Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Trouble at the White Bear Theatre / Pub?

On Saturday, I decided to skip a week at the awesome Oval Farmers' Market, which you must visit if you haven't because the food is good, prices reasonable, stall-holders friendly and it involves considerable less effort than trekking up to Borough!  I dared to leave Kennington, a mistake, considering that I was then unavailable to investigate Tweets about trouble at the White Bear Theatre. 

It must be stressed that trouble at the White Bear is very unusual.  There are generally regulars drinking outside and people watching sport, but it's a pub in a residential area with a theatre attached.  How rowdy can that be?  Considerably, it seems:

Does anybody know what happened?  Were there any witnesses?  Was it planned?


Rish said...

Hello, BetaRish here. I saw one passing reference to it on Saturday night, on Urban 75, which mentioned some sort of gang / knife fight, but no more than that; though I seem to remember there has been some mention in different places of a recent gang fight on Clapham Road. Any connection?

slicktony3000 said...

I live close by and saw much of what happened. Before noon on Saturday I would say that comfortably more than fifty men were engaged in a brawl that spilled out from the seating area in front of the pub and on to the street. One group seemed to be holed up inside the White Bear while others made frequent efforts to force their way through the door, before running off round into Cleaver Square, regrouping and trying again. Chairs, stones and anything to hand were used as weapons and much of the fighting spilled out on to the road. I am amazed that no one ended up under a car.

I don't know who the groups were, however these were not (predominantly) teenagers but large numbers of men in their thirties and forties coupled with a few younger ones. As I suggested to the Lurker at the time, I can only think that the fighting was premeditated between organised gangs - the groups were too insistent to get at each other, it was too early for alcohol to have played a significant role and large numbers of people seemed to remain around after the fighting finished talking into their mobile phones.

I should also say that while the fight was ongoing a couple of police officers were attempting to keep the groups apart but were being swamped by the numbers involved. It took somewhere in the region of ten minutes for other officers to turn up, although within a few minutes dozens were present. By this time, of course, most of the gang members had dispersed - it seems to me they knew roughly how long it would take for the police to arrive in numbers and made sure to finish before then.

The only comments I would make are this:

1) The White Bear can have a bit of edge about it sometimes, but I can't see how any blame could be attached to its management.

2) The gangs were clearly organised and set on causing each other harm. Faced with this kind of aggression, I'm not sure what anyone can do to stop them.

3) I was surprised by how long it took for police to arrive, but then again, they can hardly be expected to monitor every pub in London at weekends.

What a grim business.

Anonymous said...

I was walking down Kennington Park Road as it was going on (probably my comment on Urban75), and turned into Cleaver square as about 15-20 guys ran away from the pub and up into the square as well.

My guess was that it was organised hooliganism. Half the guys seemed to be on phones talking to people who had run off in different directions. I had passed some who had already left the fight near Kennington tube talking about going into the back streets to avoid the cops.

I though I heard someone mention 'blades being out' but there seemed to be a lot of bragging going on between them so I don't know how much truth there was to that.

A few were holding their faces and checking for blood but I couldn't see any visable injuries. It did look pretty scary at the pub. I saw some stuff being thrown about and a police van but at that point the police clearly didn't have it under control.

They looked like most were in their thirties in forties and had London accents. Saw a few younger guys with them as well.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to write up the rest of the kov meeting?

SE11 Lurker said...

Thank you to all of the commentators who filled in the gap re. Saturday's incident at the White Bear.

To anonymous, yes I do intend to write up the rest of the KOV meeting, but it's taking time :-)

Anonymous said...

I live on Kennington Park Road and witnessed the fight outside the White Bear. Looked pretty bad with lots of shouting, swearing and things flying through the air.

I was about to go out (to use one of the Boris bikes at Kennington Cross) and so ducked down a side street to avoid the pub and Cleaver Sq where the trouble seemed to be spilling into. When I emerged near the White Hart (sorry, just can't bring myself to use its stupid new name), there were loads of police dragging people out of that pub and conducting searches of them. Some of them were handcuffed and put into police vans. One had blood on his face.

I would agree that most of them were older i.e. not teenagers and looked more like football hooligans or something.

Heard a bloke wandering past say he had never seen anything like this in 10 years of living in Kennington and I would have to agree. Was odd.

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