn us down, reminds me of Hitler's brown shirts and the fascists. I've never given in to bullies and I'm not about to now."

He said protesters should try to lobby the government to change policy to tackle the housing crisis, rather than try to drive small businesses like his to close.

Mr Palmer-Edgecumbe also revealed local police and plain-clothes officers have been protecting the museum since it opened.

There was just one protester after the demonstration was cancelled at the eleventh hour. But half a dozen uniformed officers stood guard outside the museum in case trouble started.

Protester Martin Wright, 62, turned up to give a speech through a megaphone explaining why the demonstration had been called.

He said his family had lived in the East End for more than 100 years but locals are being driven out by millionaires. He said they would continue their protests.

He said: "It is a battle for our area. It is not just the Ripper Museum, that's just a symptom of the whole disease of Manhattanisation.

"We are competing with multi-millionaires for everything - space, accommodation. We haven't got a chance."

He said that "Jack the Ripper and the Kray twins are nothing more than a lurid footnote" in the history of the East End. "I do not regard it as a museum, it is nothing more than a freak show."

Mr Wright said he was at last week's protest at the Cereal Killer cafe, and denied it was a violent mob and insisted it raised the profile of the problem of gentrification. Around a dozen people turned up to the protest, which had officially been cancelled.

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