Where do all the pitchforks come from?

Sunday 1st October 2006

Well, last Thursday night there was a full scale mob/riot outside our building that was INSANE!!!

Betty and Bryn came over to watch The West Wing at my house, and I had corralled Bryn into helping me carry a couple of boxes of water from the Co-op on the corner back to my flat, so off we went to the shops.
As we came back, we saw a large group of people yelling and milling around in the alley across the street. So we walked up the steps of my building and stopped to watch. We quickly realized there was a fight going on, and suddenly there were TONS of people running towards the alley with massive big old sticks!! People started piling out of the buildings around us carrying heavy planks of wood and bits of iron scaffolding, and then all hell broke loose as the men started smashing their planks against cars and each other. We retreated inside the building to watch through the window as the fight moved out of the alley and into the street directly in front of us. We watched one guy with a 10-foot metal girder type thing start beating a guy round the head and then the guy just went down like a sack of potatoes SMACK in the middle the road unconscious.
The sound of his head smacking the ground was horrible – somehow you could hear it above all the shouting and yelling, and then it suddenly went very quiet.
He lay there for a good minute and a half while everyone stood around wondering if he was dead or unconscious, and there was a sudden lack of big sticks, as if everyone was like “stick? What stick? I didn’t see anything.”
Then he got up and they helped him to the bakery to wash the blood off and the sticks came back out and the riot continued and moved back down the alley again.
We saw another guy come limping out of the alley propped up on two guys, and then collapse on the pavement, and then his mates managed to shove him into a car to get to hospital. Eventually the ambulances started arriving, although where the hell the police were is anybody’s guess!!
There were probably about 150 men out on the street with sticks, and who knows how many were further down the alley that we couldn’t see. At least three ambulances had arrived before the first cop showed up by himself, had a look around and got back in his car to wait. After AGES two more cars came, and about three more ambulances, and the cops, all five of them, just sort of wandered through the massive crowd, not really doing much. Then they just started yelling at everyone to go home, and they did!!  People just started to disperse, although it took a while and there must have been a lot of injured people down the alley out of our line of sight.
It was all very dramatic and exciting, and we then found out that there had been another riot in the same street a couple of nights ago, but it had happened at 4am, so we didn’t know about it, although we heard a rumour someone had died at the first fight, which may be what sparked off this one. Apparently it’s all about the Egyptian and/or Syrian tribal groups having some sort of a turf war.
Sadly, I haven’t been able to find out any more about it was all about, but I don’t know whether it is likely to die down or escalate at this point.
As riots go it was fairly minor, certainly not as big as Cronulla or the Paris riots, but nevertheless, very bizarre that it happened LITERALLY on my doorstep!!
You needn’t worry though, I’m perfectly safe here, and I shan’t be going anywhere alone for a while, so fear not!!
The funny thing is, aside from seeing a guy literally get beaten unconscious in front of me, and the puddle of blood in the road he left behind, the thing that kept running through my head is “Where did all the sticks come from?”
I mean, seriously, there was a fight, then a mob, and in about 4 seconds, everyone was holding a plank of wood!!
It must have been the same in the old days of angry mobs and pitchforks, I mean, if you saw a mob, did you have to run home and get your pitchfork, or did people leave them out by the road for just such an occasion?
Anyhoo, as I say, it was all very exciting and dramatic and I couldn’t resist writing it all own just for you. I had heard last week that fighting always escalates during Ramadan, generally at about 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening. It’s ironic, considering that Ramadan is pretty much the holiest Muslim holiday, and is all about peace and love and harmony etc, but then again, you’re talking about an entire city of testosterone-filled men who have incredibly low blood sugar after fasting all day (which we all know makes you frankly, a bit tetchy!!), plus they’re all chain-smokers who aren’t allowed to smoke all day, and I’m guessing the enforced nicotine ban doesn’t help their mood much either. So it’s not really that much of a surprise that a riot escalated when you think about it.
As you’ve probably guessed, Ramadan has begun and it’s all a bit crazy. We can’t eat, drink or smoke in public from ‘official’ dawn to ‘official’ sunset (Iftar), which today was at 5.32pm. (the riot happened at about 6pm , so chances are the men who were rioting hadn’t eaten yet).
Anyway, hope you’re all well and keeping your pitchforks handy, cos you never know when an angry mob’s gonna come down your street!!
Loadsa love

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